“Cultural distance” Presents Problem in Finding Talent for MNCs in China

This interesting post from Wharton – http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article.cfm?articleid=2903 – highlights the gap between the expansion of multinationals in China and the capacity of China’s education system (and ours) to prepare young professionals to meet the challenges of working in the country.  The good news is the growth in the number of Chinese students abroad – about 200,000 in 2010 – along with a 30% increase over 2009 in the number studying in the U.S.  The article cites the development of innovative new inter-university linkages as illustrated by the China Europe International Business School hiring its new dean from the Harvard School of Business.  The complexity of learning Mandarin and fully adapting to the cross-cultural nuances and norms of doing business in China are a barrier to success for U.S. managers.  Chinese staff have difficulty in successfully using the English skills they may have learned while abroad after returning home.

These are certainly not new issues, however, they take on new importance with the explosion of bi-lateral ties between China and the U.S.

I think this issue will continue to be a challenge and an opportunity for U.S. universities, Chinese academic institutions and the business community for a long time to come.

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