Choosing Managers for Your Overseas Operations

Beyond Bicultural

Even if you succeed in hiring a bicultural manager, your search may be just beginning. That's because, increasingly, having expertise in two cultures isn't enough.

"The concept of the bicultural manager is outdated," says Wasilewski. "Organizations that are going to be effective in the 21st century are going to be global organizations. People in top management are going to have to have multicultural skills, not just bicultural skills."

A global manager is both less and more than a bicultural executive. Global managers have a smattering of knowledge specific to many cultures, rather than in-depth experience in a few. They may speak only one language fluently, but what they do have is an understanding of how to appraise and adjust to the requirements of doing business in a culture different from the one they're used to.

Global managers are needed because cultures themselves are becoming less distinct. "A Japanese manager coming into the U.S. to run a factory is probably managing a work force with a lot of Hispanics," notes Wasilewski. "It's not enough for that manager to be bicultural."

Going global may seem like a tall order, but more and more, it's what's required to succeed in today's competitive world.

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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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