Do bosses from overseas really understand?

It seems obvious that certain skills underpin cross-cultural competence – but what are they? Dr David Fan has a look at Chinese ex-pat managers.


Dr David Fan

It is well know that various skills – including self-maintenance, perceptual, interpersonal relations, language and communication skills are necessary in cross-cultural management.

But, how do they inter-relate and how do they work together to drive cross-cultural competence?

Dr David Fan’s interviews with Chinese expatriate managers found that self-maintenance skills, interpersonal skills and language skills do not relate to cross-cultural competence directly, but perceptual skills and how they influence communications skills do.

Managers need to be able to perceive what’s going on, and to communicate – much more than how each of the supposed skills work in isolation.

Competence is much more than just understanding local culture – it is necessary to interact and communicate the way locals do.

Clearly there is much to learn about what underpins the success of expatriate managers – and this study has real implications for how we train and develop managers we send abroad. 


Dr David Fan

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