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

Jing Zhu, Connie R. Wanberg, David A. Harrison, Erica W. Diehn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations

Abstract

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 culturespecific 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)549-568
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Applied Psychology
Volume101
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016

Keywords

  • Career instrumentality
  • Core self-evaluations
  • Expatriate adjustment
  • Job promotion
  • Uncertainty reduction

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