Challenges and limitations of intercultural training for inpatriates in German multinationals
: a case study

  • Yvonne A. Henze

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    Despite the increasing popularity of research on intercultural preparation and its effectiveness, research on training for inpatriates has not been developed with the same level of rigour as research on training for expatriates. Furthermore, research on intercultural training hardly ever includes the aspect of preparing for the corporate culture of a company. For expatriates coming from headquarters’ national culture and equipped with a good knowledge of headquarters’ corporate culture, it might be sufficient to address only the national culture of the location abroad. But can the same be said for inpatriates coming from a foreign subsidiary? Therefore the qualitative research of my thesis was aimed at finding out if intercultural training programmes that address only the national culture of the host country are sufficient to prepare inpatriates for working at headquarters. A case study using a German multinational company has been conducted in order to find out what kind of problems and irritations inpatriates at the company’s headquarters perceive at work. In order to determine whether the findings are related to the national or the corporate culture, Hall’s and Hofstede’s approaches to culture were used. The interview analysis produced the following conclusion: Although the researched company promotes standardised worldwide corporate guidelines, there are many differences between headquarters and subsidiaries regarding the interpretation and realisation of these guidelines. These differences cause irritation, confusion and problems for the inpatriates. Therefore an effective intercultural preparation for inpatriates should be tailor-made and take into account the aspect of corporate culture, as well as the specific roles and functions of inpatriates.
    Date of AwardOct 2009
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorClaudia Gremler (Supervisor) & Nigel B Reeves (Supervisor)


    • expatriates
    • headquarters
    • corporate culture
    • national culture
    • case study

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