Expatriate Sociocultural Adjustment
Mentor:Brian Kim, Professor of Psychology, Occidental College
In an interconnected world, workers are often sent on assignments abroad. Past research indicates that cross-cultural training predicts adjustment in a foreign country. However, little research addresses the use of Realistic Job Previews (RJPs), processes that provide information about both positive and negative aspects of the new job, in predicting adjustment. RJPs may facilitate adjustment abroad by reducing uncertainty about the new job responsibilities and culture. Foreign employees (N=133) who were transferred to the United States by their employer were surveyed about their exposure to an RJP and about their adjustment, cultural distance, perceptions of cultural novelty, time in the US on current assignment, prior experience in the US, age, gender, and English proficiency. Results indicate that RJPs are uncorrelated with adjustment. Unlike previous research, there were no gender differences on adjustment. Additionally, regression analyses were used to determine which of two commonly cited measures of cultural difference better predict adjustment. Results showed that Hofstede’s measures of cultural distance predicted adjustment, unlike Torbiorn’s measures of cultural novelty. Further research needs to examine what information is typically included in an RJP for foreign employment and which aspects of cultural differences can be integrated into RJPs and cross-cultural training programs.