Antecedents and outcomes of expatriate adjustment - The influence of motivation and acculturation attitude on adjustment and performance

Diploma Thesis, 2006

70 Pages, Grade: 1,7





2.1. The concept of Adjustment
2.2. The concept of Motivation
2.3. The concept of Acculturation

3.1 Adjustment and Strain
3.2. Spouse adjustment
3.3. The concept of performance
3.4. Performance and Strain
3.5. Adjustment and performance

4.1 Sample and data collection
4.2 Measures
4.2.1 Motivation
4.2.2 Acculturation attitude
4.2.3 Adjustment
4.2.4 Performance
4.2.5 Intention to leave
4.2.6 Strain
4.2.7 Control variables
4.3 Analyses

5. Results
5.1. Descriptive results
5.2 Motivation and Mainstream culture orientation (Hypothesis 1)
5.3. Mainstream culture orientation and adjustment (Hypothesis 2)
5.4. Acculturation types and adjustment (Hypothesis 3)
5.5. Adjustment and strain (Hypothesis 4)
5.6. Adjustment, strain and performance (Hypothesis 5)
5.7. Strain, spouse adjustment and intention to leave the IA prematurely (H6)

6. Discussion
6.1. General Discussion
Acculturation attitude and adjustment
Adjustment and strain
Adjustment, strain and performance
Intention to leave
Language ability
6.2. Limitations
6.3. Practical implications
6.4. Further research
6.5. Conclusion


Index of abbreviations

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Table index

Table 1a Demographic characteristics of the participants

Table 1b Work background of the participants

Table 2 Scales and scale-characteristics of the questionnaires

Table 3a Correlation matrix of all scales - Part 1

Table 3b Correlation matrix of all scales - Part 2

Table 3c Correlation matrix of all scales - Part 3

Table 4 Results of Hierarchical Regression Analyses between intrinsic and extrinsic

motivation and mainstream culture orientation

Table 5 Results of Hierarchical Regression Analyses between mainstream culture

orientation and general, interaction and work adjustment

Table 6 Means and standard deviations for covariance analysis

Table 7 Hierarchical regression for adjustement and strain

Table 8 Results of Hierarchical Regression Analyses for adjustment, strain and


Table 9 Results of Hierarchical Regression for Intention to leave

Figure index

Figure 1 Model of the Study

Figure 2 Revised bi-dimensional model of acculturation strategies

Figure 3 Model inclusive hypotheses


This study investigates the antecedents and outcomes of expatriate adjustment on international assignment (IA). 47 expatriates, 25 spouses and 31 supervisors / co-workers assigned to five different countries participated in this survey. In the first part of the study the influence of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation to accept an IA on the acculturation attitude is investigated, and the effects of the acculturation attitude on general, interaction, and work adjustment are examined. Intrinsic motivation is positively related to mainstream culture orientation. Mainstream culture orientation is in turn related to interaction adjustment, but not to general and work adjustment.

The second part of the study explores the influence of expatriate adjustment on strain, task, contextual and adaptive performance and the intention to leave the assignment prematurely. General adjustment was negatively related to strain, while work and spouse adjustment showed a positive relationship to strain. Interaction adjustment was not significantly related to strain. This study found that expatriate and spouse adjustment were not significantly related to any of the three facets of performance. Spouse adjustment and strain were both related to the intention to leave the assignment prematurely.


The opening of new market opportunities and challenges for corporations in the past years have resulted in steadily increasing interconnections between countries and culture (House, Hanges, Javidan, Dorfman, & Gupta, 2004; Stroh, Dennis, & Cramer, 1994). With the increasing intercultural global economy, it has become essential for internationally operating corporations to foster intercultural knowledge and global perspectives. An effective way to acquire intercultural knowledge is to relocate employees to another country for a period of one to five years on international assignment (IA) (Takeuchi, Yun, & Russell, 2002). By this method, the employee may gain international knowledge through his or her experience and become a potential key resource for the company’s competitive advantage (Takeuchi et al., 2002). Acting as a link between the corporation and its subsidiaries, the expatriate develops decisive knowledge of the market in a specific country. Creating valuable bonds across cultures, he ensures the continuity of the corporation’s philosophy (Au & Fukuda, 2002; Aycan, 1997; Black & Gregersen, 1991). As a consequence, a growing number of employees are sent abroad on IA every year. Researchers suggest that their number will increase in the future (Kühlmann, 2004). The IA has, therefore, become a valued instrument for human resources development (Kühlmann, 2004; Mendenhall, Kühlmann, Stahl, & Osland, 2002).

