Lifespan Development: Cultural norms or personal needs?
Which one would you choose to visualize your life? They may seem quite similar and yet be very different. Both go along nine stages of a lifespan but in different directions and different coloring.
Building/buying a house
Do you experience different timing, sequences, or different qualities of life stages? Or do you even have different ones than what is socially customary? Maybe there’s indeed a need to rethink the concept of conventional lifespan development. There will still be falling in love, having children, and many other aspects (not to forget spiritual ones). But because today many young people worry about their life ahead, adults struggle with seeing meaning in it, elderly living in apathy long after they’ve stopped to lead a functional one, and then regret or denial on the death bed. Shouldn’t life be more joyful? Without giving prescriptive answers, the following considerations from lifespan psychology may provide some additional perspectives.
When and how one progresses with what personal development step varies a lot between cultures. Even within a particular culture, if not suppressed completely, different life paths can be observed as well. However, the vast majority within a culture chooses to conform with an established “norm.” But do these norms meet the personal desires of a human being, and do they take individual developmental needs into account?
Developmental neurobiological processes are more influential in early life stages (i.e., childhood), but cultural and social learning effects increase at later life stages.
Individuals in Eastern cultures relate in a more interdependent way than a more individualistic Western understanding of the self. At the same time, though, it was found that even in the East, the desire for some autonomous identity is a universally inherent human feature. Similarly, Parental over-control frustrates children both in the US and China.
19th and 20th century Western and Eastern artists were analyzed, and it was found that Eastern artists tend to arrive at their artistic peak achievement later in life, reflecting the Eastern tradition to emphasize the process to excellence rather than the more Western focus on originality and delivery.
Low self-esteem is linked to depression and reduced subjective well-being. Still, on the other side, heightened self-esteem risks degenerating to narcissism and the need to be better than others, which results in separateness. Instead of such a discriminatory pathway to self-worth, Eastern philosophies, such as Buddhism’s mindfulness practices that promote self-compassion instead, are hopefully more and more (re-)discovered.
Mainly, lifespan development focuses on behavioral and material aspects, while it still discards concepts of expanded consciousness such as the already decades-old self-actualization theory. Also, statistical analysis prevails, and more qualitative research might help understand individuals’ life journeys better and add to a more person-centric and contextual perspective in studying lifespan development.
Economically developed regions, sometimes referred to as Western countries, make up only 20 percent of the world population, while developing economies’ population is even disproportionately continuing to grow. At the same time, economic development in the Non-Western, often collectivist societies is likely to dramatically influence the outcome of related cultures. Therefore, psychology needs to focus more on where the big changes and populations are to understand human development.
To further integrate all relevant aspects of human development, a closer collaboration between life-course sociology and life span psychology seems to be a further promising aspiration. Like the emergence of culture and art marked a new era of Homo sapiens some ten thousand years ago, maybe breakthroughs in understanding human lifespan development related to culture may define the next evolutionary steps of humanity.
I am convinced that more answers lie in how people manage to develop independently of the good opinion of others. In the past, critical thinkers were persecuted and hanged; today, these are considered heroic philosophers. Is it still worthwhile to stand up for something against the resistance of the mainstream? Surely. I believe that this is precisely one of life’s goals: to express one’s ideas, create, and put service to something bigger above one’s own desires.
Learning for life, for one’s own identity, is learner-led and requires conditions of personal freedom; this also applies when learning from the past. The free Self (one’s intrapersonal level), not culture, societal history, religion, and judgment of others around us, teaches us about our true Self.
There are three main obstacles to self-reflective learning from the intrapersonal past (or short in Awareness Intelligence terms, ‘intra-past’)
Obstacle 1: Focus on inter- and extra-personal aspects of the past
The extrapersonal level of the past can be defined as the societal scope beyond interpersonal relationships, including the historic narratives we get during raising, enculturation, and religious education. In the worst case, traditions, beliefs, religious scripts, etc., strictly adhere to fundamentalist attachment. Especially older people sometimes show a propensity towards retrospective non-self-related thoughts. One explanation is that age can cause a weakened ability to recall individual (intrapersonal) past experiences. But others possess the cognitive ability and stick to the non-intrapersonal aspects in creating their worldview. Societal pressure, lack of personal freedom and agency, and learned mechanisms to defend privileges are possible reasons. In any case, a strong emphasis on family history and ancestral heritage usually holds an individual back from updating one’s self-concept meaningfully as advantageous for adaptations to current and future situations. It is to hope that we create the conditions for individuals to be closer to themselves, which is the only way to become closer with humanity overall.
Obstacle 2: Exclusive mindfulness in the intra-present
See upcoming painting
Obstacle 3: Over-identification with the inter-present
“Many of us have been convinced that we carry the darkness within us, in our selfish genes. “It is simply human nature,” we’re told, “to rape and kill and enslave—and anyone who thinks otherwise is a foolish romantic.” This messaging not only offends our decency and dignity, it insults our intelligence. The depiction of human nature embedded in the narrative of perpetual progress isn’t science; it’s a marketing campaign for the status quo.” – Civilized to Death (Christopher Ryan)
‘Civilized to Death’ counters the idea that progress is inherently good. Chris Ryian argues that the “progress” defining our age is analogous to an advancing disease, but he does not deny the benefit from specific achievements. For example, child mortality has decreased dramatically. However, already in ancient times people lived well into their seventies once they surpassed the age of fifteen.
The ones constantly striving for more (as defined by our socio-economic system) and the so-considered wealthy and happy ones carry like all of us the same burden of perpetual dissatisfaction from the unhealthy structures and related human estrangement. Connections make people happy, and status and wealth often even come with isolation. Maybe due to the Corona measures put on us, the system favors the rich again in this aspect, as the resources and space available allow them to maintain a social environment more easily. The people told to stay in their tiny homes and away from their workplaces and closed public recreational opportunities can’t.
Nevertheless, this book is very timely, fair, and balanced. It does not ignore the signs of civilization heading towards a culmination point of destroying itself (as all high cultures have in the past). On the other hand, the author encourages a positive outlook that appreciates every individual’s humanity. Unfortunately, the capitalist system cannot successfully support us in living up to our potential and a truly vibrant life.
‘Civilized to Death’ does not only rely on a vast collection of scientific study results but convinces through well-illustrated arguments and impressive observations. By comparing ours to pre-historic life, the picture favors the genuine and content foraging societies. In contrast, the life our ancestors have preferred over hundreds of thousands of years (and still did/do when being offered/forced into civilization), contemporary men appear like disturbed creatures living in a self-designed zoo. If people don’t hoard and possess and instead have free access to natural resources (because these are not yet misappropriated and made scarce by the economic system, there is no reason to fight wars.
