Gloria Chen, an American educated Chinese management consultant, was asked by China Mobile, a leading telecommunication company, to deliver training on career management. Following her own training in the USA, the consultant developed a three-day training program that focussed on deep reflection of who you are and what legacy you want to leave. Much to her surprise, participants reacted strongly to the training with emotional reactions and expressed desires for career change. The consultant, therefore, had to reflect upon the design of the training program and the disconnect between the approach and the context across international borders. This case, written on the basis of first-hand experience, presents a dilemma in training and development where western concepts meet an eastern audience and cultural incongruence brings up new challenges. It is intended for undergraduate and graduate students who are taking training and development courses or international business courses with regard to cultural differences.
This case was based on the author's first-hand experience of delivering training and development programs to China Mobile, with supplemental information including company background and executive quotations provided directly by the client. Video recording of the training program as the author experienced it is available for review and clips from the video may be used to assist teaching this case.
Relevant courses and levels
This case is a Training and Development Case written for use by undergraduate students in Human Resources (HR) Management classes. It can be used more broadly in international HR, International Management, or International Business where cultural differences might be a sizable component. For the topic of training and development, the students are expected to have learned about identifying training needs, theories of learning, different training approaches, and started to explore transferring the learning into international context. For the broader topic of cultural differences and international business, the students are expected to have learned about the different manifest of culture, especially social norms related to expression of emotions, as well as inter-cultural experiences for business people working overseas.
Learning styles and training approaches. Learning styles refer to the various ways of learning particular to an individual, that are presumed to allow that individual to learn best. Most people prefer an identifiable method of interacting with, taking in, and processing stimuli or information (Ackerman et al., 1989; Pashler et al., 2009). Based on this idea, successful delivery of training needs to take into consideration the learning styles of participants involved.
The author would like to acknowledge and extend heartfelt gratitude to China Mobile and its participating employees who have made the completion of this case possible.
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