Post-arrival to develop a deeper understanding of the culture,

Post-arrival Training

There is no defined time for when the various CCTDP
components should take place, however, as the expatriate will receive a lot of
information in advance of their assignment, training with less associated risk,
such as interaction and attribution training, is arguably better to arrange
post-arrival.

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Interaction Training

Interaction Training provides expatriates with the
opportunity to learn from the expatriate they will be replacing. This form of
training has many benefits, including that the expatriate will receive guidance
and support from a like-minded individual, i.e. someone who has also come from
the UK and has been through a similar experience relatively recently. The
outgoing expatriate can not only provide insight into the ins and outs of the
role, but can also provide insight into the local area and introduce the new
expatriate to other expatriates in the area. Harrison and Michailove (2011:632)
notes how due to the restrictions on how men and women interact socially in
some Middle Eastern countries, expatriates may seek out other expatriates to
socialise with. Hence if such introductions can be done earlier by the outgoing
expatriate, this may result in a quicker adjustment period.

Although there are advantages to interaction training,
organisations need to be careful about who they select for this training. If the
outgoing expatriate has not had a good experience while on their assignment,
they are likely to share their view with the incoming expatriate thus providing
them with an initial negative perception. This could be detrimental to the
success of the incoming expatriate, particularly if they had any earlier doubts
about the assignment. Additionally, as the outgoing expatriates are not
experienced trainers, they are less likely to be aware that in addition to developing
the incoming expatriate’s knowledge and skills, they must also support the
development of the necessary attitudes. This is done through sharing their
understanding of why things are done a particular way, which in some cases they
may not be aware of themselves or they may be misinformed on.

The organisation could also arrange for the expatriates to be
mentored by host country nationals. This can help the expatriates to develop a
deeper understanding of the culture, build their confidence in interacting with
host country nationals, and further develop their language skills. The host
country nationals would be a valuable resource to the expatriates as they can answer
culture specific questions and can share insights which may help the
expatriates navigate their new environment. Ideally the mentorship from a host
country national would be in addition to the training from the outgoing
expatriate. This will help to ensure that the incoming expatriate experiences
the benefits of both, and reduces the risk of being misinformed on culture
specific aspects of the host country. Cerimagic and Smith (2011:669) citing reports
by Caligiuri (2002) note that “greater interaction with host nationals
positively relates to cross-cultural adjustment”. If taking this approach,
the organisation should consider providing training to the host country
national also.

Attribution Training

Attribution training aims to develop the expatriates’ ability
to recognise the meaning of behaviours exhibited by people in the host
environment. Furnham (1989:214) noted how “effective intercultural
relations require isomorphic attributions”, which are made when
expatriates make sense of and interpret behaviours the same way host country
nationals would (Littrell et al, 2006:368). It would be beneficial for this
training to take place after the expatriates have been on their assignment for
a few weeks, by which time they might have personal experiences which they can
reflect on and learn from during the training.

In the Middle East, a high context society, a lot of
“unspoken information is implicitly transferred during communication”
(Maclachlan, 2010). UK expatriates need to be made aware of this so that they,
for example, know to pay attention to non-verbal communication such as body
language, eye contact, hand gestures, and facial expressions. Also, a lot of time
and effort is invested into building work-relationships in the Middle East.
Maurer and Li (2006:36) note how such investments may include gifts, which
people from a low context society may “react badly” to receiving.
This can be due to policies in place in home countries that prohibit managers
from accepting gifts. Attribution training can help to avoid such
misinterpretations, reduce the risk of any resulting conflict and hence
increase the expatriate’s likelihood of success.

The host mentors mentioned in the previous section could also
play a role in attribution training. As they will likely have experience
working with many expatriates, they will be familiar with the mistakes and
misconceptions that expatriates are at risk of making when attributing meaning
to behaviours. Hence, they can educate and support the expatriates in making
the right attributions.

Conclusion

There are many key components to a CCTDP, each of which has
its own objectives, benefits and considerations. Organisations must provide a tailored
CCTDP to each expatriate assignment. This requires investment from the
organisation and hence it is important for them to realise the benefits of doing
the training and risks associated with not, as outlined above.

In this essay, generalisations were made, and country
specific examples were referenced which do not apply to all countries in the
Middle East. Although we covered the key components of a CCT as identified by
Littrell and Salas (2005), one component which stands out as being missing is
repatriation training. A more comprehensive CCTDP would include consideration
of repatriation training which should aim to reduce the risk of the expatriate
experiencing reverse culture shock. 

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