While we have learned to see the world from a scarcity point of view where we protect our feeling of never having enough, foragers felt rich given the abundance they saw available around them. Of course, their consumption was much less (and so was obesity and related diseases). Therefore, today’s high world population isn’t the issue at hand. Also, the small forager communities did not concentrate in cities and nations. They were characterized by inclusive, appreciative, and egalitarian structures that met their desire for anti-authoritarian co-living, collaboration, and mutual help.
The book offers many eye-opening findings and logical explanations for why progress in the wrong direction is not the gift that is sold to us. The tremendous amount of money in this world wants to grow, and personal growth seems to be coupled with such an understanding of richness. That’s why people accept being sold countless myths (not to say ‘lies’) and buy into the narrative of perpetual progress.
If we are interested in living a conscious life that respects us holistically as fully, healthily functioning, and enjoying human beings, then this is a fantastic read. The book connects the dots in an interdisciplinary way, and it courageously clarifies what many of us feel in our guts. There is hope for chances to correct the history of wars. We must look back far enough and learn from the times before the spread of our all-consuming civilization that constantly tries to fix its self-created problems with commercially driven symptom fighting. I hope you enjoy this enormous treasure trove of healthier alternatives attainable for everyone, society, and the future of all humanity and the planet.
What a significant purpose of life: Life isn’t about learning to fit in somewhere; it is about creating somebody new.
Of course, you may want to stay social and cooperative with people in your life. However, with time, the nature of these relationships might transform as your awareness regenerates. Separation from yourself and others means, in a psycho-spiritual way, that you let go of your identity, which is based on social conformity and cultural beliefs that would be misbeliefs in a different culture. You also must let go of attachment to others’ judgments, which are opinions only and have little if anything to do with truth. By distancing yourself from the idealized role you have learned to assume during all the years of education, socialization, and enculturation, you begin to see who you really are.
Don’t waste your thoughts on interpreting equipment, façade styles, and fashions. They are not relevant to our true selves, and they go as fast as they came. We are not our social personalities. Clinging to our social identity and old ways of thinking about ourselves makes us, in any case, matter less than we deserve. Artificial rules that protect selfish interests are not natural laws of life. So don’t take them so seriously!
Children are dependent on the care received from their parents and other adults in the culture they are born into. For them, inter-psychological learning, the influence of other people is unavoidable. Their survival depends on following their caregivers. Such dependencies should not exist anymore later in life, though. An adult person can re-build their own identity intra-psychologically. There is a possibility, even a necessity to recognize your socio-cultural independence. It is a trap to let others’ opinions and beliefs define one. Therefore, such an awareness allows you to free yourself from backward-related definitions of your person by others.
Losing one’s identity
When I moved abroad and ended up being on myself in a completely different culture, there was nobody and nothing anymore that would have supported and validated my identity at that time. For my new environment far away from my former social networks, jobs, and possessions that had defined me to a significant extent for a long time, too, I then was left to be just an unknown foreigner. Therefore, I could not and did not have to live up to any story anymore. What an opportunity. I’ve realized how foolish it had been to build one’s personality too much on the unstable ground of externals.
Meanwhile, having left most of the external things and values behind, there has remained one true identity-giving source: The inner self that connects all of us on a deeper human level. I’ve found this true self when mentalizing back to before I had grown into an adult body, before I was associated with a particular social status and related privileges, and before I started to hold on to a variety of achievements and acquisitions. Then, literally as an alien in a foreign country, I became aware of what was left, what will always be left, and I mentally returned to the core of whom I am: The consciousness that is all and my origin of life. For all my life, I was looking for happiness. Then I found meaning. And when I accepted meaning, happiness became meaningless. That’s when I started to really enjoy life again; joy through the effort to create awareness-intelligently an identity instead of blindly assuming one that’s tried to be assigned to me. That’s also when I better understood what it means to be an artist.
When you experience meaninglessness, low motivation, and urges to give up, it is helpful to check the extra-future element and probe its awaring, for example, as follows. Ask yourself: Am I creating in line with life, the life that continues in all human evolution beyond my family, my party, my nation, my race, etc., or do I identify with such social constructs on which can’t be hold on to in the perishable physical world? If it is the latter, feelings of meaninglessness could stem from such a misidentification. One might feel that clearly when losing somebody close when having lost a job, or being rejected from a social group. We must die to our ego during a lifetime voluntarily. As we shift from socio-cultural group identity to a universally valid life membership, we will have found our purpose in life as well. The ego cannot be overcome by disabling the mind (as sometimes advertised in meditation classes). Selflessness is achieved by thinking awareness-intelligently about the egoless self, through non-transactionality in meeting others and focusing on a mutually beneficial future in all humanity’s interest.
Achieving a symmetrical, congruent (awareness-intelligent) identity
We can clearly feel that we separate mental awareness from bodily sensations and instead picture the wholeness and infinity of life. We can change our way of thinking. The most profound, impactful, and sustainable way to change is to change the layer from where thought arises: awareness. The human condition is no longer dependent on social identity alone. It learns to integrate the three modes of the intra-past, the inter-present, and the extra-future into increased and undivided awareness (for the detailed explanation, see https://www.mathias-sager.com/tag/awareness-intelligence/). As our thoughts and actions become more symmetrical (and our business and private cards more congruent), life will never feel like a lie again.
Becoming a genuine leader is founded on mastering self-leadership and being at peace with oneself and the world. To serve as a role model, one must be ready to give up their title and position. Too dissonant can a professional identity become with the aware self. How could one ever enjoy people who admire rather their title-based authority and social status rather than knowing about their creativity, vulnerability, and loving character in the first place?
This painting is a suggestion for the symbol that could represent the novel term and concept of Awareness Intelligence™. It’s time for a new understanding of awareness, instead of maintaining old and incomplete notions of it.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said more than a hundred years ago that history should be banned from school. I agree in the sense that the common issue of glorifying the past and using it to legitimate and reinforce established power structures, for example in politics, is hindering real improvement. The world needs new solutions to old problems. A spirit-based awareness to overcome ego-based identification is needed. Rather than closing down for victories, humanity needs to open up for progress. Just because things are our culture, they are not necessarily good. Good is what increases awareness.
For the original research and related articles about Awareness Intelligence, you can visit www.mathias-sager.com
Having learned English, French, and Japanese while living and working in different cultures, and as a global citizen, psychologist, and artist, languages (words, images, and the heart) are vital for me every day. Research into the psychology of language, or psycholinguistics, has helped better understand the mental aspects of language and speech with new and innovative implications on how we approach learning from a cognitive, emotional, and behavioral level.
