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'Advice On Cross-Border Work Assignments' by Grant Goddard
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'Advice On Cross-Border Work Assignments' by Grant Goddard

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Advice and suggestions to personnel undertaking cross-border / international work assignments, written by Grant Goddard in April 2003 for Henley Business School.

Advice and suggestions to personnel undertaking cross-border / international work assignments, written by Grant Goddard in April 2003 for Henley Business School.


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  • 1. ADVICE ON CROSS-BORDER WORK ASSIGNMENTS by GRANT GODDARD www.grantgoddard.co.uk April 2003
  • 2. Cross-border work can be very rewarding and productive, if you approach it in the certain knowledge that:  you will never know as much about your overseas colleagues' business environment as they do;  they will never know as much about your business culture as you do;  you will both need to learn as much as you can about each other, regardless of the tasks at hand. The most productive way to become acquainted with and, hopefully, to partially understand another business culture, is to go there:  buy a map and walk everywhere, rather than take taxis;  use public transport, however complicated the system and tickets might seem initially;  visit all sorts of shops and cafes, even if you do not need them;  listen to the radio, watch television and go to cultural events, even if you do not understand the language;  do not stick to tourist haunts, where all you will meet are other foreigners;  travel on your own, enabling your senses to observe and imbibe your surroundings without distraction. People. However similar to you they may look, it is potentially disastrous to assume that they are the same as you. Learn how people function, not by reading about them in guide books, but by talking with them. Not just about work, but about their hopes, aspirations, fears and experiences. Meet their families and children, invite them to Sunday brunch, go to an outdoor event with them. Processes. Engage in civic life. Understand the politics and the cultural infrastructure. Hire a car, drive outside the city and visit small villages. Watch ordinary people and the way they live their lives. Catch a train. Sit in a cafe. Visit the park. Enjoy a museum. Understand how leisure time and income are used. Technology. Observe not only which technologies exist, but the ways in which they are used. For example, mobile phones are sometimes used abroad in very different ways to ours; and internet users have different priorities than in the UK. The mere fact that a particular technology exists there tells you nothing about what it is being used for, or what value it confers on the user. Wherever you are, it is essential to approach the world with a truly open mind so that you can observe and understand "what is going on." Follow these rules:  Never assume that anything similar to something in your own culture will in fact be similar, have similar attractions or offer similar utility to a similar customer base.  Never try to directly compare or explain away any cross-border differences you may find. Accept that if country A exhibits X and country B exhibits Y, the two phenomena are unrelated.  Expect to be lonely, to be exasperated, to be frustrated, and to spend twice as long achieving your objective as you do at home. Then, on the occasion that something does goes right, you will feel rewarded. Advice On Cross-Border Work Assignments ©2003 Grant Goddard page 2
  • 3.   Ask questions. Understanding comes from information. Never be afraid to ask about even the most basic things. Never allow yourself to become world-weary. Every city in every country is unique. Open your senses to these differences. Ignore such differences at your peril. Grant Goddard is a media analyst / radio specialist / radio consultant with thirty years of experience in the broadcasting industry, having held senior management and consultancy roles within the commercial media sector in the United Kingdom, Europe and Asia. Details at http://www.grantgoddard.co.uk Advice On Cross-Border Work Assignments ©2003 Grant Goddard page 3