Monday, April 9, 2012

Why local talents are better

I was recently reading an article on company culture, in particular Japanese company culture and it was opined that in certain cases, the Japanese companies' culture was the reason for their downfall, in particular their expats culture.

Using the example of a Japanese company, certain places sent Japanese to occupy all major functions like finance and marketing without understanding the local business. It is very likely, due to the unfamiliarity with the local climate, these "expats" will require a lot of help from the local workers to execute their business operations. It will lead to a situation where these expats become "figureheads" and a lot of actual work is actually done by people lower down the ladder, causing a drop in morale.

The situation will become worse if these "expats" wish to exercise their authority and insist on executing certain business operations in a certain way as it worked in their home country, be it due to familiarity or ego, not knowing that in business, one size doesn't fits all.

In such cases, local talents have a distinct advantage due to their familiarity with
  1. the local culture (how things work in the home country)
  2. the work culture (how colleagues get along with one another)
  3. the language culture (e.g. in Australia, get lost is acceptable but not in other countries)

Even in companies that are not big enough to have expats, local talents are always an advantage even with the above reasons, unless you do not have a need to communicate and interact with anyone. This is highly unlikely. Many especially underestimate the importance of the language culture, in particular communication.

Having said that, I'm not saying that expats are not able to do the above. I've seen some expats who are highly adaptable, and able to bring new ideas to the table. Do not discount local talents though. Nothing beats hiring someone who lives and breathes the local scene.

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