Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Selecting Global Managers

International organizations have a need for global managers that maintain abilities to handle the complex cultural and operational functionality of larger organizations. Global managers are highly sought after as navigators of international context and become bridges between the different cultural perceptions to foster achievement of organizational objectives.  A paper by van de Vijver (2008) helps executives better understand on how to select global managers for recruitment or development and the skills such manager’s hold. 

Success in finding the right global candidate requires understanding how the person views the world by assessing their personality. Nearly all personality assessments have flaws with some having bigger flaws than others. Few practitioners would rely on a single assessment in much the same way as a hiring manager should not look at only one aspect of a person to making an important decision. 

In the global context concepts like cultural empathy, cultural distance, and intercultural abilities have a positive impact on one’s ability to work in a multi-cultural world. Global managers who use these skills typically do so when functioning in multi-cultural teams, operating from another country, or work in an international cultural context. 

Managers who function successfully in international environments don’t often prescribe to a single ethnic identity (Ashmore, et. al., 2004). They take on varying cultural perspectives, adopt a multi-cultural identity, and are skilled when working in a multiple cultural environment. Because of their ability to understand self in different contexts they are able to function in those contexts with greater effectiveness.

The paper finds that the performance of global managers is determined by multiple characteristics. The global manager should have intercultural competence to work with people from different cultures and backgrounds. They should also have the intellectual capacity to understand a complex world in which they exist.  Their ability to use both their intellectual capacity and cultural understandings make them more effective than domestic managers in navigating ambiguous environments. 

The global manager is not a person who has lost their birth culture but is a person who has adapted that culture to the needs of the business community and the world at large. They learned and developed to a point that they understand and share cultural identities with people from various parts of the world. They are open-minded in effectively dealing with and managing perspectives that are different from their own. 

The same intellectual ability that allows them to take on new cultural perspectives is the same intellectual ability that allows understands complex operations that span across different continents. Each organization is a collective of people, policies, resources, values, cultures, supply networks, financial arrangements, and interconnected vines of related networks. To understand how the tangible business operations work within the difficult to define cultures is a life time in the making. 

Ashmore, R., et. al. (2004). An organizing framework for collective identity: Articulation and significance of multidimensionality. Psychological Bulletin, 130, 80–114.

Van de Vijver, F. (2008). Personality assessment of global talent: conceptual and methodological issues. International Journal of Testing, 8.

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