June, 2012-Anonymous Contributor (Japan)
Graduating with a degree in International Business, and from taking courses regarding International Business. I was always fascinated with doing business abroad and I hoped that I would be able to be an expat too in the future. But from taking International Management courses and International Marketing courses, the expats that were able to go to different countries to do business overseas seem to be arrogant middle age men with a wife and kids. To make matters worse, the wife usually seemed to be least supportive and made fun of the different cultures.
This is coming from a standpoint of a typical American expat. From taking courses regarding International Business, we learned the basic components which are the 3 components polycentric, ethnocentric, and geocentric. Geocentric meaning you're open to hire anyone and to take all perspectives of both the host and home countries and other country's ideas. Polycentric is when you feel the host country does the business the best way, and ethnocentric is when you feel that your way is the best way. It seemed that the stereotypical American expat had an ethnocentric attitude and felt that his way was always and indeed the best way. In these textbooks, they also discussed various ways on how to hire the right people for these missions.
They even suggested hiring single women because they had no baggage and women tend to be more emotionally in tuned. From paying attention in my courses, I felt that maybe there was a chance for me to do International Business especially with that degree. Well, after graduating in the year 2011 reality finally hit me. Doing international business is indeed hard and it is because even more non existent to be sent by an American company to do international business. How is this so?! Well these days, more and more companies are hiring consultants in their host country that they're doing business with because it's cheaper.
In reality, many companies take the poly centric method and really feel that the host country knows best which can take away the uniqueness of the product or the service that the American company is trying to sell. Also what they don't tell you in books is that in order to be considered to do International Business is you have to work at the company for several years and sometimes with a managerial position in that company. With the economy these days in America and more companies wanting to be cheap, it's hard to put in years of work when you're not even sure if you'll be able to be with that same company in years due to frequent layoffs.
In other words, it's hard to have that trust with the company with rampant corporate politics and instability. In addition, how can you expect for a company to be able to give you an international business position if the position may be here today but not here the next day. In other words, a lot of American companies care about profit instead of trying to establish a global relationship that will help in the long run. (No, exporting cheap factory jobs to China does not count.)
Even with a foreign language, the foreign language that you have varies from state to state in order to see how useful it is. For example, would the use of knowing Japanese would be useful in Montana. But with learning foreign languages, it's all about timing in order to benefit from the opportunities. Right now, Chinese is one of the most useful languages to learn because not only are doing more business with them but their economy is becoming more stronger. In the 1980's learning Japanese was one biggest languages to learn.
Overall, the learning a foreign language at the right time plays a huge factor on doing international business. These days in order to do international business it's all about timing and meeting the right person at the right time. If the timing is off so are your chances especially these days. These days the best way to do International Business in another country is to literally go to the country you want to work in and apply and find an American subsidiary. Also constantly networking and meeting the right people as well in that country that you're in. Overall, doing International Business isn't as easy as they claim in the books!
I'd love to here your views, please leave comments.