The efficient positioning of an expatriate in an IA is a critical step in human resource management (Stroh et al., 1994). The expatriate is an investment for the company, according to Wederspahn (as cited in Shaffer, Harrison, & Gilley, 1999), costing at least three times more in the first year than a manager in the same position in the home country. Thus, the expatriate can become a financial risk. High direct and indirect costs are associated with expatriate ineffectiveness, rising even more when the expatriate returns prematurely from the IA and a substitute needs to be found and trained (Black & Stephens, 1989). Direct costs can emerge by inadequate expatriate performance and inefficient productivity of the subsidiary (Aycan, 1997; Foster, 1992; Takeuchi et al., 2002). Indirectly, the company’s reputation and customer relations in the host country may suffer and market opportunities can be missed (Aycan, 1997). As a consequence, other potential expatriates may refuse their relocation (Stroh, 1995).

For the expatriate a failure can result in low self-esteem, career repercussions, loss of face in front of peers and supervisor, and strain on the family (Mendenhall & Oddou, 1985; Takeuchi et al., 2002). The literature is not very clear about the expatriate failure rates. Some authors talk about significant failure rates (Aryee & Stone, 1996; Mendenhall & Oddou, 1985), while others point out that no accurate data on expatriate psychological withdrawal rate or premature return is available (Forster, 1997; Kühlmann, 2004).

The adjustment of the expatriate to his or her host country has been detected as one of the most crucial factors influencing the success or failure of the IA (Aryee & Stone, 1996; Black & Gregersen, 1991; Black & Stephens, 1989). Maladjustment to the host country is cited as the second most important reason for expatriates to return prematurely from their assignment (Black & Stephens, 1989). According to surveys, 80 per cent of the expatriates are married and most of them take their children with them to the host country (Ali, Van der Zee, & Sanders, 2003). Companies need to be aware that in many cases they are not only sending an expatriate abroad but a whole family-system. Relocation to another country represents a great challenge for the employees and their families. Shifted from their known environments, expatriates and their families have to adjust to a new culture, a different climate, different customs, another language, and a myriad of altered life conditions (Black & Gregersen, 1991; Caligiuri, Hyland, & Joshi, 1998). They need to get accustomed to reactions that differ from what they had expected and possibly develop a new non-verbal communication skill. Accordingly, expatriates and their families have to adjust on many different levels. Maladjustment of the spouse and family is, correspondingly, cited as the most frequent reason for premature expatriate return and failed IA (Black & Stephens, 1989).

Past research has shown that adjustment is influenced by factors such as personality characteristics, predeparture training, and diverse work factors like role clarity and role novelty (Black, Mendenhall, & Oddou, 1991; Caligiuri, 2000; Shaffer et al., 1999). Although the qualitative literature (McCollum, 1990; Osland, 1995; Selmer, 1998) has often argued for an influence of the expatriates’ motivation to accept the IA on adjustment, no formal quantitative analyses has been conducted yet. Accordingly, the present study aims to explore the role of motivation on the adjustment process. A second proposed antecedent is the acculturation attitude. Acculturation is the process by which, persons from one cultural background adapt to people from another cultural background (Tung, 1998).

Individuals vary in their attitudes depending on how strongly they retain their own cultural identity and how strongly they relate to a new culture (Berry, Kim, Power, Young, & Bujak, 1989). This study explores the relationship between motivation to accept the IA, acculturation attitude and adjustment.

Furthermore this study expands the model of adjustment by exploring its role as mediator between antecedents and important outcomes. A great part of the expatriate literature has focused on adjustment and its antecedents, while the outcomes have mainly been neglected. Whenever outcomes were addressed, they were often more hypothesized than actually empirically tested (Aycan, 1997; Hechanova, Beehr, & Christiansen, 2003; Mol, Born, & van der Molen, 2005; Tucker, Bonial, & Lahti, 2004), although it has been suggested that only an adjusted expatriate can actually succeed (Mendenhall et al., 2002). There are in particular two measures for the outcomes of adjustment. One outcome is performance and the other is the intention to leave the IA prematurely. For expatriates the performance in the home country is not automatically comparable to the performance in the host country. Not all expatriates are as effective abroad as they had been at home. Lanier (1979) referred to those ineffective expatriates as “brownouts”. He applies this term to expatriates who are not able to adjust and consequently are not performing on the same level as they would at home but who refuse to return home prematurely. This study analyzes both the influence of adjustment on job performance and on the intention to leave the assignment prematurely.

