Choosing Managers for Your Overseas Operations

School Ties

If you've used all these tactics and have been unable to find a suitable candidate, it may be time to go back to school. Many U.S. universities have large enrollments of students from around the world. And many of these students, after spending several years here pursuing their studies, are ready to return home, bringing with them both business acumen and an understanding of U.S. business culture.

Recent graduates may carry advantages such as reasonable salary demands and familiarity with current business theories and technology. But experts note they are likely to be short on practical experience and, after a spell back in their home country, may want to return to the United States.

Be careful, too, about hiring foreign students who are too Americanized. People who came here when they were very young may have no better understanding of foreign cultures than you do.

In some cultures, adds Foster, locals who have become Americanized are misunderstood or even resented. "You may have more luck if you don't send a Japanese-American to Japan," he says. "The Japanese will assume [these people are] Japanese, not American. And when it's revealed that they're American, the Japanese often have a problem dealing with that."

An increasing number of U.S. business schools offer international business management degrees; hiring one of these graduates may sound like the perfect solution. But many of these students want to work for and are heavily recruited by high-profile multinational corporations.

You may find, however, that even a student with a diploma certifying international business expertise isn't quite what you need, says Jacqueline Wasilewski, Tokyo-based president of Sietar International, a cultural education association. Some graduates have culturally generic skills that are a poor fit for an entrepreneur who needs skills specific to a single country.

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This article was originally published in the October 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: From A Distance.

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