Relocating To Latin America: A Case Study of Chile
Prospective expatriates usually have little or no knowledge at hand as to facilitate their making a well-informed decision. Most of these employees jump at the opportunity to further their individual careers and cement their curriculum vitas by way of working to garner as much experience on the international front as they possibly can. The inherent problem is that these employees go about the same without according due consideration to the life-changing move, as may relate to its effect on not only their careers, but also personal happiness.
The effect of relocation on the family;
At face value, the immediate effects of a major international job opportunity on the expatriate’s family is not only uprooting a spouse from his/ her work obligation, but also, disrupting the schooling activity of one’s children. It has been observed that a large proportion of those workers shortlisted by their companies to be involved in an international relocation exercise end up declining such assignments, citing ‘family-oriented’ concerns (Weiss, 1999). Acceptance on the part of the entire family to participate in the relocation is determined by a number of factors, including the cost of living, a sense of community, the issue of whether or not the spouse is also in gainful employment, the financial implications of the move and the location itself, to mention but a few. Practically, the family will be required to decide whether to retain or sell their house in their native location, and arrangements should be instituted to facilitate language training – if necessary – for all members of the family, an activity that ought to proceed even after settling in the foreign country. Issues of banking and shopping also arise as a resultant consequence of the move, necessitating the implementation of yardsticks to cater for the same.
The need for company intervention in a number of scenarios cannot be stressed enough, if only to streamline the transition. These include the aspect of shedding light on the taxation system to the expatriate, seeing how dynamic it is. Of major significance is the matter of getting acclimatized to a foreign cultural environment; the company administration ought to come up with various avenues to ensure the expatriate and his family adequately encounter and comprehend the alien environment and host culture, done by offering spousal support, for example through the initiative of assisting in the search for suitable employment opportunities and even in career planning. Coaching measures may also be introduced, should it be deemed necessary to enhance cross-cultural training to the family (Glanz, 2005).
A major determinant of whether the employee stays on in the international assignment is the indicator assessing the non-working partner’s adaptation to the new environment, along with considering whether their children were capable of blending in with the foreign culture (Jalongo, 2000).
Children emulate their parents; while some are oblivious to the foreign move, others become concerned with the cultural and linguistic differences to be experienced, as well as the social bonds to be broken and consequently fostered in the alien locality.
Teenagers – in the adolescent stage – need to fit in with other adolescents in the foreign region; linguistic and cultural differentials are scrutinized, as opinions flare regarding the idea of having to be separated from sports teams, close friends and love interests.
The above reactionary responses are influenced by a number of factors; gender, rates of physical, emotional and intellectual maturity, special needs, if any, and whether or not they have been relocated before.
As regards the spouse, frustrations may arise where one fails to secure employment, especially after giving up on previously flourishing careers. Some liken this to a loss of identity, whereby loss of a professional career gives leeway to a loss of self.
Women may find themselves having to adapt to a society where they are treated very differently than they are in America, hence necessitating their acclimatization (Knight, 2003).
Also, a commonly neglected facet of the relocation exercise is the issue of care for the elderly, wherein the family members are required to deal with the reality of leaving their aging loved ones behind.
Likely assistance to get the expatriate started;
The availability of an expatriate community in the region to which the relocation is geared can greatly enhance efficiency, done by the company facilitating practical training, through which the expatriate establishes a workable adaptation routine. This facilitates the incorporation of the new family into the group, acting as a source of valuable information and support (Knight, 2003).
Additionally, it is of utmost importance for enterprises operating within international waters to make investments in educating the employees’ at all hierarchical levels, not to mention the aspect of instituting training pertaining to global familiarization (Blonigen, 1996). Greater returns on investment ought to result correspondingly.
Also, it is quite necessary for the companies themselves to develop a support framework within which expatriates are kept abreast with pertinent matters, if only to shore up their productivity while on assignment (Weiss, 1999).
It is suggested that obvious indications of wealth, foreign status and the wearing of expensive jewelry and apparel, should be avoided at all costs. One’s financial status should be watered down, whilst working to avoid the public arena. Credit card slips should be adequately disposed, while bank and credit cards should all be avoided or used cautiously.
Attention ought to be paid to suspicious-looking characters, and any documents that may contain vital information should not be carried about unnecessarily. Personal routines should be varied, so as to throw off potential assailants on one’s movement schedule.
As relates to the expatriate’s place of residence, it should be ensured that the apartment has a round the clock security guard on hand. Intercom strategies should be utilized to communicate with visitors to the house, into which strange persons should not be allowed (Moran, 2007).
For correspondence purposes, one should use the office address, for confidentiality. Also, extra care should be taken while employing gardeners and house-helps, as these may act as feeds to the assailants, or conversely, end up being the culprits themselves.