Language organizes thoughts
You can perceive the world with your five senses and experience feelings and emotions without words. However, Ludwig Wittgenstein claimed that “the limits of my language mean the limits of my world,” which I find accurate. What if everything is just “cool?” Reports from people losing language as a result, for example, of brain tumors, evidence that when they cannot describe the world with words anymore, it essentially remains unchanged and, for that matter, unchangeable. Grasping, developing, and changing concepts requires analysis and interpretation of reality, which is accomplished through structured language. Only through organizing one’s thoughts can we fix ideas, reflect on, and monitor them. This inner, explicitly linguistic thinking enables consciousness to become awareness (for my differentiation between consciousness and awareness, see https://www.mathias-sager.com/2021/05/02/soulfires-flames/). Unfortunately, blissful quitting of thinking in meditation or distractions seems to be more in vogue than thinking critically about one’s thinking; for me, the main challenge of humanity. Again, we may think without language, but language lets us know that we are thinking.
The language of images
There are around 7000 languages spoken in the world today. However, there are many more different languages like specialty languages (e.g., computer languages), sign languages, even smell, and the language of images and music. As an artist, I have a visual vocabulary, which sometimes is not translatable to any words that I’d know. My inner speech while painting often isn’t either in German or English, but purely of images. I love to switch to the mode where I utter thoughts with colors. As my paintings and accompanying texts illustrate, the artistic language of colors, forms, and textures is more direct, compact, shorter, and faster than the concepts described in words.
I like that my artistic language for me is more independent from socio-cultural conventions. Although language helps to connect and build communities, it is used to exclude and manipulate. For example, my daughter and I are told not to use German anymore, which constitutes a strategy of maternal gatekeeping and parental alienation. [-> I love you, Natalie! As always, this work is for you!]
The ambiguity of language
The ambiguity of language can easily cause erroneous thinking. That is probably why many of us discover that life hadn’t turned out as we were told and had planned when we were younger. For example, all the promises about happiness primarily addressing only the hedonistic aspects of the term. The same with love; are we always clear what we mean by it: romantic, affectionate, familiar, playful, or selflessly compassionate?
Any language is possibly imperfect, so we all need to find the combinations of levels of perceptions, spoken words, and expressive means that serve us well.
“Most conflicts are based on black and white thinking, the fear of devaluation, and the threat to one’s own (cultural) identity. There is one level, though, the global mindset, on which black is also white.”
I often hear that mindset is everything. This common knowledge is used in various contexts and as a ‘tool’ to reach different goals. “If you just put your mind on it, you can get it” became a standard approach in the personal development business. While it’s a good thing to have that knowledge and skill in one’s individual toolbox, I’m also interested in how humanity can achieve a mindset that brings the whole species forward as a whole. From an Awareness Intelligence perspective, my area of research and practice as a psychologist, it is about how to learn to set our minds for increased (if not maximum) true diversity and inclusiveness; something I consider to be crucial if we want to address a more peaceful world. I have written a lot (also in this collaborative) about Awareness intelligence. In terms of the topic of mindset, the concept of ‘global mindset’ possibly comes closest to what I mean.
Mindset: Where’s your attention?
At its heart, mindset is an attention-based approach to performance and for describing a global mindset, therefore, ‘international attention’ – attention to global strategic issues, attention to international beliefs and issues, can be used. How does international attention occur? In accordance with research, for example, traveling to foreign locations or discussing international issues fosters cosmopolitan thinking and behavior. I’ve experienced that during my international work and life as an expatriate in Japan. At the same time, my work as a psychologist and artist involves a high degree of a growth mindset, which might be positively influencing the development of a global mindset. For example, by expanding my horizon, I could fill in some of the blind spots of a fixed psychological map that all too often results in automatic judgment based on cultural understanding. Having a cultural identity makes people’s life easier; many do rely on cultural notions of categories of people to predict others, rather than considering people as individuals, and they favor people they consider to be members of their group. That provides for the human basic need for stability, respectively a sense of safety. in contrast, some people can overcome fear and enjoy more risky, complex, and elaborate thinking, and who are more willing to reexamine initial notions in light of new information. These are the ones who often are attracted to art, theoretical disciplines, and philosophy. But it can take them a long time to decide. Sometimes too long. Or never!
The development of intercultural sensitivity
Intercultural sensitivity is a helpful model for developing a global mindset. Intercultural sensitivity is high when one can adapt to add new behaviors to be more effective in moving in between cultures. In this model from Milton Bennet (1993), the experience of (cultural) difference is moving from more ethnocentric to more ethnorelative stages as follows:
Denial: “I don’t think there’s any other way.”
Defense: “My way is the best.”
Minimization: “What we have in common is more important.”
Adaptation: “I’m adding new behaviors to be more effective in a cross-cultural environment.”
Integration: “I can move in between cultures.”
Personal development towards a global mindset is a hard process because discrepancies between global and situational meaning cause distress. In fact, most conflict is based on the fear of invalidation, the threat of one’s (cultural) identity. A high degree of self-reflection, fearless self-questioning, and openness to commit to giving up privileges and support unity in diversity is required. In short, tremendous effort is required to reduce the distressful discrepancy between situational and global meanings.
Instructions for global information processing
Views that are limited to narrow social boundaries are inhibiting the development of social networks. Such symptoms and communicative isolation in their most extreme forms are characteristics of autism, a distinctly defined illness since the 1940s. The good news is: People lacking more global information processing can be instructed to improve. Humanity is not ill, but it definitively requires instructions on how to develop higher levels of awareness to connect sincerely with others. Interestingly, the availability of more and more global information (i.e., the Internet) did not increase the state of humanity’s global mindset. Instead of teaching how to justify current political structures, which are always local, we should educate on how to become global citizens who care for all.
A shift from cultural competence to Awareness Intelligence
Global citizenship is not a travel lifestyle, it should rather be an attitude of compassion. Multi-relational ability in the sense of Awareness Intelligence is a precondition for cross-cultural competence but goes beyond as it is culture-neutral. Any travel starts within! Cultural competence can be developed by putting one’s feet in another’s shoes. Awareness Intelligence (see also related articles on www.mathias-sager.com), however, is putting one’s consciousness in another’s soul. This will not only enable us to experience some different walks of life but to learn to qualify all of life’s souls. Real and lasting change comes from the level of mental models that enable awareness. Only if the deep-rooted individual mindsets shift towards forming a regenerated collective of deculturized societal structures, human behavioral patterns will start to change accordingly as well. That’s the utopian world of my dreams, the passion in my teachings, the goal of my art, and my deepest belief that it’s still possible; for the benefit of the individual and the common good alike.
Empathic concern •Empathic concern goes beyond simply understanding others and sharing their feelings; it actually moves us to take action, to help however we can (https://www.inc.com)
Positive Empathy (and the avoidance of antipathy) can be taught! •The main roadblock to be removed is the distraction from paying attention. Motivate yourself to be more empathetic by knowing how important empathy is to personal (private and career) and collective well-being!
