China: Managing a Diverse and Multicultural Workforce in Multinationals in a Growth Economy: Understanding the Expatriate Workforce

China: Managing a Diverse and Multicultural Workforce in Multinationals in a Growth Economy: Understanding the Expatriate Workforce

Andy Goldstein (Swiff-Train Company, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8167-5.ch002

Abstract

This case suggests a system of understanding the expatriate employees of a typical multinational company operating in China, based on attitudinal, behavioral, and psychological factors. The study particularly focuses on expatriate managers and staff in multinationals' career ambitions, consumer habits, and attitudes to their organizations and the challenge of working and living in China generally. Expatriate staff working in China, the author argues (based on more than ten years of observation and a detailed survey), can be categorized as in one of three main types: The Gilded Cage, The Half-Way House, and The Localised Westerner. They can be a mix of two or three of these types and their behaviors can evolve between types over time. Understanding these differences can help the non-Chinese manager without China experience and the student of HR issues in China to operate more effectively and gain more insights – as the author himself discovered in the process of researching this case.
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Setting The Stage

Here we look at a general introduction to the main players in this case – the categories or types of expatriate managers and employees in multinational companies. These are basically behavioral and psychological types, which may be a temporary phase in a person’s life, defined according to the author’s observation and the findings of the questionnaire she employed to understand the attitudes and behaviors (included in this case, as an appendix). Briefly, they can be defined, in terms of the “core types” as: The Gilded Cage; The Half-Way House and The Localised Westerner, and the overlapping types - The Half-Way Gilded Cage; The Localised Gilded Cage; and The Half-Way Localised. China in transition was personified in expatriates exhibiting elements of all six.

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