Title

Ups and Downs of the Expatriate Experience? Understanding work adjustment trajectories and career outcomes

Department/School

Management

Date of this version

2016

Document Type

Article

Keywords

expatriate adjustment, core self-evaluations, uncertainty reduction, career instrumentality, job promotion

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 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.

Published in

Journal of Applied Psychology

Citation/Other Information

101(4), 549-568

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