Managing Competence Development Programs in a Cross-Cultural Organisation : What are the barriers and enablers?

Abstract: During the past decade, research on competence development and cross-cultural organisation has been acknowledged both in academic circles and by industrial organisations. Cross-cultural organisations that have emerged through globalisation are a manifestation of the growing economic interdependence among countries. In cross-cultural organisations, competence development has become an essential strategic tool for taking advantage of the synergy effects of globalisation. The objective of this thesis is to examine how competence development programs are conducted and to identify barriers and enablers for the success of such programs, especially in a cross-cultural organisation.To identify the processes involved in managing competence development programs in a cross-cultural organisation, a case study method was chosen. A total of 43 interviews and 33 surveys were held with participants, facilitators and managers in competence development programs at four units of IKEA Trading Southeast Asia located in Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia, respectively. In addition to the observations made on these four competence development programs, a study of the literature in related research areas was conducted. The interviews were held and the survey data collected in 2003 and 2004.In the findings, the barriers identified were cultural differences, assumptions, language, and mistrust; the enablers were cultural diversity, motivation, management commitment, and communication. The conclusions are that competence development is a strategic tool for cross-cultural organisations and that it is extremely important to identify barriers to, and enablers of, successful competence development, and to eliminate the barriers and support the enablers right from the early stages of competence development programs.