UMES International Training Survey of US Engineers and Constructors Questions HelloRead Article “INTERNATIONAL TRAINING SURVEY OF U.S. ENGINEERS AND CONSTR

UMES International Training Survey of US Engineers and Constructors Questions HelloRead Article “INTERNATIONAL TRAINING SURVEY OF U.S. ENGINEERS AND CONSTRUCTORS” by Yates et al. and critique the paper with four following questions:What are the strengths of the paper?What are the weaknesses of the paper?What according to the paper are the “shortcomings in the behavior and training of U.S. professionals” on global assignments? What, in your opinion, could be the “shortcomings in the behavior and training of U.S. professionals” in global assignments in Construction? Assignment 6: Preparing to Work Globally
CONSTRUCTORS” by Yates et al. and critique the paper:
1. What are the strengths of the paper?
2. What are the weaknesses of the paper?
3. What according to the paper are the “shortcomings in the behavior and training of U.S.
professionals” on global assignments?
4. What, in your opinion, could be the “shortcomings in the behavior and training of U.S.
professionals” in global assignments in Construction?
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By Janet K. Yates,1 Member, ASCE
ABSTRACT: This article summarizes an investigation to determine which areas in
the training of U.S. expatriate engineers and constructors are viewed by foreign
engineers and construction personnel as inadequate, and to provide information on
the areas that are affecting the competitiveness of U.S. firms in the global marketplace. This paper presents information generated by a study of working relationships of foreign and U.S. engineering and construction professionals. The main
objective is to quantify evaluations performed by foreign nationals from engineering and construction firms from three East Asian countries, who worked on
joint venture projects, or as consultants to U.S. firms, and to determine whether
the training that U.S. engineering and construction professionals receive prior to
overseas assignments is adequate to prepare them to work in foreign environments.
This study also addresses the issue of whether the perceptions of foreign nationals
differ by their occupation, by working relationship with U.S. expatriates, and by
the position of the U.S. expatriates.
Along with increasing global competitiveness, U.S. firms are expanding
their services and supplying engineering and construction personnel to projects in many foreign countries. These professionals are being confronted
with diverse languages and cultures, unusual technologies, new forms of
corporate structures, and unfamiliar political systems. Many times they have
not been adequately trained on what to expect on foreign assignments.
Although U.S. engineering professionals have proven time and again their
technical competency, information on the interactions and working relationships between personnel from U.S. firms and their foreign counterparts has
been difficult to quantify. This lack of information has prevented a determination of whether U.S. professionals are receiving adequate training in
the areas of language, culture, customs, politics, corporate structures, and
technology transfer to function effectively in foreign cultures.
Previously, personnel working abroad were concerned mainly with completing the requisite projects. But recently foreign personnel and government
officials are realizing there is more to gain from expatriate firms than merely
business and technical expertise. Upper-level management personnel from
foreign companies are interested in dealing with expatriate firms whose employees treat foreign employees with respect, as professionals in their own
right (Copeland and Griggs 1985; Davis 1982; Grubb 1984).
During the last decade, engineering and construction firms have been experiencing a shift in the distribution of projects in the world marketplace.
The number of foreign contracts awarded to U . S . organizations has been
declining in real terms. Concern among members of the engineering and
construction industries over losing foreign contracts to firms from other counl
Asst. Prof., Civ., Envir., and Arch. Engrg. Dept., Univ. of Colorado, Boulder,
CO 80309-0428.
Note. Discussion open until June 1, 1991. To extend the closing date one month,
a written request must be filed with the ASCE Manager of Journals. The manuscript
for this paper was submitted for review and possible publication on April 27, 1990.
This paper is part of the Journal of Professional Issues in Engineering Education
and Practice, Vol. 117, No. 1, January, 1991. ©ASCE, ISSN 1052-3928/91/00010027/S1.00 + $.15 per page. Paper No. 25394.
J. Prof. Issues Eng. Educ. Pract. 1991.117:27-47.
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tries has prompted many explanations for declining market shares. These
include the interaction of U.S. expatriates with foreign nationals. American
engineering and construction firms may be sending their professional employees on overseas assignments with inadequate preparation on how to work
effectively in foreign environments. The latter has been hard to measure
quantitatively. One factor that contributes to this is the assumption that foreign nationals will adopt U.S. standards and methods, thus reducing the need
for specialized training of American expatriate professionals.
Consequently, U.S. organizations may inadvertently ignore the human element, which requires that engineers and construction professionals receive
proper training in nontechnical areas to maximize their effectiveness. In addition, engineering and construction professionals may not be socially acclimated to deal in international human relations. Although firms have always been careful about sending technically competent personnel on overseas
assignments, many firms may not be as careful about training in the areas
of interacting with foreign nationals, and adapting company services to foreign environments (Copeland and Griggs 1986; Grub 1984; Davis 1982).
To investigate this topic, a study was undertaken to evaluate perceptions
about U.S. engineering and construction professionals involved in projects
in East Asia, including Japan, Indonesia, South Korea, and Taiwan. The
goal was to determine if the perceptions of foreign nationals differ by countries, occupations, working relationships, and their status relative to the positions of their U.S. expatriate counterparts. In addition, the research examined how nontechnical preparation (or lack of preparation) of U.S.
engineering professionals affected their performance overseas, as perceived
by their foreign counterparts.