Moreover, the assumed influence of the adjustment of the expatriate’s spouse on the expatriate’s performance is investigated. Explaining the importance of the expatriate spouse’s adjustment, authors often refer to the influence of the spouse on performance of the expatriate (Caligiuri et al., 1998) but this often assumed relationship has not been empirically tested yet (Mol et al., 2005). The link between adjustment and performance is based on a stress theory, arguing that maladjustment leads to strain (Hechanova et al., 2003). Also the maladjustment of the spouse is theorized to bring strain to the expatriate. The present study investigates how adjustment leads to strain and the effect of strain on performance. Figure 1 gives an overview of the model presented.

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2.1. The concept of Adjustment

Because adjustment, acculturation and adaptation are used interchangeably in the expatriate literature, definition and operationalization of adjustment still poses a problem in the expatriate research and no consensus has as yet been found. (Aycan, 1997; Mendenhall et al., 2002). Adjustment has frequently been defined as the degree of fit and reduced conflict between the expatriate and the environment (Aycan, 1997; Breiden, Mirza, & Mohr, 2004) or as a self reported feeling of acceptance, satisfaction and comfort of the expatriate towards the new environment (Ali et al., 2003; Hechanova et al., 2003; Mendenhall et al., 2002).

One of the most popular models of adjustment was conceptualized by Black, Mendenhall and Oddou (1991). Black, Mendenhall and Oddou derived their model from Bandura’s social learning theory. To adjust, expatriates need to learn new roles, rules and norms of social interaction. Black et al. reviewed the domestic relocation literature and cross-cultural adjustment literature and integrated it into a “comprehensive model of international adjustment” (Black et al., 1991). This model is based on the concept of adjustment as a multifaceted phenomenon. Each facet of adjustment can be influenced by different factors, such as the expatriate himself or herself or the organization, and has different impacts on various outcomes of adjustment (Aycan, 1997).

Black and Gregersen (1991) describe three dimensions of adjustment: general adjustment, interaction adjustment and work adjustment. General adjustment refers to the degree of adjustment to general living conditions including climate, food, housing, and cost of living. Work adjustment refers to the adjustment to work values such as expectations and standards in the host country. Interaction adjustment refers to the interpersonal communication with host country nationals. It is especially noteworthy that interaction adjustment only refers to host country nationals. Situations are possible where expatriates can have their social needs met only with other expatriates or even expatriates from the same home country. This clearly is also a form of adjustment, but a different one than the adjustment towards host country nationals, since language and non-verbal communication might not differ as much as it does with the host country nationals.

Black et al. (1991) derived 19 propositions in their review which were tested by different authors. Although some authors argue that only a minimal number of studies investigated the propositions made by Black and his collegues (Mendenhall et al., 2002), recent reviews have supported the Black, Mendenhall and Oddou model, which is one of the most tested (Hechanova et al., 2003). Support can be found for the influence of different job factors such as role clarity, role discretion and role novelty (Bhaskar-Shrinivas, Harrison, & Shaffer, 2005; Shaffer et al., 1999; Stroh et al., 1994), for various organizational factors such as coworker support and logistical support (Bhaskar-Shrinivas et al., 2005; Shaffer et al., 1999) for non work factors such as cultural novelty and spouse adjustment (Shaffer et al., 1999; Stroh et al., 1994) and for individual factors such as previous assignments and language fluency (Bhaskar-Shrinivas et al., 2005; Shaffer et al., 1999). However, various aspects that could also influence adjustment have not been considered in the model and further investigations have to be conducted to firmly establish “what facilitates or hinders assignees adjustment to IA.” (Bhaskar-Shrinivas et al., 2005).

2.2. The concept of Motivation

Motivation theory is concerned with the question of what motivates people to do something. People can have different levels of motivation, being highly motivated or not at all. But people differ not only on the level of motivation, but also on the type of motivation (Ryan & Deci, 2000). One of the well-established theories concerned with the different types of motivation is the theory of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. This theory emerged in response to behavioural programs that centred on learning and reward (Lepper, Henderlong Corpus, & Iyengar, 2005).

Intrinsic motivation has been defined as being motivated to perform a task because it is seen as inherently interesting or because the topic of the activity is inherently interesting (Heckhausen, 1980; Ryan & Deci, 2000; Schiefele, 1996). This means a student can be studying because he thinks that studying is enjoyable or because of the topic of his studies

e. g. psychology is seen as interesting. Extrinsic motivation has been defined as being motivated to perform a task in expectation of a separable outcome (Heckhausen, 1980; Ryan & Deci, 2000). This separable outcome can be an actual reward, praise or even to avoid negative outcomes such as retributions or career drawbacks.

