In reading “Four Seasons Goes to Paris,” Hallowell, Bowen, and Knoop put forward several factors that led to the Four Seasons’ success in the Paris market. Some of these factors are tied in with the Four Seasons’ global growth strategy, while some are specific to the corporate culture of the Four Seasons while others were specific corporate goals related to entering the Paris market. One of the factors that made the Four Seasons’ entry into the Paris market so successful was the fact that they took over the management of what was referred to as a “Palace Hotel”.
The took over what was the George V Hotel, refurbishing it for contemporary travelers while retaining the old Art Deco styling that the hotel was know for (Hallowell et al). They closed for a two year renovation, reducing the number of rooms, and restoring the facade and art deco windows (Ibid). Additionally, the French interior designer utilized the artwork and tapestries that had adorned the lobby to make it appear as though not much had changed, yet gave the feeling that a guest felt more comfortable within the hotel’s confines (Ibid).
The renovations also had American life-safety standards while complying with French sanitation and construction laws (Ibid). The Four Seasons was also very cognizant about the French employment laws when entering the Paris market. When entering the market, the Four Seasons sat down and explained exactly how they would operate within the confines of French labor law and the union system. This put the minds of the unions at ease, and they were surprisingly compliant with the Four Seasons in their overall goals.
By implementing the 35 hour workweek, the Four Seasons was complying not only with the letter of French law, but with the spirit as well (Ibid). This “was a major signal to the unions and workforce about the way the company approached human resource issues (Ibid). ” The next thing that helped with the Four Seasons’ entry into the market was the cultural renovation that occurred. By this, one means the attitude change that the Four Seasons injected into the market.
In this respect, they maintained their corporate ideals of service while cherishing the French way of employee-employer relations (Ibid). To also ease this relationship, a “Franco-Francais” boss was hired. Didier Le Calvez is a traditional Frenchman that had been in the Four Seasons organization for a number of years (Ibid). Fourth was the way in which the Four Seasons recognized their employees. They offered a private savings plan, evaluated employees on performance of the Four Seasons’ standards, and even dialoged with employees so they knew where they stood (Ibid).
Employees were also encouraged to share their opinions of the company and of their bosses (Ibid). This is virtually unheard of in France, but as a level of trust developed between the employees and the employers, the employees were willing to be open and honest with management regarding issues that emerged (Ibid). Overall, the success of the Four Seasons can be linked directly to the careful way they entered the market and their strict adherence to both local laws and customs and a corporate culture that has made them so successful.
With this successful integration technique, there is no doubt that the Four Seasons will continue to be successful in their international operations. In the article “Adapting to a Boundaryless World: A Developmental Expatriate Model,” Sanchez, Spector and Cooper point out many stressors inherent in being an expatriate business person. The identify eight stages of expatriation and the primary stressors and the coping responses of both the executive and the employer. The first stage is expatriate selection.
The primary stressor is the unreadiness that the executive feels at the prospect of this new assignment. The best coping mechanism that the employee can have is to engage in self evaluation. The employer can assist with this by encouraging this self evaluation and encourage the employee to encourage their family to engage in the same self evaluation. The employer can also assist the employee in performing an assessment of both potential and interests (Sanchez et al). The second stage is assignment acceptance.
The primary stressor here is having an unrealistic evaluation of stressors to come and having a hurried time frame. In other words, the employee may over estimate or underestimate the stress involved in being an expatriate. The executive can cope with this stress by viewing the assignment as a growth opportunity rather than a chance for a vertical promotion. The employer can reduce this stress by not making promises they cannot keep and clarifying the expectations of the employee (Ibid). The third stage is pre and post arrival training.
The stressor for this stage is quite simple. It is the ignorance of cultural differences. The employee can cope with this stressor by not making unwarranted assumptions of their cultural competence and the rules of the culture. The employer can assist by providing pre, during, and post assignment training and encourage the employee to seek support when needed (Ibid). The fourth stage is the arrival stage, where the stressor is just the sheer cultural shock. There is also stressor reevaluation and feelings of lack of cultural fit and differential treatment.
The employee can cope by not keeping the host and parent cultures as mutually exclusive. The expatriate should also seek social support. The employer can assist by providing post arrival training and facilitate participation in an expatriate network (Ibid). The fifth stage is the novice stage. Cultural blunders and feelings of inadequacy are common at this stage. There is also the feeling of inability to decipher meaning in various situations. The employee can observe and study the locals, but not duplicate responses that work at home (Ibid).
The sixth stage is the transitional stage. The primary stressor is the rejection of the host or parent culture. The employee can combat this by forming and maintaining attachments with both parent and host culture. The employer response should be multi-pronged, promoting culturally sensitive policies at the host country, providing internet access to family and friends at home, and maintain constant communication and periodic visits to the parent organization (Ibid). At the seventh stage, mastery, the stressors are frustration with the inability to perform a boundary spanning role.
The employee is also bothered by living in a cultural “paradox (2000). ” The executive can cope with this by enjoying identification with two cultures. The employer can be of assistance by reinforcing dual identification (Ibid). The final stage, repatriation, is arguably as difficult as the fourth stage, as it is arrival in reverse. The stressors here are the fact that the executive is disappointed with unfulfilled expectations and a sense of isolation. There is also a feeling of loss of autonomy.
The expatriate can cope by doing the same thing as when they accepted the assignment, that is, view the assignment as a growth opportunity both personally and professionally. The employer can help by arraigning pre repatriation interviews and briefings. They can also schedule post repatriation support meetings (Ibid). The expatriate executive faces many stressors when in the process of accepting an international assignment. By effectively identifying stressors and finding coping mechanisms, the international experience can be a rewarding experience for the employee, their family, and the company.
Also by working together, the employee and the international community can form lasting bonds that go beyond the business world and to the personal world as well. Works Cited Hallowell, R, Bowen, D, & Knoop, C (2002). Four seasons goes to Paris. Academy of Management Executive, 16, 17-24. Sanchez, J. , Spector, P. , & Cooper, G. (2000). Adapting to a boundaryless world: a developmental expatriate model. Academy of Management Executive, 14, 96-107.