Only limited aspects of this research were investigated in depth, per design, in order to limit the scope of the study. This research by no means
exhausted the analysis that could be performed on the data, but leaves open
many avenues for further investigation.
Statement of Problem
Many variables influence the success or failure of U.S. firms in overseas
projects. One important variable is the nontechnical training U.S. expatriate
personnel receive prior to overseas assignments. But it is hard to assess whether
foreign professionals feel their relationship with U.S. expatriates would improve if U.S. expatriates received additional nontechnical training in the areas
of foreign cultures, customs, politics, technology transfer, and corporate
Purpose of Study
The primary purpose of this study was to assess and analyze, by means
of a questionnaire, the perceptions of foreign nationals on the adequacy of
the preparatory training U.S. expatriate engineering and construction professionals receive prior to working in foreign countries. This study tried to
determine whether the perceptions of foreign nationals vary by different
countries, occupations, working relationships, or positions held by U.S. expatriates.
The objectives of the research were to determine:
1. Whether foreign nationals feel U.S. engineering and construction professionals receive adequate nontechnical training for effective foreign work, and
J. Prof. Issues Eng. Educ. Pract. 1991.117:27-47.
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whether they think additional nontechnical training of expatriates would be beneficial to their working relationships.
2. If significant differences exist among different countries and companies in
the perception of shortcomings in the behavior and training of U.S. professionals.
3. Whether significant differences exist in the perceptions of foreign nationals
among the different: (a) occupations; (b) working relationships between foreign
nationals and U.S. expatriates; and (c) positions of U.S. expatriates.
4. Which factors, concerning the nontechnical training of U.S. professionals,
are considered to be of primary concern to foreign nationals.
5. Which issue areas are the most important to foreign nationals when selecting a firm to work in their country.
The questionnaire was developed to provide information on how foreign
nationals in engineering and construction perceive their U.S. counterparts.
The survey was directed to individuals who are natives of East Asian countries experienced in working with U.S. professionals.
To narrow the scope of the investigation, the areas surveyed were limited
to: (1) Language; (2) culture and customs; (3) politics; (4) technology; and
(5) corporate structures. The questionnaire also included a section with general questions to determine whether the questions in the first five sections
were interpreted properly and whether the responses to similar questions in
both sections were consistent.
Development of Questionnaire
This study evolved from a personal investigation by the writer, while living in Indonesia, concerning the difficulties foreign nationals encounter while
working with U.S. engineering and construction professionals. Foreign engineering and construction personnel indicated that they found it difficult to
work with U . S . expatriate engineering and construction personnel, both in
the U . S . and in their native countries. The major concern expressed by foreign nationals was the lack of nontechnical training for U.S. expatriates.
Employees from U.S. firms were also concerned, because they were losing
valuable contracts to Korean or lapanese firms. Therefore, this study was
undertaken to quantify the relationship of foreign nationals and U.S. personnel and to investigate several issues related to the competitiveness of U.S.
engineering and construction firms.
Before developing the questionnaire, several sources dealing with the development of cross-cultural surveys were reviewed (Caseley 1981; Holt 1970;
Raj 1972; Namboodiri 1978; Veldham and Young 1972). For the final format of the questionnaire, see Appendix I.
The first part of the questionnaire was used to categorize the questions.
The first section provided information on: (1) Occupations of the foreign
nationals; (2) working relationships of foreign nationals and U.S. expatriates;
and (3) types of position held by U.S. personnel.
Testing Questionnaire
After the preliminary draft was completed, five individuals from Indonesia, two from Japan, and one from Korea evaluated the questionnaire to
J. Prof. Issues Eng. Educ. Pract. 1991.117:27-47.
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predetermine: (1) If the instructions were clear; (2) if the questions were understandable; and (3) corrections to the questionnaire. The individuals were
selected because of varying backgrounds and because they represented a cross
section of future participants. As a result of the validation process, several
changes to the questionnaire were suggested, and these were incorporated
into the questionnaire.
Prior to the distribution of the final version, it was tested by the foreign
nationals who had assisted with the validation process. The version they
tested contained an ordinal scale, from one to five, for the survey participants to register their responses. But results obtained from the sample survey
indicated that if an ordinal scale were used, a majority of the responses
would be neutral (a response at the three level). Several of the East Asian
cultures under investigation have cultural norms wherein it is impolite to
offend others. Therefore, any scale alluding to derogatory terms would likely
elicit neutral responses at best.
After receiving consistently neutral responses to the sample surveys, the
survey was altered to include only yes/no responses for each question. Yes/
no responses reduce the chances of the respondents misinterpreting the descriptive words, which usually accompany a five-point scale system (i.e.,
1, never; 2, rarely; 3, occasionally; 4, frequently; 5, always).
Scope Reduction
The countries originally selected for inclusion in this study included Australia, Denmark, England, Holland, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Pakistan, and
Taiwan. These were selected because native engineering and construction
professionals have worked with U.S. expatriates.