Meanwhile there are many theories extending the extrinsic – intrinsic theory. Csikszentmihalyi and Schiefele (1993) wanted to explain why people engaged in strenuous activities without any reward and found the flow-concept. Ryan and Deci (2000a) integrated the concept of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in their Self-Determination Theory. Not only they included there competence and autonomy, but also expanded the extrinsic motivation to different levels. Nevertheless, most of the studies focus on extrinsic and intrinsic motivation only.

Motivational research has shown, that the outcome of a behavior can vary if the motivation is intrinsic or extrinsic, e.g. extrinsic motivation resulting in less creativity, impatience, or rigid task engagement (Amabile, Hill, Hennesey, & Tighe, 1994; Ryan & Deci, 2000).

2.3. The concept of Acculturation

People display different attitudes as to how strongly they want to approach the culture of their host country and how much they foster their own cultural background (Berry et al., 1989). Two dimensions have been identified as relevant for the acculturation attitude; mainstream culture orientation and heritage culture orientation (Berry et al., 1989). Mainstream culture orientation refers to the extent to which a person relates to the culture of the larger society. For expatriates the mainstream culture is the prevailing culture of the host country. Heritage culture orientation refers to the preservation of the cultural norms and customs of a person’s heritage culture, the culture in which the person has been raised (Tung, 1998).

In the acculturation literature uni-dimensional and bi-dimensional models of acculturation can be found. From an uni-dimensional point of view, acculturation to the host country happens on a continuum and goes hand in hand with a loss of the heritage culture identity (Stevens, Pels, Vollebergh, & Crijnen, 2004). From a bi-dimensional point of view the heritage culture orientation and the mainstream culture orientation are relatively independent. This approach takes into consideration that individuals can be at home in two cultures (Berry et al., 1989). Various studies support a bi-dimensional model (Ryder, Alden, & Paulhus, 2000). In over 30 years of research John Berry’s acculturation framework has become the most recognized and widely researched bi-dimensional model (Dees, 2006). The acculturation orientation dimensions can be regarded on their own, or categorized in one of four types.

Berry’s contribution is the analysis of the acculturation attitudes or strategies, which he identified as being assimilation, integration, separation and marginalization (Berry et al., 1989).

The categorization of the four acculturation types is based on how valuable it is to the expatriates to maintain their own cultural identity or adopt the cultural identity of the host country. Integration describes an individual that integrates both, the heritage culture and the mainstream culture, regarding both as being of value. Assimilation describes an individual that gives up his or her heritage culture and adapts fully to the mainstream culture orientation. In expatriate terms this strategy is known as “going native” (Osland, 1995). Separation describes the strategy to maintain the heritage culture and to reject the mainstream culture of the host country. This would be an expatriate who tries very hard to retain as many traditions of his home country as possible. Marginalization describes an individual who rejects both the heritage culture and the mainstream culture of the host country. Bourhis (1997) chose later the term “individualism” instead of marginalization. Based on recent studies he argues that there are people who prefer to identify themselves as individuals and reject group ascriptions per se (Bourhis et al., 1997). According to some researchers, this type is more often found in individualistic cultures in contrast to collectivistic countries (Bourhis et al., 1997).

As the aim of this study are expatriates coming from a German speaking country and because Germany is an individualistic country (Hofstede, 1997), it follows naturally, that the term individualism is seen as more appropriate for this study instead of marginalization.

Figure 2 shows the revised bi-dimensional model following (Bourhis et al., 1997) and adapted for the expatriate context.

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Literature provides two methods to measure Berry’s acculturation strategies. Berry himself used an instrument with four subscales, one for each acculturation strategy (Berry et al., 1989). Methodology of this approach has been criticized because of the theoretical interdependency of the scales (Ryder et al., 2000). Also the scale items have been criticized as being too imprecise and complex. The question has been raised that the scales not only measure acculturation attidtude but also other domains (Ward & Rana-Deuba, 1999). An item sample from Berry (1989) to stress this point is: “Most of my friends are Koreans because I feel very comfortable around them, but I don’t feel as comfortable around Canadians”.

Another approach to Berry’s acculturation strategies is measuring two dimension of acculturation, the orientation towards the heritage culture and the orientation towards the mainstream culture. In order to obtain the four types, scores are subject to a split and are dichotomized. This method has also been used by several authors (Ryder et al., 2000; Ward & Rana-Deuba, 1999) and will be used in this study, along with the dimension of heritage culture alone.