Emotional hypersensitivity •Emotional hypersensitivity does even sense covered negative emotions (Rozell, E., & Scroggins, W., 2010); Overdoses of negative feelings and pain of others may be a burden for anybody exposed to it (Young, E., 2016)
Misuse of empathy •Empathy can be for the good or the bad, e.g., not only for help, but for manipulation, bullying, and exert cruelty where it harms others most (Fairbairn, 2017)
Emotional contagion •Empathy for the physical and psychological suffering of others, can spread across a team. This is a relevant phenomenon for work places to address as it can cause depression and sickness. Some organizations, therefore, introduce stress-free zones (Young, E., 2016).
Social amplification of risk •Media plays a crucial role in reminding people of threats, coalition challenges, and feelings of uncertainty, which results in increases of the proclivity for prejudices against out-group members.
Empathic imagination •Imaginative empathy is one of the great gifts that humans have and it means that we can live more than one life. We can picture what it would be like from another perspective. – Dan Chaon
A strong organizational culture helps leadership and motivation, but it risks to become too rigid and inflexible. A leader needs to balance the inflexibility of a strong organizational culture with resistance to change from a too weak organizational culture.
the need for change
A leader is analyzing and realizing that there is an unsatisfactory situation, then creates and communicates the required sense of urgency.
Behavior change can be “coerced” but it may be ineffective for positive changes of attitudes, such as solidarity and accountability.
Unfreeze, change, refreeze
People generally don’t like to unfreeze their accustomed situation. To unfreeze and change, change agents should reassure, involve, empower, support, and celebrate change.
“Men have made millions of laws to punish crimes, and they have not established even one to reward virtue” Dragonetti (1766)
Payments are not resolving the solidarity problem in a competitive and career dominated environment. Leadership based on self-awareness (e.g., servant leadership) creates a sense of increased meaning, belonging, and promotes accountability and self-leadership.
Resistance vs. apathy
Resistance might be preferable to apathy, as resistance can highlight genuine problems in proposals, and there is an energy that serves as a source of commitment from converted followers.
(Transformational) leadership needs to be fine-tuned according to cultural contexts, such as collectivism/individualism and power distance. For example, on an individual level: low power distance fosters higher emotional commitment to transformational leadership.
Material from the session on January 9th, 2019, 19:30 – 21:00 in Tokyo (at J-Global, Yaesu)
Although ‘meaning’ isn’t reducible to a state-like single factor , the meaning of a concept (i.e., work) is related to how an individual does experience the significance of a situation that causes related inferential intentions to behave in a certain way . While for many people the primary meaning of work lies in the earning of money for making a living, work provides also for values such as achievement, honor, and social relationships that determine how central the purpose of work is as compared to other life aspects like leisure, family, and community .
Economist and psychologist approach to work
The economist approach to work assumes a transactional exchange of time and effort for money. Non-financial job values have gotten limited attention by economists when examining work motivation and productivity. However, like for example, academics who have highest job security without the need to outperform, and who study beyond working hours without monetary incentives, are motivated by pure contribution to a subject, intellectual stimulation, and the satisfaction from a deliberate exchange of knowledge. Similarly, entrepreneurs enjoy the freedom of autonomous decision-making regardless of ‘pain’ put into it in the form of time and effort. Top talents have been found to prefer to work for social organizations rather than just for the best paying one .
Albeit the financialized political economy  ignores many aspects of work, such as its creative and interpersonal (social) value , the examples show that through psychological satisfaction, work can be a source of meaning beyond merely earning an income .
Cultural features of work meaning
Work creates culture, culture creates work
Culture as a guiding set of material, mental, and spiritual values that are based on a group’s experiences over time, creates meaning on how to behave and work  and, at the same time, its meaning itself is produced by work. Consequently, work should be considered a meaning-making construct of and within culture respectively as the producer and product of people’s mindset simultaneously . A culture, therefore, can be only as rich and meaningful as the work that produces it is itself.
In most Western cultures, there is today a less clear boundary between school and work life. In Japanese society though, there exists still a distinct point in time (usually beginning of April every year) that is marking the end of one’s student identity through entering the working world on full-time basis, which means to becoming a ‘shakaijin,’ i.e., a person of society/workforce . Companies use recruitment practices and regular personal assessment throughout an adult’s work life to socialize . Age-based reward and promotion systems also support this ongoing socialization process . More recently, the traditional path to adulthood and ‘companyism’ has become more diverse, and the increasing number of part-time workers and contractors is shaping a changing understanding of the transition to adulthood and work life, one that takes place rather through action than through the acquisition of the ‘shakaijin’ status .
Masculine breadwinner identity
Company respectively work-led socialization reinforces gender roles. The breadwinning role is a priority in masculine identity. After the earthquake in 2011, men’s concern in Fukushima was less related to health than to the loss of their economic situation . As in Japanese patriarchal culture, the father role is still primarily related to company job-related work, childcare duties are culturally assigned to solely to the female role (i.e., mother or grandmother), which provides a widespread potential for work-family conflicts. Shared family and work-related commitments, however, begin to be seen as essential to improve self-worthiness and a sense of meaningfulness in life . Men who don’t exhibit a regular full-time job are more likely to marry late. Also, males with non-standard jobs have the lowest chance of getting children, an effect that is prevalent in Japan, but not in the US, for example .
Given the importance of work as a provider of status, identity, and meaning, it is understandable that Japanese commit with a lot of grit to it . Over time, Japan’s values align more closely with global trends insofar as there is a great emphasis on the economic function of work as well . Will that be enough meaning to engage the next generations of employees as well? Research is showing that lack of meaning at work is reducing work volition and work-related well-being significantly .
Economy of dignity and respect
A further question is how much a collectivist society may be able to reduce the dependency on others and society overall because over-dependency on the meaning of work risks to hamper dignity. The individual capacity to understand and position oneself as a fully recognized societal participant is vital to the notion of dignity as sourced from within. It is to hope that companies and society, not only in Japan, help to create dignity by de-stigmatizing of traditional personhood markers such as employment type and gender roles . It’s maybe such a shift from status-focus to an action-focus orientation that also explains the changing meaning of ‘sonkei’ (Japanese for respect). Formal respect (e.g., towards age-based status) is increasingly recognized as a moral duty rather than an emotion built on genuine love and admiration .
Benefits from meaningful work
The benefit of employees perceiving their work as meaningful come as experiences of greater happiness, job satisfaction, team spirit, and commitment (; ), thus reducing turnover rates and long-term sickness absences. This is because of the positive emotional bondage to the workplace that is an end in itself; a characteristic also called intrinsic motivation . A greater sense of meaning in one’s work can be protective of burnout . Eudaimonia is a term describing the sort of well-being that comes from living an engaging, meaningful, and fulfilling life . Such a spirit at the workplace can be fostered by letting employees feel they contribute to something more significant in connection to a common connection and purpose .