The scope of the research was reduced because several European companies included in the study returned blank surveys with the explanation that
their exposure to U.S. engineering professionals was minimal.
The original proposal was to study 10 countries. The scope change reduced the countries to only those East Asian nations in which U.S. engineering and construction firms have had active participation, and where there
is a potential for continued participation by personnel from U.S. engineering
and construction firms.
Country Selection Considerations
A variety of criteria were used to determine which countries to study,
including: (1) Countries where many different types of U.S. engineering and
construction firms have been involved; (2) countries where the government
currently in power has not precluded further involvement of U.S. firms; and
(3) countries with potential for continued involvement of U.S. engineering
and construction firms. Some of the countries satisfy the first two criteria,
being politically and economically stable, but may not have further need for
the services of U.S. firms.
Using these, East Asia was examined to determine which countries conformed to the restricted criteria. Countries considered included the 15 nations
that make up East Asia: Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Nepal, North Korea, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Singapore,
South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam. These were sorted into three
categories, based on the established criteria.
After comparing the criteria concerning U.S. involvement with the 15 East
J. Prof. Issues Eng. Educ. Pract. 1991.117:27-47.
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Asian countnes, the study was reduced to Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the
Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan. From these seven countries, the following four were selected on the basis of their differing cultures
and the availability of contacts within each: Indonesia, Japan, South Korea,
and Taiwan.
One additional consideration in the selection of the final four nations was
that most of their engineering and construction professionals were familiar
with English. By selecting countries where English is a prominent language,
the questionnaire did not have to be translated into different languages, thus
eliminating translation errors.
Company Selection Considerations
Companies within each of the four foreign nations were examined to determine which were representative engineering and construction firms. Most
countries involved had fewer than four major engineering and construction
firms, which reduced the number of candidates for the survey.
The major firms to which the researcher had access were:
1. Japan: Japanese Gasoline Corporation (JGC); Chiyoda; and Nippon Kokan
2. Taiwan: China Engineering Consultants, Inc. (CECI); Chinese Petroleum
Corporation (CPC); and Chinese Technological Consultants, Inc. (CTCI).
3. South Korea: Daelim Construction.
4. Indonesia: Purna Bina Indonesia (PBI); Inti Karya Persada Teknik (IKPT);
Tripatra; and P. T. Badak.
Of these companies, questionnaires were sent to JGC, Japan; CECI, CTCI,
and CPC, Taiwan; Daelim Construction, Korea; Tripatra, IKPT, PBI, and
P. T. Badak, Indonesia.
Responses were received from JGC, CECI, IKPT, Tripatra, P. T. Badak,
and Daelim.
Questionnaires were completed by the employees of the South Korean
company, Daelim, but the firm representative assisting with the survey was
unable to return the completed questionnaires because of restrictions of the
South Korean government.
Data Collection and Analysis
The forms were mailed directly to a contact person within each company,
who previously agreed to assist with the study. Inclusion of an intermediary
helped overcome one of the main obstacles of survey research, i.e., low
response rates. Of the 370 questionnaires distributed, 7 1 % (262) were returned.
Completed surveys were first prepared for computer analysis and then coded
by overall company averages (percentage of yes responses). A second coding
was done according to the information provided on the foreign nationals:
occupations, working relationships, and positions. The replies were coded
by: (1) Country; (2) company; (3) occupation of the foreign national; (4)
working relationship to U.S. expatriates; and (5) the positions held by U.S.
Data were analyzed using the Statistical Analysis System developed by
the S.A.S. Institute, Inc. {Statistical 1984), of Cary, N . C . , including anal31
J. Prof. Issues Eng. Educ. Pract. 1991.117:27-47.
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ysis of variance (ANOVA) tests and Duncan’s tests. The purpose of using
ANOVA and Duncan’s tests was to find similarities in the responses. A level
of significance of 0.05 or less (confidence interval of 1-0.05, or 95%, with
0.05 representing 5%) was established for reporting significant differences
between responses.
A major area of interest was the occupational background of the survey
participants. To determine the category of a participant (engineering design,
engineering and construction, construction management, manufacturing, or
finance) a professional background information form was included as Section
I of the survey (see Appendix III). Information obtained from this section
of the questionnaire was used to track individual responses throughout the
Table 1 summarizes the occupations of the survey participants, and includes the percentage of the total each of the occupations represented. In
addition, Table 2 includes normalized frequencies and percentages. In Table
1, the total number of responses was greater than the total number of surveys
because the respondents could indicate involvement in more than one occupation. Therefore, the data in Table 1 were normalized to a scale where
the totals were equivalent to the 262 replies.
The majority of responses received (43%) were from engineering design
personnel. The second highest percentage (27%) was from engineering and
TABLE 1. Overall Summary of Occupations
Engineering design
Engineering and construction
Construction management
TABLE 2. Overall Summary of Working Relationships
Direct colleague
J. Prof. Issues Eng. Educ. Pract. 1991.117:27-47.
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TABLE 3. Overall Summary of Positions U.S. Expatriates Held on Overseas Assignments
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