Is the U.S. really one country or fifty different countries? In some respects, while there is certainly a national culture, there are many different micro-cultures happening within the USA too.
In a post last year (Considering the U.S. as an international expat destination) we discussed that part of the challenge could be that the United States is a massive country that is regionalized from a cultural perspective. The map in that article showed the U.S. really with 11 separate 'nations' with entirely different cultures. These 11 sub-nations impact the expat experience and make cities across the country very different from one another. The first idea of these 11 sub-nations were proposed in a book entitled, "American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America," by Colin Woodard. The book explains that North America was settled by people with distinct religious, political and ethnographic characteristics, creating regional cultures that have been at odds with one another ever since.
While remaining a top foreign destination, moving talent into the United States can be challenging in many different ways. One of those ways is that an expat and family have to understand and grapple with a new national culture, along with the nuances of a regional, state and local culture of which they are now a member.
Many of the tools that are provided to U.S. inbound international assignees are limited in this respect. Cultural readiness and successful assimilation are key steps to becoming an engaged employee in the host location. "Standard cultural training programs for assignees coming to the U.S. are not always effective because they focus on the broad stereotypes and generalizations of the U.S. culture. They may not include the specific region, city and town culture the assignee is going to nor incorporate the corporate culture of the employer from the local perspective."
A better understanding of the nuances of local culture (sub-cultural coaching) is one area to consider improving if you are targeting a higher ROI for expats on assignment.
Regardless of the US destination, each city and town within each state reflects not only the broad national culture but also a unique local culture and, often, many subcultures that define the composite melting pot on which the American culture is based.The complexities of the great American landscape and the cultural diversity that is evident everywhere in this country can be challenge when preparing for one’s international assignment here, from both a professional and personal perspective.