Nature of the assignment

  • • Prior work experience in a similar culture (Bhaskar-Shrinivas et al., 2005; Shaffer, et al., 1999). It should be noted that some studies shed doubt on the importance of cultural similarity (e.g., Palthe, 2004). For example, Finnish expatriates had difficulty adjusting to European countries (Suutari and Brewster, 1998); Indian expatriates living overseas had more difficulty adjusting to work in India than in Oman (Deosthalee, 2002); Hong Kong expatriates to China had more adjustment problems than Chinese expatriates in Hong Kong (Selmer, et al., 2003). It appears that cultural similarity or dissimilarity, by itself, is not a factor significantly influencing the adjustment process.
  • • Duration of the assignment. Generally, the U-curve hypothesis is supported to depict the dynamic nature of adjustment (honeymoon period, followed by a period of discomfort, ending with high degree of adjustment), but a sideways S appeared to be a better-fitting model (U curve followed by a period of decline) (Bhaskar- Shrinivas et al., 2005).
  • • Longer duration of the assignment and autonomy in the expatriate’s role (role discretion) enhanced adjustment, whereas role ambiguity lowers it (Hechanova et al., 2003). However, Palthe (2004) reports that role discretion lowers interaction adjustment. These contradictory findings suggest that too little and too much discretion increases adjustment difficulties.
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