Performance and physical health
Work meaning is also closely linked to better outcomes, such as increased income, quality of work, and job satisfaction . Finally, a sense of purpose and sense of socially embedded growth in and from work (i.e., eudaimonic, meaning-based well-being versus hedonic, pleasure-based job-satisfaction ) was found to be associated with positive health outcomes, for example, by the means of supporting one’s physical resistance against adversities like inflammation or viral infection . The Japanese type of stress-death, the so-called ‘karoushi’ (death from overwork) cannot be seen as a physiological phenomenon only. Rather death is caused by a vicious cycle of depressive feelings, and states of helplessness and unescapable despair combined with overwork .
Fostering meaning at work
A culture of mentorship and nostalgia
For a long time, job satisfaction research has been focused on an organizational perspective without sufficiently considering the role of the job on family, the standard of living, personal development, and on a worker’s larger worldview . It is crucial to understand better situational contexts in which meaning ensues. Researchers found that the highest levels of meaning arise during spiritual practices and work hours, especially when performing social job components such as talking to people. As a general pattern, meaning occurs most during states of increased awareness . An organizational listening climate may facilitate such an awareness , and acting as a self-reflective mentor might be a useful avenue of experiencing meaning at work . Indeed, studies among nursing practices from different countries (e.g., Canada, India, Ireland, Japan, and Korea) confirm that leaders and a culture of mentorship are important for fostering meaning of work for both mentors and the mentees . Also, the induction of nostalgia (i.e., remembering sentimental events from the past) can be used to meet employees longing for wistful affection to the past and may increase an employee’s perception of the meaningfulness of his/her organizational life and therefore the attachment to it .
The need for humanizing the economy
The hope that unfulfilling, unsatisfying, and even health and life-threatening mental stress at work will improve may be overshadowed by the continuing centrality of profit margins and efficiency in corporations. Neo-liberal development in Japan has shaken the traditions of secure long-term employment and a state responsible for citizens welfare. While the need for meaning at the workplace implies rather a humanization of the economy and society, capitalist marketization of everything is continuing. Corporate managers continue to exploit deregulated labor and capital and maintain insecurity and growing competition among workers. . While rhetoric is sometimes trying to convince otherwise, understandably in the light of how grim the reality reveals, capitalism’s ultimate sense is about capital rather than humanity. In case of conflict, business goals come before anything else. Regardless of how meaningful employees perceive their job, no CEO is considered unsuccessful when driving profits within legal constraints and without caring especially about humanistically meaningful jobs. It’s, therefore, as an example, a non-surprising and common observation that such managers only after their retirement turn to a more dedicated anthropological role of contributing to society.
Meaning determines moral and ethical intentions and behavior
It seems that people need to find answers from within because the treadmill of the pursuit of consumption, pleasure, and economic success from work won’t fulfill the potential of greater meaning at work in many cases, regardless of how comfortable or tough the circumstances. It is each and everyone’s responsibility to fill the void of meaning through their sacred awareness, philosophy, and artful approach to put it into practice. And it is critical that we help others to do so too. The meaning of work should be considered simultaneously from an individual, organizational, and societal perspective, considering its psychological function for everyone. Meaning is the basis on which intentions ensue and according actions follow . Consequently, claiming peaceful fulfillment in one’s work is an essential part of and prerequisite for moral and ethical behavior towards oneself and others alike.
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Advancing globalization requires new workplace competencies . Among Global Talent Managers, there is the sobering realization that people working in an increasingly global environment find themselves challenged in acquiring the necessary cultural agility  In today’s world Global talent management, mobility, and cultural agility belong together . “Bridging the global skills gap” through international assignments was rated as a priority for more than 1,200 globally surveyed CEO’s (. p. 19).
The term “cultural agility” was already used before as, for example, by Freedman (2003) who saw cultural agility to be needed in teams working around the world . In Caligiuri’s (2012) book, the same is more specifically defined as a mega “Mega-competency that enables professionals to perform successfully in cross-cultural situations . . . [it is] a combination of natural abilities, motivation to succeed, guided training, coaching, and development over time” ( pp. 4–5). In Caligiuri’s work, one can find a later leaner version that goes as follows: “Cultural agility is the ability to quickly, comfortably and effectively work in different cultures and with people from different cultures” . Other researchers accepted cultural agility to play a role in cross-cultural professional contexts .
As per the analysis of Gibbs and Boyraz (2015), cultural intelligence (CQ), global mindset, and cultural agility are sometimes used interchangeably, and most scholars might agree that these concepts are in minimum inter-related . In the form the cultural agility mega-competency is broken down into four categories that are behavioral, psychological, cross-cultural interactions and decisions, and comprising of a dozen more specific components, cultural agility seems to contain all that is needed to perform successfully in cross-cultural settings . The so-called “jangle fallacy” (Kelley, 1927, as cited in Brenneman, Klafehn, Burrus, Roberts, & Kochert, 2016) exists when a construct is conceptualized differently and, therefore, also named otherwise . This is roughly what was found when analyzing four frameworks related to the field of cross-cultural competency (C3) . A generally agreed-upon definition of C3 is that it is the “knowledge, skills, and affect/motivation that enable individuals to adapt effectively in cross-cultural environments” .
Multinational enterprises (MNEs) today often use the term “cultural agility” to describe their expectations regarding employees’ “flexibility.” The ability to adapt culturally intelligent to local situations, from such a usage perspective, addresses the need to be responsive in a global marketplace . Cognitive complexity refers to the ability to switch between distinct cultural demands  and strikingly illustrates how agility suggests “movement” as an organizing principle . “Cultural adaptiveness” in that sense is only one out of three possible “responding moves” that define cultural agility. The second is “cultural minimization” that is required from an employee when putting a supervisor’s command above a cultural norm, and third, there is “cultural integration” that is the consideration of concurrent cultures as, for example, in a multi-cultural team .
Some authors also distinguish cultural learning and cultural agility as two aspects of 3C (; ), matching the discrimination between “understanding about” and “knowing to use knowledge” as pointed to in Hounsell (2016) . It is the notion of cultural agility that is meant to be required to integrate cultural inclusion respectively to use the knowledge of inclusion to manifest it in a behavior that is producing inclusive organizational results . Therefore, for the further course of this systematic review, the following short definition is used: Cultural agility is “related to the ability … to use your cross-cultural learning effectively” . Training and development are significant for International Human Resources Management (IHRM) . The question to be investigated by this research aims to shed light on how much focus exists in the literature on the “usage” aspect of cultural knowledge. A systematic review shall provide for the answer by analyzing the relative emphasis put on training (i.e., specific knowledge/skills acquisition) as compared to development (i.e., a longer-term gathering of experiences and lessons learned as applicable fur improved cultural agility). Furthermore, developmental approaches shall be studied and reported to potentially support GTM practices in their challenge to extend their repertoire of available approaches and measures.
