Best Cross-Cultural Training Practices for North American and European Expatriates in China: A Delphi Study


  • Harjinder Cheema DBA, PEng, CMA

    1. Interwrap Inc.
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    • Harjinder Cheema, DBA, PEng, CMA is the director of global capital projects for Interwrap Inc., a Canadian headquartered multinational manufacturer of coated polyolefin products. He is involved with all aspects of manufacturing plant projects from initial concept to complete execution and start-up. He has completed multiple projects in North America, India and China over the past 19 years and can be reached at


The deployment of expatriate managers by business leaders is expensive, with the cost reported to be in the millions of lost revenue dollars when expatriates fail at their assignment. The rate of failure, which can result in financial loss and talent depletion, necessitates an examination of successful training strategies and techniques used by North American or European expatriates, especially in China, where expatriates face many cross-cultural challenges. The purpose of this modified Delphi study was to explore the strategies and techniques used to prepare expatriates before relocating to China and to develop consensus on the elements most necessary for a successful cross-cultural training (CCT) program. Twenty-three expatriates with at least one year of experience in a foreign assignment participated in the study. Three rounds of data collection and analysis resulted in consensus for the inclusion of 61 CCT outcomes, covering the seven categories for adaptation. The categories were (a) cultural shock and transition; (b) professional and working life, which was grouped into two subcategories of skills and knowledge and cultural awareness and understanding; (c) language and communication; (d) general cultural training; (e) living in China; and (f) training methods. The findings in the current study are important with respect to the identification of a multidimensional theoretical construct for the development of practitioner training programs.