One ought to avoid driving through the same route on a daily basis, while making use of public routes through principal roads. Driving at night should be avoided like plague and one should never stop for hitchhikers. Luxury vehicles should be avoided, as they mainly serve to attract attention.
When making use of public transport, the expatriate should ensure that they are not dropped off at their place of residence and that any form of personal information is not divulged to the drivers. If possible, hired cars should offer respite when deciding a mode of transportation, where personal means are not available.
At the height of the Second Cold War (1980s), and a series of interventions in the larger part of Latin America, the United States became widely unpopular, what, with its range of policies. In present day, policies instigated by George W. Bush ensured the fundamental spread of the concept of anti-Americanism, especially as regards economics, culture, politics and military action. This being the case, it becomes quite necessary for the expatriate and his/her family to watch their back while in Chile.
The expatriate ought to abide by the afore-mentioned precautionary strategies, seeing that they are not predisposed to alter the American economic and military policies already in effect across the globe (Moran, 2007).
Children and school;
In the present context, there are a number of options open to the expatriate as relates to choice of a suitable schooling system for their children, including; the American curriculum, the International Baccalaureate (IB Schools), the British curriculum, European Schools, the National system of the host country (in this case, that of Chile), or even other national systems with international branches. Careful deliberations ought to be made before arriving at an adequate selection of the best educational institution in which to enroll the child or children (Jalongo, 2000).
It is vital to establish whether one’s healthcare insurance cover extends well beyond international borders. Various provisions entail private plans halting at the edge of global waters, while others restrict benefits that are immediately at the disposal of overseas policyholders. The current state of affairs is that an expatriate – where remunerated in local currency – is made eligible for healthcare benefits similar to those of a local native. However, if one’s payment from the employer is remitted back home, this does not apply (Blonigen, 1996).
Supplemental policies are also available to travelling executives, at times including the coverage of airlifting services in cases of dire emergencies. However, it is necessary to always have cash to pay for such, as some establishments may require upfront payment, especially before treatment!
Culture shock and its’ impacts;
This refers to the phenomenon where an individual experiences a shift in everyday scenarios, from a situation whereby one may have previously been surrounded by the necessities of life to which he/ she had been accustomed, such as clothing, shelter or even food, to a situation where these basics are not readily available (Guy, 1999).
The language barrier is also manifested when one desires to interact with the neighbors. The family may also feel cramped into a relatively smaller neighborhood in comparison to what they are used to back in their native homes, further contributing to the impact of culture shock.
As a point of note, it is increasingly necessary for the members of the expatriates’ family to be psychologically prepared to deal with the grim reality of abject poverty in foreign land, especially in Chile; this is so because most of the American populace is usually insulated against the same for the most part of their lives. A long-term impact on the mind of the average sensitive child, as a result of such exposure, has been deciphered by scholars the world over. The expatriates in some of these situations have also been impacted over the years, in one way or another, with some of them re-evaluating their choice of career.
Preparations to ensure success in the international assignment;
It has become common place for firms in the United States to provide training ground for their employees, especially in the wake of international assignments and the subsequent need to excel in the global endeavors. The expatriates themselves are now being screened through a rigorous selection process, so as to heighten the chances of success (Weiss, 1999).
In the same way, recommendations from the expatriates in their individual capacities on how best to improve their situation while abroad are encouraged, and include the avenues of availing sufficient time off to prepare for the intended move, a disambiguation of the performance criteria, a deliberate attempt to be trained in the localized dialects so as to facilitate effective communication, and also the consistency in expectations, whether at the domestic or international front (Glanz, 2005).
Another key consideration that largely goes unattended is the issue of repatriation of the international businessman; specific mechanisms should be constituted to ensure a successful re-entry.
Blonigen, M. (1996). Managing Global Operations: Focus on Expatriates. Columbus: The Ohio State University Press.
Glanz, L. (2005). Expatriate Stories: a Vehicle of Professional Development abroad? Nebraska: MCB UP ltd.
Guy, B. (1999). Managing effects of Culture Shock: Sojourner adjustment on the Expatriate Industrial Sales force. New Jersey: A1 Books.
Jalongo, R. (2000). Helping Children to Cope with relocation. Washington D.C: R & W Inc.
Moran, R. (2007). Managing Cultural Differences: Global Leadership Strategies for the 21st Century. Boston: Beacon Press.
Knight, K. (2003). The Overseas assignment: Tips to help you and your family prepare and adapt. London: Ten Speed Press.
Weiss, K. (1999). Look Carefully before You leap onto that Overseas Assignment. New York: Faulkner & Gray Publishers.