2.4. Motivation to accept an IA and its influence on acculturation

From a motivation theory point of view, an expatriate can be intrinsically or extrinsically motivated to accept an IA. Some expatriates accept the challenge of an IA to explore a new culture and extend their capacities. They are highly enthusiastic about their relocation and carry it out with a sense of mission. They are moved to accept the IA because they feel it is inherently interesting. Osland (1995) shows in her work about the hero’s journey that quite a few expatriates could decide pretty fast, whether they wanted to accept the assignment or not. They “answered the call to adventure” with a gut feeling that it was something they wanted or they had to do. These individuals can be identified as intrinsically motivated.

Other expatriates feel pressured by their company or have strategical or economical factors in mind. They accept the IA in order to secure a separate outcome such as financial enhancement, greater autonomy and career promotions, or simply to satisfy their supervisor’s will. These individuals can be identified as extrinsically motivated. Considering especially, that expatriates can influence their adjustment, it seems reasonable, that differences in intrinsic and extrinsic motivation to accept the IA can have an influence on the acculturation of the expatriate.

I suggest that intrinsic motivation is positively related to mainstream culture orientation. Because intrinsic motivation is grounded in an inherent interest in the other culture, this should result in greater involvement in the mainstream culture. Extrinsically motivated individuals will see the IA as a means to achieve their personal goals. Their involvement will be only as strong as it helps them to realize these aims. Therefore, I expect extrinsic motivation will be negatively related to the mainstream culture orientation.

Hypothesis 1a:

Intrinsic motivation towards an IA will be positively related to the mainstream culture orientation..

Hypothesis 1b:

Extrinsic motivation towards an IA will be negatively related to the mainstream culture orientation.

2.5. The influence of the acculturation attitude on adjustment.

While interacting and communicating with host country nationals, the expatriate learns the unwritten rules of the host country culture and how to communicate more efficiently with host country nationals. In this way he or she learns to “fit in” (Aycan, 1997; Tung, 1998). Various authors have pointed out the importance to relate to the mainstream culture to adequately adjust to the new culture (Berry et al., 1989; Swagler & Jome, 2005).

Expatriates and their families who have little contact with host country nationals will have problems to fully understand the other culture. Host country nationals not only act as a source of valuable information, but can also help as mentors to “translate” cultural discrepancies and explain the inner meaning behind some cultural assets (Osland, 1995). I suggest, that the mainstream culture orientation attitude will be positively related to all three facets of adjustment.

Hypothesis 2a:

The mainstream orientation acculturation attitude will be positively related to general, work and interaction adjustment.

With regard to the four acculturation types it is reasonable to assume that different acculturation types bring different adjustment levels. Integrating both the heritage culture and the mainstream culture is seen by different authors as the best acculturation attitude for expatriates (Berry et al., 1989). It is also an important asset, since expatriates often serve as strategic connections between a company’s headquarters and subsidiaries in the different countries (Au & Fukuda, 2002). To be able to fulfill this intermediating role, an understanding of both cultures is essential (Osland, 2000). Many expatriates themselves regard the attitude of integrating both the heritage and the host country culture as the most effective way for the success of the IA (Tung, 1998). Additionally, in some cultures expatriates assimilating too much to the host culture can be regarded by the host country nationals as having betrayed their inherent culture. As a result, they are met with suspicion by the host country nationals (Osland, 2000). Consequently, it can be important for the expatriate to cultivate his or her own heritage culture as well as approaching the mainstream culture.

Assimilation has already been described as an acculturation attitude that can be problematic. One problem is the expatriate community, which sometimes reacts negatively towards other expatriates who are “going native”. The other problem is sometimes with the host country nationals themselves, who in some cultures regard it as suspicious if someone gives up their home culture (Osland, 1995). Although in terms of adjustment, it certainly seems reasonable that this strategy will have the strongest relationship with adjustment.

Most expatriates know that after a couple of years they will return to their home country. Especially if they have children, they might want them to be comfortable with the customs of their home country, ensuring that their return is less of a cultural disruption for them and they still “fit in” well in their home culture. This could lead to a separatistic attitude towards the host country culture. On the other side, separation means that the host country culture is rejected. A rejection of the host country clearly is not a prerequisite for good adjustment and could even hinder adjustment.

