With globalisation on the rise, more international educational exchange and cross-cultural interacions are being encouraged. This has led to cross-cultural training to become a discipline in recent times. Traditionally, multinational corporations used to concentrate their training efforts solely on expatriate managers. This resulted in assumptions of how business should be carried out internationally.
For an instance, multinational corporations felt that replicating the exsiting staff in foreign lands, including the same perspectives and technical knowledge would keep the company going smoothly. That business culture had a typical top-down management structure whereby major decisions were made at headquarters level. Line-managers were supposed to manage the daily operations by abiding with the rules of the firm without involving in matters pertaining to cross-cultural issues.
That was then. Today, the international business environment is different. With aggressive competition going all around, multinational corporations around the globe has identified the increasing need for international managers to be equipped with skills on working hand in hand with people from various cultural backgrounds. It is also becoming of increasing importance to train all possible employees so that highly proficient staff are available upon demand.
Many industries fear that investing resources in training staff in cross-cultural training might go to waste if it ends up in expatriate failure. As it is such, there is more demand for specialised training programs to cut costs and also provide the relevant skills needed for employees. They believe that training can be a substitute for actual living experience in a foreign country. It is better that way rather then to be transferred into another culture and pose the risk of causing damage through cultural shock and misunderstanding. Furthermore, the cost of cross-cultural training is not much compared to the danger of sending inexperienced staff for international assignments.
An important aspect in cross-cultural training is the need to have ethics and to create policies to help employees make decisions that have moral consequences. Without them, expatriates may perform poorly in foreign lands and end up reflecting badly on the image of their companies.
Another aspect is that of alliances and partnerships for organisations. When firms of different nationalities work together on a joint enterprise, that would provide a form of training provided both firms recognise the need to be aware of each other's culture.
The ability to have effective communication with people of different cultural backgrounds has become a necessity in attempts to shrink the business world. Shrink in terms of unifying the business world through economical and social means. This unification is vital in order to make the most out of limited resources available in the world. For this to happen, cultural interdependence is needed. Hence, resulting in the importance of cross-cultural training.