For Methodology and Results details, see Appendix A.
Similar to this systematic review’s finding that only 20% of the analyzed articles did specify cultural agility in connection with training and development, others found that only one out of four companies do assess cultural intelligence or agility in their international assignment candidates . Although in Lundby and Caligiuri’s (2013) survey cultural agility was rated as the third most important senior leader quality, the results of this review tendentially lean to support existing gaps in delivering brand success in GTM and a related need for not only training technical skills but developing cultural agility competencies , . Foreign culture on-site programs like the Cultural Agility Leadership Lab (CALL)  may be effective solutions to narrow the gap. Interactional experiences with peers from other cultures seem to be an effective path to develop cultural agility .
Implications and future research
The findings and discussion in this article imply that experiential development opportunities should be sought by GTM practices to supplement a learning system towards increased effectiveness in developing cultural agility . A stronger link between organizations GTM function and their international assignee selection should be established. Psychological measures like the Cultural Agility Climate Index (CACI) could be used to support candidate and assignment effectiveness assessments . Measuring the current state would provide for the basis justifying the sustainable investment into cultural agility competencies . Watson (2014) found that diversity and inclusiveness training is standard practice, while the long-term building of cultural agility was found to be a less usual investment .
A facet of cultural agility this study came across too is the motivational component of the construct. While “willingness” had been included already in earlier conceptualizations of cultural agility , the term “agility” does not naturally imply such a component. Interestingly, Caligiuri, Baytalskaya, and Lazarova (2016) came later up with a construct of “cultural humility” and found evidence for its effectiveness in enhancing leadership skills, performance, and engagement . It would be interesting to see how the concepts of cultural agility and cultural humility could be integrated as some scholars still see cultural agility and the will for cultural adaptation as complementary rather than inclusive concepts .
More research should have been done to evaluate the precision of the use of the terms “training” and “development” in the analysis of this systematic review. It can be that the inclusion of synonyms or the more in-depth study and interpretation of the literature analyzed would have led to different results. Also, relying on Google scholar search and only processing around 30% of the results does not represent an as complete study as possible. Also, the result interpretation may be biased as it was not benchmarked against any further industry standards than mentioned in the article.
This study identifies components and evaluates the focus on training and development in the cultural agility literature. This paper found introductory that cultural agility potentially surpasses the scope of cross-cultural competency (C3) as it entails a behaviorally consequential nature that makes it especially practical for GTM considerations . On the other side, possible motivational aspects of cultural agility need to be further clarified.
In any case, for various sectors in a continuously globalizing world, the development of cultural agility through experiential means such as mobility programs  could gain even more popularity as a promising success factor for MNEs’ search and development of talents.
This study assumed a descriptive, quantitative analysis-based approach of a systematic literature review. Systematic reviews help the creation of a scientifically derived summary of available evidence . It is not known to the author of this review that another study did systematically review the research question related to training and development focus on promoting cultural agility.
The systematic review as designed in this article first selected from the University of Liverpool (UOL) discovery database books, e-journals, and theses with the search term “cultural agility.” Second, the Google Scholar search widget on the same (UOL) portal with the same search term was used to retrieve more documents. The UOL discovery database search found 13 documents published in 2012 or later, whose checking resulted in the exclusion of 2 irrelevant and one non-accessible (commercially protected) file, leaving 11 documents for analysis. The Google Scholar search found 424 results, of which 130 were books, e-articles, or theses. Out of the 130, 63 sources were accessible for download. The check for the inclusion criteria of equal or higher than the year 2012 further reduced the population to 47 documents that have been downloaded then and analyzed. The publication date 2012 as an inclusion criterion seemed appropriate considering this is the year of the publication of Paula Caligiuri’s book “Cultural Agility: Building a Pipeline of Successful Global Professionals.”
Data extraction and analysis
The analysis of the available documents included an in-document search for “agility” and “agile” to get to the section where a potential definition or description of cultural agility could be found; the according passages have been examined and studied for finding answers to the research question. In this process, additional 8 documents have been excluded due to irrelevance. The total number of included texts, therefore, was 50 and represents a significant amount of relevant and recent data sources across a broad range of scientific journals and other scholarly resources. The analysis report table documents copied text snippets from pertinent passages of the analyzed files. Due to space limitations, these were kept rather short without providing much further context.
Among the 50 documents derived from the databases and Google Scholar, nine were found to contain a mentioning or elaboration related to “training,” and six instances were found that include developmental aspects. Consequently, only 32% of the analyzed document did prominently refer to training and development in their section about cultural agility. A simultaneous presence of “training” and “development” appeared in five papers. In table 1, the 11 reportable results are outlined. The results indicate that more research articles do mention “training” as compared to “development” with regards to the concept of cultural agility. A couple of interesting operationalizations of cultural agility development were found as will be shown in the discussion section.
Table 1. Training and development in cultural agility related articles
Mukerjee (2014). As universities become increasingly global in their reach and operations, cultural agility is likely to be a competency that will be sought after and reflected in the recruitment, training and development processes 
Dinwoodie, Quinn, and McGuire (2014) Strategic Drivers for Leadership for expansion into international markets: Cultural agility—promote the predisposition to appreciate diversity and develop cultural intelligence to operate successfully in unfamiliar territories. 
Gibbs and Boyraz (2015) These concepts – cultural intelligence, global mindset and cultural agility – have each been extensively studied in terms of leadership, but they have yet to be applied to team level processes. For instance, Caligiuri (2012) regards cultural agility as a necessary skill of global business professionals. These professionals are usually CEOs and top managers responsible for more strategic organizational functions, who generally get more customized training, coaching, and development, rather than lower level virtual team members. / Attracting global team leaders and team members with the important skills needed to manage cultural diversity – cultural agility, global mindset, and CQ – is an issue with significant implications for IHRM, not only for training and development but also for selection of team members. 
Hounsell (2016). The development in students of a global outlook or global mindset generally focuses on the internationalisation of curriculum content within and across disciplines or subject areas. The knowledge gained takes two main forms. The first is a fuller understanding about other nations and cultures, or the use of knowledge and perspectives derived in or from other nations and cultures, leading to what has sometimes been called ‘cultural versatility’ or ‘cultural agility’. In HKU’s overarching goals for four-year degrees, this is referred to as intercultural understanding. 
Vega (2012). The creation of an informative guide that addressed cultural agility in emergency medicine would benefit both the EMS and Vietnamese-American communities. 
 Honnor (2013). Explains how the learning and development function at Infosys supports its global activities by developing competences that offer the organization global and cultural agility.
