Abstract

This study examined host country nationals (HCNs) in multinational enterprises (MNEs) through the lens of a competency approach. Participants consisted of 500 managers working for a leading Japanese retail MNE, with 100 each from Japan, China, Malaysia, Thailand, and Hong Kong. The study highlighted three competency variables of those managers for 12 skills: the level of competency demands; that of competencies; and that of adaptation as assessed by the fit between the levels of competencies and the levels of corresponding competency demands. Several similarities and differences in the competency variables of the HCN managers emerged. For example, relationship skills were the most demanded competency for all HCN managers as well as the most developed competency for all manager groups except the Thai. Further, goal-setting skills, while highly demanded, showed low adaptation levels for all groups. The strength of the levels of the three competency variables, however, differed significantly among groups. Based on the empirical evidence obtained from this study, practical implications for HR professionals were discussed.