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Lectures on Cross-cultural Management

Updated: Aug 9, 2019

I recently did some guest lectures at Warwick University Business school, my alumni University. I was speaking about Japanese HRM, Labour Market and the Ex-pat experience from a practitioner’s perspective to MSc HRM students. This perspective has primarily been based on my experience of ex-pats working in or coming from Japan, but I have worked extensively with ex-pats from all over the globe when doing management training for companies such as Toshiba. After discussing specific case studies, I showed them an example of interactive training I do with global managers to support them in understanding the cross-cultural elements of business, so that they, as future HRM managers, see the importance of such training. They then created some very innovative tailor-made ex-pat support packages based on different case studies.

The important recommendations I made regarding cross-cultural training were:

  • Assumptions and mistaken expectations can be detrimental to the experience (they speak the language so they will be able to navigate the business culture, they have lived overseas before so they will be capable)

  • Experiential and on-going learning is key to a successful global assignment, especially if the business cultures are different. Most assignments rely on pre-assignment briefings that get easily forgotten or ‘on the job’ learning which takes longer and don’t take into account specific business issues that require more insight.

  • Ex-pats must be able to navigate cultural diversity and know the key elements of building trust within a different culture and be willing to adapt their strategies effectively.

Most of the participants were Chinese and this indeed led to some very interesting cross-cultural discussions, looking at their impressions of the UK and experiences as International Students too, the most amusing of which was their shock at the amount of fire drills at the University. I remember this well from my days there!

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