Last updated 1 August 2016

Expat Guide: Intercultural Training and Workshops

Expat Guide: Intercultural Training and Workshops -

Many companies all over the world are increasingly going global as wealth expands in emerging markets. Major western firms from various sectors have opened factories and shops in Latin America, Middle East and East Asia. This trend of globalization has led companies to increase international assignments among their employees. Some employees are sent to overseas offices for short-term tasks, while others settle as expats for longer-term assignments.

The rising number of expats boosted demand for intercultural trainings and workshops aimed at helping foreigners adjust to new cultures. For an instance, westerns relocating to conservative Muslim societies may find gender segregation in public places a shocking practice. Betsy Neidel, founder of US business consultancy Blue Heron, said: “The purpose of intercultural training is to make people feel more comfortable in a new environment, and help them to adapt more quickly to a set of norms that really aren’t normal for them.”

Intercultural trainings and workshops are specifically prepared to develop cultural awareness and speed up the coping process of foreigners relocating overseas. Modules are customized based on an expat’s profile and needs. Previous studies suggested that learning new cultures boosts a person’s confidence and helps achieve success in the workplace. Culture shock, or personal disorientation experienced by many foreigners, may be mitigated by proper intercultural trainings.

Brookfield Global Relocation Services, a leading intercultural training firm, offers customized Relocation Training Programs for foreign workers and expat families. Scott T. Sullivan, an executive officer at Brookfield Global, said: “Our intercultural programs are based on 50 years off research and methodology with a globally-structured outline to provide consistency (regardless of location) and are tailored to respond to participant needs”. The consulting firm provides the following trainings:

•    Intercultural Training for Expatriates
•    Repatriation Intercultural Training
•    Youth and Teen Intercultural Training Programs
•    Cultural Coaching
•    Training for Short-Term Assignments: Intercultural Express Package

US-based IBS Global Consulting conducts cultural and trainings and seminars. It has a network of consulting partners in over 30 countries. The University of Minnesota also formed an Intercultural Training Center aimed to improving communication across cultures.

Intercultural trainings have been proven effective by global firms that aim to boost the quality of their manpower and enhance their business abroad. Ginny Ertl, vice president at GE Consumer Finance, said that developing an understanding for cultures and customs where GE operates is the foundation of the company’s long history of cross-cultural success. “Training expats and others so they can most effectively conduct business abroad is accomplished through a variety of programmes,” Ms. Ertl said.


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