Synoground (2013). Cross-Cultural Competency (C3) has surfaced as the term to describe cultural ability and adaptability in personnel. Cultural Agility, a term coined by Dr. Paula Caligiuri, is used here to describe a degree of talent that surpasses C3. Using these concepts as a framework, the analysis herein will make suggestions designed to improve cross-cultural talent recognition and recruiting practices and introduce a potential training paradigm to fit the traditional GPF and SOF/IW framework of the services. 
McKinley (2016). Internationalizing the curriculum: explicitly pugng in assessments or program requirements that relate to cultural agility 
Jameson and Goshit (2017). program participants (domestic and international) to develop the intercultural skills, knowledge, and mindsets to communicate effectively across cultural boundaries. For the IPDF this typically includes cultural agility, open mindedness, respect, patience, empathy, leadership, an understanding of intercultural communication styles, willingness to step out of one’s comfort zone, as well as a basic understand- ing of the impact of power and privilege. 
Martin and Zhang (2017). The main goal of the course is to further students’ understanding and knowledge of education and business leaders’ best practices and how they can apply these best practices to their current career, as well as their future career within the education arena. The course objectives are consistent for both the domestic and international trips and are as follows: – Researching emerging global paradigms, best practices, and structures in education and business. – Analyzing international assessment measures -implement, understand drivers, improvement. – Building learning partnerships with global school and business leaders. – Increasing students’ global awareness, perspectives, and cultural agility. – Understanding the transferability of global educational and business systems. – Understanding the external environmental impact on education and business. 
Pace, A. (2012). After detailing each of these competencies, Caligiuri shares how readers can attract, recruit, assess, select, train, and develop culturally agile employees. / As far as workplace learning and development, Caligiuri notes: “A learning system to develop cultural agility needs to include two parts, cross-cultural training and experiential development opportunities.” 
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Equitable treatment to maintain willingness to cooperate
Cooperative behavior arises where it is cherished
Women are often considered to have a greater tendency to use their cooperativeness for successful international assignments, especially where indirect communication is the culturally appropriate style as is tendentially the case in high-context cultures like Asia . Cooperative and communicative qualities (versus more competitive ones) have been attributed to woman stereotypically. Research shows that cooperativeness depends a lot on the environment respectively the organization wherein it is more or less cherished.
Cooperative conflict management
Cooperative approaches to conflict exert positive effects on the relationship between employee and foreign manager, as a study also confirmed for the Chinese context . As Western methods can create confrontations in transition economies, conflicting values and practices need to be resolved between different partners .
Means to promote cooperation
Different cultures should be recognized as different. A local-foreign social categorization can underline who needs help and who can provide the same . There are other influenceable means to promote cooperation too. For example, cooperative goals for leaders aid cross-cultural leadership . Focusing on long-term relationships and cooperation contributes to beneficial expatriate experiences . Soft-skills-centric relationships (i.e., guanxi relationships in the East) result in an environment conducive to cooperative and positive interdependencies between coworkers .
Equitable treatment to maintain willingness to cooperate
If expatriates get advantaged, domestic employees might perceive inequitable treatment, which might impair their motivation, willingness to cooperate, and work performance; something HR and Global Talent Management (GTM) functions of multinational enterprises (MNEs) need to be aware of too .
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The advantage of Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL)
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and the interpretation of language
Overcoming barriers beyond the language barrier
Language barrier in health care
A lot of literature seems to focus the challenges of language barriers in the health sector, as, for example, studies that identify language barrier as a significant threat to care quality in hospitals . The adverse effects are related to the various health service processes, such as understanding, quality, and patient and provider satisfaction . In multinational corporations (MNC), non-native speakers were found to tend to communicative withdrawal that is negatively influencing content and relationships . Social isolation subsequently can lead to reinforcing the language and culture boundaries .
The advantage of Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL)
The advantages from bilingualism are manifold; being an asset for (academic) career is one of them . Mobility and employability are further evidenced examples that can be achieved, e.g., by content and language integrated learning (CLIL) to foster not only language, but also communication and interaction skills combined with intercultural awareness . Indeed, it seems that hands-on activities and collaborative communication role-playing , or patient-centeredness, to use a health example again , even if supported by the native foreign language, are effective in overcoming language barriers . Allowing silence to support communication processing should not be forgotten too . Importantly, all begins with the proper identification of the existence of a language barrier at all . An innovative medical dictionary and tracking application is facilitating the imperative language-related data collection of foreign clients .
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and the interpretation of language
For the future it is predicted that so-called SATS (Synchronous Automated Translation Systems) or even reality augmenting wearables will take out the hassle of today’s still cumbersome translation applications such as Google . Regarding the use of information and communication technology (ICT) to facilitate translation, women displayed a lower rate of technology use compared to their male colleagues . For technology to be adopted by foreign-speaking users, aids and guides should be developed  and diverse learning backgrounds supported. Barriers can also arise due to cultural differences in learning and conceptualization styles. Also, especially in rural context, it should be evaluated whether ICT even contributes to increased awareness of separation with the rest of the world . The presence of organizational codes and trade zones are examples of sub-cultures that can additionally make the interpretation of communication difficult .
Overcoming barriers beyond the language barrier
The progress in removing language barriers is for sure a great vision. However, in communication-intensive fields like social sciences (as compared to, e.g., technical engineering) , success will require more innovation. From the money-making industries relying on translation and interpretation services, some hesitance in adopting new business models might be expected. Finally, the maintenance of national borders may also use language to protect delimitations .
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Prizing of social capital on individual, institutional, and societal levels
The ‘paradox of unsocial sociabilities’
Global citizenship, international careers, and the culture of global nomadism
Matching national and organizational culture
According to Nahapiet & Ghoshal (1998), social capital is “the sum of the actual and potential resources embedded within, available through, and derived from relationships” (as cited in ). However, it is not enough to design global leadership development programs with the goal to share knowledge according to national cultures in multinational enterprises (MNEs) without carefully making sure that the program also matches the organizational cultures involved (Espedal, Gooderham, & Stensaker, 2013).
Prizing of social capital on individual, institutional, and societal level
How the built social capital is prized depends on context. For example, Singaporean bureaucratic and political elite prizes social and cultural capital from the US, UK, and Western Europe highly as a result of Singapore’s unique history . In academia, it is known that the apt use of researchers’ social capital in the form of international research networks helps significantly in achieving excellence . On the other hand, global mobility experiences that come with a personal value such as new perspectives and knowledge about different cultures and systems can be not valuated as social or cultural capital by the home environment and therefore doesn’t get utilized by the respective institutions and organization . There can be even biases on individual, organizational, and societal level because of strong interpersonal and intergroup processes preventing non-discriminatory perceptions of the intercultural aspects they are confronted with .
