The Value of the American Expatriate to U. S. Multinational Corporations

Malone, Maura Lillis, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Burbach, Harold, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Horniman, Alexander, Darden Graduate School of Business, University of Virginia
Dimberg, Ronald, Department of History, University of Virginia
Covert, Robert, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

This dissertation compared and contrasted the extent and type of expatriate training programs for overseas assignments used by U.S. multinational corporations across four industries (Pharmaceuticals, Electronic Computers/Telecommunications, Consumer Durable Goods and Consumer Non-Durable Goods) which are investing resources overseas and would seemingly need such training. The purpose of the study was to explore the value of the American expatriate to U.S. multinational corporations by examining expatriate selection, training and repatriation procedures.

Data was collected through survey questionnaires administered by phone to human resource staff within these four types of multinational corporations. The survey screened for expatriate profile, rigor of expatriate selection and training programs, repatriation procedures as well as visionary goals for the future of expatriate training within these types of industries. Based on a review of the cross-cultural and management training literature in addition to the survey results, the researcher made recommendations for changes in corporate thinking in regards to the planning and purpose for the expatriate assignment.

The study revealed that while U.S. multinational corporations are increasing the degree to which they provide cross-cultural and language training to U.S. personnel working abroad, overall efforts to empower the expatriate through pre-departure training or repatriation orientation are ineffective. Cross-cultural training and language training procedures are meager, on average 3 days, and they pale in comparison to the preparation which expatriates from other countries and from non-business related organizations within the U.S. receive. In addition, the absence of career pathing is an area that serves to undermine the potential of the expatriate as haphazard management of returning expatriates can mean the loss of employment. In short, these factors devalue the expatriate as well as the expatriate experience since companies are not willing to significantly invest in the future of these individuals by rigorously preparing them to live and work in another culture and/or by utilizing the knowledge and expertise of expatriates upon their returning to the U.S.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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