Good Expatriate Manager Interview Report Example
This exercise is meant to help you appreciate the difficulties and advantages of working abroad. In a group of three, interview an expatriate businessperson who has worked overseas. Their nationality is not important, but it is important that they have lived and worked in a country other than the United States for at least half a year. The report should compare and contrast the interviewee’s international experiences with the cultural shock curve (honeymoon, cultural shock, adjustment, and adaption) discussed in class.
Employment information: Mid-level Management, Bank of America (offices in Hong Kong). Prior, he worked a lesser position for Fidelty in Boston.
Education: Bachelor’s in Finance, minor in Accounting. MBA.
Marital status: Single, no kids.
Cultural shock curve:
Honeymoon: John,having never travelled to anywhere in Asia, was immediately surprised with Hong Kong. It has often been described as the NYC of the east,,,he felt as though this was very accurate. HK possess an urbane/cosmopolitan environment he was looking for. Restaurants, clubs, bars, overall “night life” appealing.
John has since returned to Boston to work for Bank of America. While grateful for his opportunity to work in Hong Kong, he is more comfortable working in the US.
The purpose of this assignment is to understand the work experiences of a professional who has worked overseas; these individuals are commonly referred to as expatriates. In order to appropriately complete this assignment, we will compare the experience of an individual to the Culture Shock Curve. The Culture Shock curve identifies four stages (honeymoon, culture shock, adjustment and adaptation), and it is important to relate this to an individual to gain insight and understanding about how individual's experience culture shock.
Having grown up as the only child of parents with backgrounds in finance and accounting, it was no surprise when John Anderson decided to study both areas while attending UMASS Amherst. While at UMASS Amherst, John graduated with a 3.7 GPA and went onto working for Fidelity while working towards his MBA. While at Fidelity, John worked as an Investments Representative. While this position paid well, he did not feel as though he was being challenged. After careful research, John came across a job listing as an investments manager at Bank of America. The only downside to this opportunity is that the job is located in Hong Kong. John, however, saw this as an exciting challenge.
Being a single 26 year old with no children, he quickly applied, interviewed and got the job. To further encourage John to accept, they offered a generous signing bonus, as well as perks generally offered to senior management, such as company paid housing, access to a livery service and six weeks paid vacation. After a two week training session in New York, John departed for Hong Kong.
Having never travelled to Asia, John was quickly surprised. Many have compared it to the New York of the east, and he soon understood why. Much like New York, John felt Hong Kong was a city that never sleeps. The constant hustle and bustle of the city gave John time to immerse him in the new and exciting culture that surrounded him. He had researched Hong Kong and already knew to expect a New York paced city. Prior to starting his new job, he spent time wandering the neighborhoods of Hong Kong so he could become familiarized with his new home. He experienced new types of food, visited various historically important places in the city, and enjoyed the expansive night life in Hong Kong. Upon arriving in his new office, he found the laid back environment initially concerning, but found it made it easy for him to start his first day off on a gentle note. Within the next few weeks, however, culture shock began to sink in.
The proceeding phase is the cultural shock in which, John would realize the differing and varying patterns of the two cultures. The culture in Hong Kong and the US would be seemingly different as the people have different traditional and cultural beliefs. The American society believes in balancing the work-life that enables them to maintain their stress levels and enjoy their lifestyle at the same time. However, the culture in Hong Kong is derived by hard work that compels them to work as much as possible in order to sustain a living. One of the factors behind the hardworking nature is due to the economic challenges that makes it imperative to earn a decent income to afford a sustainable living. Furthermore, the region of Hong Kong is rich in labor and many people compete for similar positions. This gives the entrepreneurs the advantage to exploit the employment market and bargain a deal by offering lower wages. Therefore, the people believe in working extra to earn the needed income. However, in the American system, the standardization and the equality of employment opportunities as well as the high wage rate enables people to earn more while working less that allows them to maintain a balance between work-life and have sufficient personal time off.
If the one move on to the adjustment phase from cultural shock, it proves that he or she is recovering from the cultural shock, the one might no longer feel anxious about the sudden change in their familiar surroundings, but start to understand an unfamiliar environment, and try to learn the local culture and everything the one need to change. While the one is dealing the differences between these two cultures, the one will gradually find out the way to adapt it in order to transit to the next stage. However, not all people are able to adjust themselves to working in a profoundly different country, and the result is he or she will decide to move back eventually. Even though John decided to move back to US, he also found out a way to adjust himself of working in Hong Kong.
Although English is spoken largely in the business world of Hong Kong, comparing to his colleagues who could either speak Cantonese and English, John was lost so many opportunities for him to speak with those customers who is not able to speak English. Therefore, the first adjustment he did was learning language skills. He hung out with friend who can speak both English and Cantonese. Those friends taught him a few simple words and phrases to make him felt easier to interact with those local customers. In Hong Kong, it is appreciated when an expatriate takes the initiative to learn Cantonese. Again, while English is primarily used in business environments, it was noticed by both his Chinese superiors and subordinates.
Moreover, in Hong Kong, business professionals focus on collectivism as opposed to individualism in the US. In the United States, independence is important; it signifies leadership and power. While individual achievements can contribute to the final goal, they are generally tossed aside for group achievement. John saw this first hand when he praised a team leader as opposed to the entire group; the other members felt left out and felt as though they failed. This was explained to John and he corrected his communication in this area in the future.
Furthermore, the value of these two countries is different. In United States, it is a sign of weakness, in Hong Kong it is seen as a sign of strength. As a result, the second adjustment he did was trying to understand the cultural and get used to it.
Business cultures is a huge different in the countries. Businessmen from Hong Kong tend to be a lot more laid back, displaying a low power distance. Some of them tend to be quiet when it comes to make dealings. On the other hand, Americans tend to stiff and more managerial, suggesting a higher power distance. The sales approach in Hong Kong tends to very indirect, but for Americans it tends to be very direct. For example, in America many people will keep leave a contract to customers when it suits them. This suggests a willingness to appeal to the customer. However, Hong Kong businessmen think this is disrespectful. They are concerned about respect in their business dealings.
Lastly, the way of how they giving a gift for someone are also different in these countries. John has been told that gift giving is very important in Hong Kong’s business world. If you purchase a gift for someone, it is polite that if you refuse it at first and then continue offering it to the individual.
It is offensive to gift a clock, sharp object or black, white or blue object to someone. This is because of old cultural implications. John found this out the hard way when he gave a subordinate a black sharp tipped fountain pen as a gift. One of his assistants, a Hong Kong native informed John of this and apologized of his subordinate for offending him. Oppositely, in United States, businessmen would directly accept the gift from other. It is Not uncommon in the US for gifts to be exchanged for various reasons.
After a few months, John has been adapted the life in Hong Kong, but he still felt comfortable working in Boston because that is the place where he familiar with. No matter what he had made a great effort to adapt it by leaning a language skill to efficiently interact with customer. He also noticed that Hong Kong is a city that very concern about Fung Shuey while doing business because people in Hong Kong. They think that there are so many risk while doing the business and by understanding the concept of Fung Shuey will brigng them luck. Furthermore, understand more cultural of this city will make a positive effect on his business.
Conclusively, it is easy to determine that people find it difficult to adjust with different cultures due to a life-long influence of their cultural teachings and practices. People surviving in regional settings with different cultural influence would undergo several phases of in order to adapt to the different culture and often result in giving rise to a hybrid system that helps them to maintain a balance between their own culture and the foreign culture.
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