The Right Stuff

The Right Stuff

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The Right Stuff

In the past couple of semesters the topic of expatriates has come up a lot. I’m beginning to see that’s it’s an important issues since we now live in a global market. I do believe that if your successful in your career the likely hood of receiving an expatriate assignment is high. The Houston Business Journal conducted a survey of one hundred companies and sixty percent predict that the expatriate population will increase, while twenty-five percent said it will stay the same (HBJ, June 98). Since the probability is high that I will be asked to go to another country, I’ve had to do some serious reflecting. Would I be a good expatriate employee? There are qualities one must have in order to become a successful expatriate. According to Jeff Freeburg a consultant for H.R. International certain qualities one should have are motivation, receptiveness, Patience, sense of humor, initiative, confidence, dependable, savvy, persistent and decisive (Freeburg 99). I feel that I do have most of these qualities but is that enough? I am fortunate that I’m able to speak Spanish fluently, I can also read and write it. It was easy for me to pick up different languages since I’m a first generation U.S. citizen; I grew up with my family members speaking both languages to me. Because of that exposure I have the desire to learn other languages, I can read French and hope to learn Italian and Japanese if time allows me to. Even though I speak a different language I have never left the states to visit other countries either for personal or business reasons. Shannon Roxborough author of The Guide to International Work Success lists other important things one must do before venturing abroad.

An expatriate should learn some history in order to deal better with the cultural differences. Learn the business culture, as we have read in the case study of Buckeye Glass Company in China, we have learned the importance other cultures place on building a personal relationship that goes beyond the normal business relations in this county. Learn how to negotiate, American business professional must learn how to conduct proper negotiations in other countries, not every one rushes to the table to hammer out an agreement. Also as we’ve read other countries use tactics such as long pauses or touching during negotiations that seem strange to us but are perfectly normal for them.

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An important yet forgotten point is to have Fun, Roxborough recommends taking advantage of the situation and see all the country has to offer. I personally have an interest in learning about other cultures, in learning about their customs and history mainly. In my sub-culture I have learned to mix my American culture with my Spanish heritage, by observing customs, holidays and rituals from both. I believe that I could adapt well to another culture, more so than others, for instance I feel I could adapt easily to European or Latin American cultures, but I would have difficulty adjusting to Asian or Japanese cultures. The skills that I have that would benefit me abroad would be my ability to learn languages, my own experience’s of cultural diversification within my own family and an open mind to except things that may not seem normal to me. The biggest hurdle I would have to overcome is leaving Las Vegas and the United States.

I’ve traveled all over this country on many road trips and I really like where I live. I also have my entire family in Las Vegas and we have a very close relationship, I’m not sure how well my mother would take to the idea of seeing once every few months. Now my fiancé would have no problems adjusting to life abroad, her father was in the Air Force, so she been to a few places. Her most memorable is the time she spent in Japan, she lived there for four years, and her high school career was spent there. She did eventually learn the language and customs of the Japanese, but she did have difficulty at first. Her first year was the hardest but by the second she had settled in nicely. When she came back to the states she was again hit by culture shock, she could not believe how things had changed, how she had missed and basically had to reintegrate into our society. As for me, would I make a good expatriate employee, the answer is yes and no. I feel I have the skills, business knowledge and determination to succeed but I’m not sure if I’d be able to leave my family and childhood friends behind.

- Roxborough, Shannon (1999, June). The Guide to International Work Success:
Internationalists Newsletter

- Freeburg, Jeff (2000, January). What make a Successful Expatriate.
H.R. International

- Administrators feel pressure to control expatriate costs. (1998, June 19).
Houston Business Journal

- Marshall, Samantha. (2000, February 25). Koreans, Vietnamese learn to get along with
Culturally Sensitive Assembly line. The Wall Street Journal

- Francesco, Anne Marie., Gold, Barry Allen. (1998) International Organizational
Behavior. New Jersey: Prentice Hall
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