The individualist acculturation type doesn’t want to be associated with one certain group of people and in some parts rejects both the mainstream culture and the heritage culture. On the one hand it is possible that this will make him lack understanding of the culture of the host country and could bring many problems based on cultural misunderstanding. On the other hand, this enables him to adjust better than a person rejecting the mainstream culture completely and clinging only to the heritage culture. I suggest therefore, that a person preferring the individualism acculturation strategy will be better adjusted than a person favoring the separation type.

Thus, I suggest, that there are significant differences between the adjustment means of the four acculturation strategies. Expatriates favoring the assimilation strategy will have the strongest adjustment, followed by those with an integration strategy. Expatriates favoring the individualism acculturation strategy will be less well adjusted than those following the integration strategy, but better adjusted than those expatriates following a separation strategy.

Hypothesis 3:

Individuals following an assimilation strategy will have the strongest adjustument mean on all three facet of adjustment.

Individuals following an integration strategy will have the second strongst adjustment mean on all three facets of adjustment.

Individuals following a separation strategy will have the lowest adjustment mean on all three facets of adjustment

Individuals following an individualistic strategy will have the second lowest adjustment mean on all three facets of adjustment.


3.1 Adjustment and Strain

The lack of adjustment results in discomfort with the climate, the food, the general life conditions, and the interacting with host country nationals. Pointing out the relationship between strain and adjustment Shaffer and Harrison (1998) have even termed adjustment the “conceptual antithesis of distress”. Hofstede (1980) has indicated that people can be put under heavy stress when being forced into exposure to an alien culture. In everyday language, expatriates speak of culture shock, which can be seen as a stress reaction to difficulties understanding and predicting the ways of the cultural other (Richards, 1996). Therefore, adjustment to the host culture should reduce stress. If a person is not adjusted to the general environment and the living conditions, the simple things of life become a source of strain. In qualitative interviews some expatriates have described difficulties in going shopping if the political situation is not reassuring, if the food that the family likes is hard to find or if the medical facilities lack the familiar standard (Osland, 1995). These difficulties with the general adjustment can produce strain for the expatriate. In consequence I suggest a negative relationship exists between general adjustment and strain.

Hypothesis 4a:

General adjustment is negatively related to strain

As already mentioned the role that host country nationals can play as cultural mentors for the expatriate is important. Expatriates have to be able to interact with the host country nationals to gain cultural insight or gather important information as to where to go shopping, what doctor can be trusted etcetera. To be able to efficiently use these resources the expatriate has to be able to interact with the host country nationals. Richards (1996) argues, that expatriates who feel or are excluded from interaction with host country nationals can develop “mild or serious paranoid patterns of behavior”. On the other hand, being able to interact with host country nationals can strengthen the self-confidence of the expatriate (Osland, 1995). Therefore, I suggest, that interaction with host country nationals is negatively related to strain.

Hypothesis 4b:

Interaction adjustment is negatively related to strain

Coming into a new workplace the employee has to adapt to a different workplace, maybe a new work role and possibly culturally different co-workers who interact in a different language at work. And although the new workplace is often a subsidiary of the same company, there is no guarantee that the organizational culture will be the same. This can cause strain as the employee tries to become well socialized in his organizational role. I suggest therefore, that work adjustment is negatively related to strain.

Hypothesis 4c:

Work adjustment is negatively related to strain

3.2. Spouse adjustment

Black and Stephens (1989) have brought evidence that spouse adjustment and expatriate adjustment are related. Family adjustment has been suggested to influence expatriate performance but it has never actually been tested (Mol et al., 2005). The theoretical framework for the influence of family adjustment on performance is provided by spillover theory (Caligiuri et al., 1998). A maladjusted family needs more support and engagement from the expatriate. For example the expatriate needs to take a day off to accompany his wife and children to the doctor, because she doesn’t speak the language sufficiently. Furthermore, negative emotions and strain from the maladjusted family spills over into the working place, drawing off psychological resources. The results are fewer free resources that otherwise could have been applied to work performance and higher stress coping behavior (Berman, 2004; Edwarts & Rothbard, 2000; McCollum, 1990; Richards, 1996). Accordingly, I suggest, that spouse adjustment will be negatively related to strain.

Hypothesis 4d:

Spouse adjustment is negatively related to strain


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Antecedents and outcomes of expatriate adjustment - The influence of motivation and acculturation attitude on adjustment and performance
Justus-Liebig-University Giessen
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Dipl.-Psych. Elizabeth Schibli-Lazzaro (Author), 2006, Antecedents and outcomes of expatriate adjustment - The influence of motivation and acculturation attitude on adjustment and performance, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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