Your position in human resources management has landed you a rare opportunity: you have been brought on to your company’s international training and recruitment team! The company has had a lack of success in its negotiations in Venezuela. Your company’s factory there has gone through a series of expensive strikes and shutdowns, and there is tension between your managers on the field. You have had to withdraw the project coordinator and you need to choose another employee to send to (hopefully) resolve the problems. After careful screening, these are the candidates you have to choose from:
Amelia is a 34-year-old manager. She has been with your company for 10 years and has an excellent knowledge of the project. She grew up in Italy and served in the military, being positioned in various locations before seeking her career with your company. She is fluent in Spanish. She is single and “mobile”. She is flexible and seems very “cognitively complex”. She has surprised you in manager’s meetings with her ability to grasp the details and offer alternative explanations leading to sound conclusions.
Charlie is a 46-year-old director of several projects locally. He has been with your company for 15 years. He is very willing to go, though his wife seems reluctant. He is extremely outgoing and gets along well with other people. He has been highly resourceful in the projects on which he has served, and is good at gathering the information he needs to complete a project. He has never traveled outside of the United States and does not speak Spanish.
Ernie speaks Spanish fluently and has travel experience specific to Latin America. He is very excited to go on this trip and is recently mobile, as he has just separated from his wife of 22 years. Ernie is 56 years old and is truly an “expert” in your company. He knows the product and is very successful at task completion. He has overseen several projects in your company and has completed them with meticulous detail. This is due to his high need for structure and closure.
George is 42 years old and has been with your company for 15 years. He is very outgoing and very flexible. He is your “all-around” man, able to move from task to task in a very “polychronic” way. He is great at relationships, and seems undaunted by new deadlines or expectations. He has had some difficulty with task completion. George has traveled extensively to Japan and adjusted very well to the mindset there.
Case Study questions
· Who would you send to Venezuela, and why? Does this person have anything that works against him or her?
· How do you see each of the candidates in terms of effectiveness, appropriateness, and overall competence?
· Do you think that someone might be more competent in one culture than another, or is there a “base level” of intercultural competence that can make someone competent in many different cultures?
· Does anything potentially stand against Amelia? What research might you need to do before you send her? How does Venezuela see female managers, both within their own culture and from other cultures? Will Amelia’s time in the U.S. military help or hinder her if it becomes known to the Venezuelan workers?
· Which traits do you think could be trained, if you wanted to prepare one for this position? Are some of the traits more difficult to train?
· In what ways might intercultural communication competence be useful even if someone is not traveling to another culture?