In response to the changing global business environment and to contribute to scholarly work in the areas of expatriate adjustment, mentoring, and organization and employee development, this study explores ways expatriates experience mentoring and social support while working for multinational enterprises in different cultural contexts. Extant research on cultural dimensions, leadership development, and international assignees indicates that cultural factors affect work behavior and, thus, organization performance. In the wake of conflicting findings from studies on expatriates with mentors, hermeneutic inquiry was used to interpret narratives collected from thirteen international assignees of four nationalities to gain new knowledge about mentors in an international context.
The findings indicate that the construct of mentors is defined by the cultural background of the mentor and protégé, calling into question “traditional measures” (Mezias & Scandura, 2005) of mentoring developed in the US scholarly community to assess mentor outcomes. The expatriates in this study showed an eagerness to learn and sensitivity to cultural differences, evolving into mentor roles themselves, guiding host country colleagues and home country leaders to find intercultural solutions to accomplish the organizational development goals. Although the integration of expatriate knowledge gained on overseas operations is at the core of leadership development lessons for those who aspire to roles as future global managers in transnational organizations (Adler, 2008; Bartlett & Ghoshal, 2003; Dalton, 1998; Harvey et al., 1999; Kanter, 1995) the majority of organizations represented in this study failed to go “beyond skill formation and competence creation, to embrace the diffusion and transmission of knowledge across borders and cultures” (Kamoche, 2000, p.769). These findings from the rich description of the expatriate experience reveal new knowledge, challenges and opportunities for study of organizations striving to build talent suitable for transnational leadership positions.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. May 2011. Major: Work and Human Resource Education. Advisor: Rosemarie Park, Ed.D. 1 computer file (PDF); xii. 249 pages, appendices A-D.
Cooper, Diana C..
Crossing cultures: a qualitative Study of expatriate experiences with mentors during international assignments..
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