The Role of Family in
International Assignments
IBUS 618
Chris Chee
Diego Hernandez
Ken Lee
Eugenia Paw
Bilinc Yurtseven
Presentation Outline
o Introduction: Diego Hernandez
o Cultural Differences: Chris Chee
o Problems : Bilinc Yurtseven
o Recommendations: Eugenia Paw
o IHRM Policies: Ken Lee
o Oracle & Conclusion : Chris Chee
Expatriate Failure
• Returning Home before the period of
assignment is completed
• Underperforming on assignment as a
result of difficulties in adapting to their
new lives
The Role of Family in
International Assignments
Expatriation Process:
“Today’s workers are less willing to sacrifice their own
and their family’s lifestyle without a clear
understanding of the benefits to them.” (Leong, K.
Repatriation Process:
The longer the person is away from the home country, the
more likely there will be readjustment problems upon
Factors Moderating
• Inability to Adjust to Foreign culture
• Length of Assignment
• Willingness to move
• Work-Related Factors
Personal Experience
Going Abroad to Ecuador:
• Willingness to Move: Spouse Career, Children’s
• Length of Assignment: Affected by unhappy
• Inability to Adjust: Frustration which led to failure
Costs of Failure
Relocation Expenses
• Loss of market share
• Difficulties with Host
government officials
• Brand image
• Staff Availability
• Return On Investment: “US
Multinationals spend around 1 million
dollars on each expatriate”
• Knowledge of Transfer
Country Profile
•United Kingdom
Punctuality is important
Low context culture
Relationship Build up - Task orientation
Explicit Communication Style & Time Orientation
Persuasion - Instrumental orientation
Long work days, little vacation time
Disagreements are common and acceptable
High context culture
Gesture-free body language
Personal interrelation is a traditional feature of Japanese society
Importance of saving face
Punctuality is essential
Long negotiations process
Long periods of silence during negotiation process
Women’s roles: managing household and care of children
Long-term relationships are positively encouraged
United Kingdom
• Low context society
• Polite and courteous
• Formal and detached when faced with difficult situations
• Punctuality is important
• Decision-making is often a slow and systematic process due
to rules
• Teamwork is important with strong sense of individuality
Expatriate Failure Survey
A survey for United States MNCs revealed that
European and Japanese multinational
corporations (MNCs), identified significant
expatriate failure in U.S. companies for four
•The spouse's inability to adjust to a different
physical or cultural environment
•Spouses Social Life
•Children’s education
•The employee's inability to adjust.
(The employee's personal or emotional
•Other family problems
Important issues to cover when
screening the family are
* Level of marital stability
* Responsibilities for aging parents
* Chemical dependencies on the part of anyone in the household
* Existence of learning disabilities in a child
* Behavioral problems in teenagers
* Emotional stability of family members
* Strength of family ties to the community or to other family members not going
* Strength of children's attachment to extracurricular activities
* Family cohesiveness
(Avoid expatriate culture shock HR Magazine, July, 1993 by Marvina Shilling)
The role of the
spouse…(Case of Japan)
• A study of Japanese expatriates found that family
related problems were the most important issues in
expatriate failure
( Fukuda & Chu 1994)
Adjusting to foreign culture
Concerns about their mate’s performance at work
Children’s education
Stage of the family life-cycle
Government restrictions on their employment
Financial Concerns ( Dual Career Couples)
Children & Education
• Japanese executives indicate that children’s education
is the main problem
• Spouses and children had to return to Japan
• 64.7% American, 56.3% British expatriates in Japan, send
their children to International schools.
• Small number send their children to Japanese schools.
( 12.5% UK, 2.9% USA)
Satisfaction With Life Abroad
• American and British expatriates and their families
were asked 8 items related to satisfaction with life in
• Select the right person
• Offer Pre-departure training programs
• Provide Support services
• Short-term assignments
Select the Right Person…
• Assess skills, competencies, and
international experience
• Assess individual and his/her family’s
ability to adapt
Pre-departure Training
• Cultural awareness programs
– Level of interaction (High or Low)
– Degree of similarity (High or Low)
– Training methods
• Preliminary visits
– Provide a preview
– Introduction to the business
Pre-departure Training
Programs Cont.
• Language training
– Key to adjustment
– Gain access to social support structures
– Important in terms of task
performance and
cultural adjustment
Support Services
• Spousal career assistance
– Job search assistance
– Inter-company networking
– Career counseling and support
• Finding suitable schools
• Additional orientation programs
– Language training
Short-term assignments
• Extended business trips
– Range from several months to one year
• Commuter expatriate assignments
– Commute from home country on a
regular basis
• Virtual expatriate assignments
– Manages from home-base
U.S. Multinational Corporation
Staffing Policies
• Used parent-country nationals (PCNs) for some control
– Finance; Accounting
• Used local or third country nationals (TCNs) served
for market-sensitive functions
– Marketing; Advertising
• Used host-country nationals (HCNs) for greater extent
of all levels of management
– Management Level
British Multinational
Corporation Cont.
Expatriate Policies
• Selection
– Informal Interview *
– Formal Interview
– Psychometric Testing
• Training
– Informal Briefing
– Language Training
– Cultural Orientation
• Repatriation
– Sink or Swim Attitude
* Informal interview is more reliable because it can avoid potential
candidates intentionally concealing family concerns and issues
British Multinational
• Staffing Policies
• Use of parent-country nationals expatriates to run
foreign subsidiaries
– Management Development
– Objective of control of local operations
• Intention to employ more third-country nationals
• Ex. Imperial Chemical Industries Ltd. (ICI), Britain’s
largest industrial is one of the surveyed companies,
and it employed 250 TCNs out of 550 expatriates.
U.S. Multinational Corporation
Expatriate Policies
• Selection
– Performance Record
– Psychological Tests
– Interviews with both candidate and spouse
• Interviewing both candidate and spouse benefits both the company and
the candidate’s family
2/3 of the respondents didn’t have pre-departure training programs
• Trend of employing local nationals
• Short-term nature of such assignments
• Doubt over the effectiveness of such training program and lack of time
• Fear that employees may leave the company
Lack of clear repatriation policies and comprehensive planning
Japanese Multinational
Staffing Policies
• Used PCNs more extensively in their top and middle
management positions in their oversea operations
• North American operations were relatively more
important to Japanese MNCs
• Japanese MNCs prefer to send older and more
experienced managers for international assignments
Japanese Multinational
Corporation Cont.
Expatriate Policies
• Selection
– Managerial talent was the most important criteria for
selecting candidates of CEO
– Gender of candidate was being considered in the
– Usually women would not be assigned as expatriates
• Training
– Provide more rigorous training programs
– Stress the importance of language training
• Repatriation
– Closer communication with headquarters and exchange
of information
– Japanese expatriates have certain planned career paths
at headquarters
• Well planned repatriation policies and benefits can reduce family
problems, especially spouse’s dissatisfaction for international
Work Family Relationships
Company Profile
Based in Redwood City
Founded in 1977
40,000+ employees in 1977
Enterprise software giant provides a range
of tools for managing business data,
supporting business operations, and
facilitating collaboration and application
Oracle Expatriate
Work/Family Relationships
• Expatriate benefits
– Work Relocation reimbursement of up to $20,000
– All phone calls to parent country are reimbursed
– Club memberships
– 4 trips back to parent country per year
– Schools are paid for
– Flexible work schedule, 3 months at host country, 3 months at home
– Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
– LifeWorks Family Resource and Referral Program

The Role of Family in International Assignments