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A study of the training experience of Chinese trainees in a different national context

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posted on 23.02.2017 by Liu, Jie
While the demand for training that is conducted in cross-cultural settings has increased substantially (Sun & Ross, 2009), most training concepts have been developed with little consideration of national context. Those studies that have considered the impact of national context (Branine, 2005; Sofo, 2007; Sun & Ross, 2009; Yang, Wang, & Drewry, 2009) have not done so in a systematic or comprehensive manner. Accordingly, this research involved an exploratory study focusing on the influence of key national context factors, that is, sociocultural influences (Ralston, 2008) and business ideology (Ralston et al., 2006), on training in cross-cultural settings. The study explored the way in which these factors impact on Chinese trainees’ perceptions of their training experience and the implications of those perceptions for the training process. In view of the exploratory nature of the study, an interpretivist philosophical perspective was adopted. A general framework of the training process was developed, based on an integration of three key strands of the literature relating to training, adult learning and national context, and utilised to provide focus and to anchor the range of data collected. A case study strategy was adopted based on two training programs, one involving Chinese managers trained in China and the other involving Chinese managers trained in Australia, both using semi-structured interviews. Each case study was divided into two stages with stage 2 occurring three months after stage 1 to capture information relating to retention and reproduction. Findings indicated that national context in China had a major impact on trainee expectations which, in the Australian program, emphasised the need to gain new insights to deal with current challenges in China. The Chinese program, however, emphasised the acquisition of detailed industry knowledge to deal with those challenges. Trainee work experience was found to have both positive influences relating to the expertise that adult learners brought to the training, and potentially negative influences relating to a tendency to be prematurely selective about which content should be regarded as useful and important. Findings highlighted problems associated with communication resulting from language differences, and also indicated that national context had a major influence in the pre-training, during-training and post-training stages of the training process. In terms of implications, findings indicated that national context factors must be explicitly addressed by training practitioners, first, through recognising the objectives and expectations associated with the training, and second, through communicating and disseminating relevant information about differences in national context and the likely impact, amongst all involved in the training process. Another key implication relates to the fact that the expertise, maturity and work experience of adult learners should be addressed and should inform the way training is conducted. Training approaches should therefore be developed that recognise the influences of both national context and adult learning. In terms of new contributions to knowledge, the study addresses the paucity of literature directly associated with the conduct of training in cross-cultural settings by integrating literature related to training, cultural studies and adult learning. This provides the basis for a more coherent study of training in cross-cultural settings. The study also addresses important gaps in previous literature, highlighting the importance of national context when training is conducted in cross-cultural settings and confirming the influence of factors that have already been given significant levels of attention in the cultural studies literature. Finally, the study highlights the fundamental importance of taking adult learning principles into account as part of the training process. As a result of globalisation, and greater efforts by underdeveloped and developing economies to benefit from the experiences of developed economies, it is likely that the popularity and importance of training that is conducted in cross-cultural settings will increase substantially in the near future. This study indicates that, given distinct differences between training that is conducted in cross-cultural settings and training that is conducted in single-culture settings, approaches that are adopted to the design and conduct of training need to be adjusted accordingly. The study seeks to highlight key differences to provide guidelines to practitioners and a basis for further academic research.


Campus location


Principal supervisor

Alan Lawton

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre



Faculty of Business and Economics