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19 January, 2016 - 15:28

According to Simcha Ronen, a researcher on international assignments, there are five categories that determine expatriate success. They include job factors, relational dimensions, motivational state, family situation, and language skills. The likelihood the assignment will be a success depends on the attributes listed in Table 14.5. As a result, the appropriate selection process and training can prevent some of these failings. Family stress, cultural inflexibility, emotional immaturity, too much responsibility, and longer work hours (which draw the expatriate away from family, who could also be experiencing culture shock) are some of the reasons cited for expatriate failure.

Table 14.5 Categories of Expatriate Success Predictors with Examples

Job Factors

Relational Dimensions

Motivational State

Family Situation

Language Skills

Technical skills

Tolerance for ambiguity

Belief in the mission

Willingness of spouse to live abroad

Host-country language

Familiarity with host country and headquarters operations

Behavioral flexibility

Congruence with career path

Adaptive and supportive spouse

Nonverbal communication

Managerial skills


Interest in overseas experience

Stable marriage

Administrative competence

Cultural empathy and low ethnocentrism

Interest in specific host-country culture

Interpersonal skills

Willingness to acquire new patterns of behavior and attitudes


Most expatriates go through four phases of adjustment when they move overseas for an assignment. They include elation/honeymoon, resistance, adaption, andbiculturalism. In the elation phase, the employee is excited about the new surroundings and finds the culture exotic and stimulating. In the resistance phase, the employee may start to make frequent comparisons between home and host country and may seek out reminders of home. Frustration may occur because of everyday living, such as language and cultural differences. During the adaptation phase, the employee gains language skills and starts to adjust to life overseas. Sometimes during this phase, expatriates may even tend to reject their own culture. In this phase, the expatriate is embracing life overseas. In the last phase, biculturalism, the expatriate embraces the new culture and begins to appreciate his old life at home equally as much as his new life overseas. Many of the problems associated with expatriate failures, such as family life and cultural stress, have diminished.

Figure 14.1 Phases of Expatriate Adjustment