The ‘paradox of unsocial sociabilities’
The ‘paradox of unsocial sociabilities’ describes the behavior of individuals who aspire to grow their professional global connectivity but remain emotionally relatively uninvolved locally . In the case of expatriates, they can be conflicted between resistance and acceptance of the new culture as part of incorporation its possibilities within themselves . For people from collectivist cultures, the loss of their societal embeddedness might not be felt as compensated  by the newly gained increase of social capital from a global perspective. Money can replace social capital in the sense that knowledge transactions can be bought anywhere (e.g., banking, legal, and medical services, etc.), independent of location .
Global citizenship, international careers, and the culture of global nomadism
Social capital networks reinforce themselves  and education, financial means, and access to information and communication technology determine to what level talent can be optimized  . To get access to global social capital, globalized forms of education to foster global citizenship is recommended by the UN . Often international assignments don’t necessarily lead to returns home and can result in onward mobility and international careers within a community, which shares a culture of global nomadism  that is of horizontal multi-cultural nature . The alignment of an individual’s lifetime stages and an organization’s strategic direction can be helped through a mentoring, mutual help in storying and career/goal alignment that is managed by a well-integrated Talent and HR Management practice .
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Summary. The increasing number of expatriates reflects the need for multinational enterprises (MNEs) to compete in a global knowledge economy. Despite high pressure, mobility program cost management practices are often weakly formalized. To take full advantage of international assignments, the assignees’ gained knowledge should be matched with required job competencies. The ratio of parent-country nationals (PCNs) at subsidiaries is influencing business performance. Also, besides defensive and retaliatory actions, relational measures can be used to maintain access to social capital in case of poaching in the host country. Finally, intercultural training based on clearly defined goals for business and leadership development purposes can increase the success rate of international assignment significantly.
Over 200 million extra-national employees worldwide
The number of employees assigned to foreign countries in 2013 was 214 million people, tendency increasing . This article focuses in places on a multinational enterprises (MNEs) setting of interdisciplinary digital businesses from a Japan perspective (with global reach) that is heavily relying on knowledge and relationship-based intangible data assets.
Room to evolve in aligning the role of mobility with talent management
The information technology industry continues to be a growing sector with fierce competition and cost pressures . While almost half of IT companies do not systematically measure international assignment costs, companies respond sensitively to cost factors. For example, as a reaction to surging residence costs for expatriates, Japanese companies in 2014 sent 10,000 employees less to China than still in 2012 when the number was at 57,000 . Also, an international assignee attrition rate that could be problematic for a company when too high seems to exist in the IT sector, with survey results reporting a 25% of assignee loss as compared to overall survey respondents’ average of 14%. Generally, assignee’s increase market value serves as an explanation for their moving on to better career opportunities outside of the firm. The Japanese tenure- rather than market-value-based employment system  could mitigate that risk though. On the other hand, some Japanese expats may not return due to concerns with too much discriminating, rigorous, and long working hours required in the Japanese working world, as a popular Japanese blog suggests . In any case, to mutually benefit from mobility programs, both the employee and the firm should be able to count on HR’s ability to match the expatriate’s knowledge with job’s required competencies . Furuya (2007) suggested the deliberate and proactive use of appropriate HR policies and practices (e.g., job analysis) that help realize the advantages of global assignments . Indeed, successful mobility has become a barrier for Japanese MNEs; yet formal programs are rarely in place .
One out of five Global Mobility Trends IT sector survey participants responded that they do not know their business need for internationally experienced talents . Not enough parent country nationals (PCNs) at subsidiaries is curbing business performance; too many PCNs, however, let performance decline due to increasing resistance against loss of local identity . The APAC region’s (IT) companies see Brazil and second, Taiwan as their favorite destinations for foreign assignments beyond 2015 . From a host country’s perspective, e.g., Taiwanese firms seek Japanese employees’ knowledge  and increasingly poach Japanese workers . For MNEs, relational actions such as alumni to keep access to human social capital might be an additional alternative to overly defensive or punitive measures .
Need for intercultural training
20% of international assignees reported difficulties in acclimating to the new culture. Also, people from strong cultures like China and Japan tend to stick with their compatriots . Therefore, intercultural training  and/or timely termination (in case of issues) of expatriate projects are crucial to avoid relational damage . Also, separate but integral goals and strategies for business and talent development should be defined in Japanese MNEs mobility programs . Sufficient language proficiency has to be fostered too to enable an efficient knowledge transfer .
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Strength-based approaches to fostering “female” leadership styles
Humanitarian principles and global egalitarian mindset
The case for gender equality
Although women represent half of the population in education and global workforce at career start and mid-level management, men outnumber women in all sectors’ leadership positions. The role of female talents in future leadership is a critical challenge  for the growth of economies . A study among a big sample across 26 countries found that work-life balance, commitment, and turnover thoughts are related to perceived job autonomy that is, for women, mediated by present gender egalitarianism .
Prestige economies and cultural tightness
Prestige governs economies, causing countries with high expenditure in research and development to have comparatively fewer female members (e.g., Japan with 11.6% female researchers, and only 9.7% professors), while low-expenditure nations (e.g., the Philippines and Thailand employ female researchers beyond 45%) . To stay with the example of Japan, nations with similar challenges related to vocational stereotypes, job availability constraints, traditional bias and a collective mindset, even when not having as much government promotion of female employment as Japan, tend to have fewer women in corporate executive positions. Roibu and Roibu (2017) ascribe this to the strictness of how social and work rules are enforced . Indeed, cultural tightness, i.e., the fierceness of norms, contributes to explaining why some organizations in some countries are less successful in advocating women leadership than others . However, the finding of male domination in higher leadership positions seems to be more generally a phenomenon somewhat independent of nationality, culture, and even legislation for gender equality .
Functional literacy and inclusiveness
Fast technological change can negatively pronounce skill deterioration during work interruption, such as caused by maternity leave . Also, education needs to be carefully analyzed regarding whether it is suited to improve social inclusion or whether, in contrast, aggravates competitive exclusivity . For example, functional literacy programs shouldn’t be designed as a reading and writing capability only, but as emancipatory enablers that integrate reading, writing, and socio-economic and political understanding for democratic participation and the self-efficient creation of social networks and wealth .
Strength-based approaches to fostering “female” leadership styles
Some woman may be more sold on power-promising, rewarding, and recognizing careers  and learn how to play the neo-liberal corporate game. Many, on the other hand, do also keep a philanthropic attitude that might not be come to success in an economy that rewards competition . Leadership styles are evolving though, and the value of emotional intelligence is bringing female leaders, albeit slowly, into pole positions . Strength-based approaches to talent development can help also preserving gender-specific genuineness throughout personal careers .
Humanitarian principles and global “female” mindset
The human species can change its mindset, and a female leadership style based on humanitarian principles might be precisely the fit for an increasingly globalized and cooperating world . Millennial women are expected to have a high interest to play a global role . Already existing transnational women’s movements  may additionally help to boost self-esteem to create more egalitarian local and global environments.
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