Publication Date

2000

Abstract

For over twenty years, the Skills Training Program of Action for Boston Community Development, Inc. has provided training and job placement to immigrants from diverse backgrounds in the private sector, primarily in the financial service industry in Boston, Massachusetts. While some trainees are fortunate to retain employment, some others encounter the discouraging or even devastating experience of losing their jobs. In the pursuit of identifying crucial factors that contribute to the loss of jobs of immigrant graduates of the Skills Training Program, the author researched one question: "Do immigrants who retain their jobs differ in their intercultural communication competence than those who do not retain their jobs?" The author adopted a qualitative research approach to interview four immigrant graduates who successfully retained their jobs and four others who lost their jobs within the first week of their employment. In addition, the author endeavored to interview the original supervisors of these immigrants to shed more light on the question. The graduates were selected from different cultural backgrounds under the premise that they were willing to share their experiences openly. Using Linda Anderson's cross-cultural adaptation model and other researchers' findings on the impact of certain intercultural communication competencies on job performance, the author analyzed the behavioral, cognitive and affective conditions of the interviewees. A conclusion is reached that the two groups of interviewees exhibited significant differences in their intercultural communication competencies. This conclusion bears significant meaning for the author's Skills Training Program and for all other programs aimed at facilitating immigrants' transition into the US corporate culture. The findings can also benefit the current Welfare-to-Work programs, which aim at training welfare recipients for entry-level positions in such service industries as retail, banking, hotel and nursing. The findings provide strong evidence for intercultural communication to be included in all training program curricula to yield desired job retention rates for immigrants and welfare recipients in their transition into the corporate world of the United States.

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