As consulting firms look to expand, often inter- national growth receives high consideration as a method of advancement from the leadership
team. The consulting firm already has the skill set and
knowledge to do the work, it only makes sense to expand the geographic coverage, right? Wrong!
When preparing a firm for international expansion,
consider the various methods the leadership team may
leverage. Cultures and Organization notes these common methods:
• Organic growth with the greenfield start.
• International strategic alliance.
• Joint venture with a foreign partner.
• Foreign acquisition.
• Cross-national merger.
But as you know, it is not that simple! Leaders must
start with a realistic perspective, including the global
competencies and human resource development, that is
necessary for cross-cultural success.
As Paula Caligiuri, leading consultant and educator
in global development, states in her book Cultural Agility, “talent management is one of the most critical vehicles for implementing global business growth strategies
for the future.” Leadership teams looking to expand their
consulting firm internationally must first inventory their
current human resources and team of consultants. From
a strategic perspective, leadership teams must identify
which culture(s) may be most beneficial for organizational
growth. This is critical as all hiring and training practices
should focus back on competencies, principles, and information that are invaluable for the target culture(s). Further, by identifying a target culture, the firm—from sales
through to consultancy—has direction in which to work.
If the firm is aiming to shift the current, domestic team
into servicing international clients, consider the neces-
sity of organizational learning for organic cross-cultural
growth. And, as a leader within the firm, it is important
to emphasize organizational learning. This attitude of
organizational learning is far more than just knowledge
acquisition but deals with integration, development, and
improvement of the way in which the business performs.
Some management scholars have classified organizational learning into four simple yet critical dimensions:
acquisition of distinctive insights, distribution among the
team, shared impressions and interpretation, and memory for future usage. With this perspective, the team is
equipped with an attitude of willingness, and an understanding of the value growth brings. Both human resource
management along with individual initiatives help firms
to achieve success during cross-cultural expansion efforts.
HR MANAGEMENT HIRING PRACTICES
Each culture is different. Because of that, it is critical
for the leadership team to communicate with the firm’s
HR practitioners in order to have a proper inventory of
the firm’s current talent pool. This inventory must account for the specific cultural competencies and needs
of the target culture(s). This is essential as hiring managers look to fill necessary talent gaps of the firm with
new candidates. Because cross-cultural considerations
are critical, HR practitioners must look outside the typical North American style of selection. They must look
beyond the schooling, certifications, professional experience, and job-specific skills. Consider these examples
of cross-cultural insights:
Navigating International Expansion of a Domestically
Based Consulting Firm
BY SARAH SKIDMORE