Ups and downs of the expatriate experience? Understanding work adjustment trajectories and career outcomes.

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The Journal of applied psychology, ISSN: 1939-1854, Vol: 101, Issue: 4, Page: 549-68

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Zhu, Jing; Wanberg, Connie R; Harrison, David A; Diehn, Erica W
American Psychological Association (APA); UST Research Online
Psychology; expatriate adjustment; core self-evaluations; uncertainty reduction; career instrumentality; job promotion; Business Administration, Management, and Operations
article description
We examine changes in work adjustment among 179 expatriates from 3 multinational organizations from predeparture through the first 9 months of a new international assignment. Our 10-wave results challenge classic U-shaped theories of expatriate adjustment (e.g., Torbiorn, 1982). Consistent with uncertainty reduction theory, our results instead suggest that expatriates typically experience a gradual increase in work adjustment over time. Two resources that expatriates bring to their assignments (previous culture-specific work experience and core self-evaluations) moderate the trajectory of work adjustment. Trajectory of adjustment predicts Month 9 career instrumentality and turnover intention, as well as career advancement (job promotion) 1.5 years further. Implications for theory, as well as for changes in expatriate management practices, are discussed.