“He’s our man, I’m sure. He’s willing to relocate, he shows a keen interest in other cultures, he speaks the local language, he’s got common sense, he has a keen intellectual curiosity, he’s more than happy with the extra remuneration, and on top of that, he’s taken a thorough pre-assignment training programme.”
I know many leaders and managers who’d bet on this horse. I would not necessarily do so. There is more to the complex issue of expatriate assessment.
What if his ability to adjust from one culture or subculture to another does not live up to expectations? What if the spouse or the children… ?
So, what will determine the success or failure of an international assignment? What are the characteristics of a successful expatriate? Social intelligence, emotional self-control, self-reliance, confidence, the ability to think critically, the ability to delay responses, the ability to know when not to express critical judgements, the ability to cross cultures (including company cultures, subcultures, sectoral cultures), etc., etc.
The most advanced pre-assignment training, the perfect country briefing, the near-native language skills, the relocation compensation – of all things – won’t guarantee the success of an assignment.
There is more to expatriate assessment than that.
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