Exploring the impact of culture on training transfer in Ghana
Attipoe, Hope M.
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In the era of globalization, transferring training and knowledge across global boundaries is necessary as it gives competitive advantage to organizations, especially multinational corporations (MNCs) as they operate across national borders. As they compete in a complex global context, the efficiency of their core human resource capital may be critical to their success and survival. However, the transfer of Western-based training to the indigenous/local context; in this case Ghana is bound to encounter potential transfer hindrances due to the cultural and contextual differences. The aim of this qualitative study was to interview Ghanaian trainees who completed training in a Western country, to explore how perceived cultural and contextual factors impact their capability to transfer newly acquired knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) to the Ghanaian context; and how these perceived barriers can be overcome to enhance training transfer. The findings from this study indicated that substantial cultural and contextual issues exist in Ghana as well as in the transfer organization that impact the transfer of training to this context. These cultural factors include, but not limited to, an asymmetric power relations (imbalance of power) between those in leadership positions and subordinates, extraordinary emphasis on hierarchy, high level of respect for age, seniority, die hard attitudes and mindsets, resistance to change attitudes, and extended family system; as well as the view of the organization as an extension of the family. These cultural beliefs and practices are deeply ingrained in the Ghanaian context and are part and parcel of the local lifestyles transcending from homes to businesses. Three overarching conclusions were drawn from these findings. The first conclusion is that: power distance permeates organizational life whether through hierarchy or asymmetrical power relationships, or age differences, and these must be addressed to facilitate the transfer of what is learned from training. The second conclusion drawn is that national culture constrains or outweighs organizational culture, however there are some nuances and exceptions. The findings support Adler and Gundersen (2007), Hofstede (2001), and Johns (2006) conclusions that national culture constrains and/or outweighs organizational culture. A third conclusion that may be drawn is that transfer of training in Ghana is subject to the same undercurrents of any other organizational change, and is significantly impacted by the degree of change required by the organization, by those in positions of power and how they manage and use their power, and by the resources available to support implementation of change.