To put an end to expats’ contempt for local contracts

Snejina Michailova, professor of international business at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, and Anthony Fee, lecturer at the University of Technology Sydney, Australia, studied the relationships of local contract workers with their expatriate colleagues. Misunderstood, little considered, even despised, the former are the subject of fifty times less study than the latter. The two researchers explained to the Harvard Business Review the five most common misconceptions and gives ways to overcome them.

1. Local contracts are just as enthusiastic as expats

It’s quite the opposite, and it makes sense: “They may feel indifferent, skeptical, tired, even resentful of this ‘other stranger’ arriving for a relatively short stay.”

The solution: help them prepare for the arrival of their expat colleague by offering language training, for example. Another track: “Expats can also demonstrate humility upon arrival.”

2. Local contracts are all the same

No way. Some have extensive international experience, others not. The same goes for language skills. “Expatriates will be more likely to succeed if they take into account the diversity of employees in their host country.”

3. Local contracts have the main task of supporting expats

Fake. This is an additional task that is often little or not recognized.
What to do ? Recognize and reward their help.

4. Local contracts are not a source of knowledge

“Let us not forget that multinationals establish subsidiaries abroad to access local information not available at headquarters. While expatriates transmit knowledge from headquarters, local contracts play a vital role as ‘knowledge agents’ integrating global and local knowledge and serve as intermediaries between expatriates and local stakeholders.”

Expats would do well to recognize and value this.

5. Local contracts adapt more easily

The difficulties of adapting premises are made invisible, while“during a typical work day they constantly change their identity, communication style and language before returning to their families”. To help them, companies should provide the same type of support (training, mentoring) as what is offered to expats.

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