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Revisiting Black, Mendenhall, and Oddou (1991)'s Framework for International Adjustment model: a prescriptive approach.

Black, Mendenhall, and Oddou's Framework for International Adjustment (FIA) is a well-known and established research model that describes the cross-cultural adjustment process for expatriates (Black, Mendenhall & Oddou, 1991). The main purpose of this research is to refine some dimensions of FIA into a more prescriptive model that systematically investigates factors related to the expatriate adjustment. First, we provide an updated review of more recent literature to further define elements of the FIA model as well as to expand some parts of the model. Second, we propose a more prescriptive research model of international adjustment to inform and direct expatriates and their organizations for successful cross-cultural adjustment. Third, we suggest appropriate measures for the constructs of the research model and propose hypotheses for empirically testing the prescriptive model.


Due to the rapid rise of globalization over the past half century, organizations are faced with new challenges in managing global human resources such as expatriate failure and intercultural ineffectiveness. Not surprisingly, the estimated range of failure for overseas assignments is somewhere between 16% and 70% depending on the relative novelty of the host country (Sims & Schraeder, 2004). The cost of failure at any given firm varies from $65,000 to $1 million (Shannonhouse, 1996). The total cost for American firms has been estimated to exceed $2 billion annually (Punnett, 1997). Further, failed assignments can damage firm reputation, disrupt relationships with locals, and negatively affect expatriate's psychological health (Fisher & Hartel, 2003). Therefore, with increasing expansion into international markets, organizations must give even greater attention to the selection, training, competency and adjustment of their expatriates.

In order to respond to the challenges, researchers have intensively studied international adjustment issues such as cultural value dimensions, cross-cultural skills, and cross-cultural training. Prior to the cultural value dimension studies (e.g., Hofstede, 1980; Lingenfelter & Mayers, 1986; Trompenaars, 1993; Javidan & House, 2001), most of the cross-cultural research was focused on expatriate adjustment to culture shock. Typically, these earlier studies centered on the U-curve adjustment pattern that takes place after the expatriate arrives on a foreign assignment (McCormick & Chapman, 1996; Black & Mendenhall, 1991). Social learning theory was then employed to explain adjustment from the perspective of individual learning through social interaction during acculturation (Black & Mendenhall, 1991; Bandura, 1977). Some other studies found pre-departure selection and preparation as an important factor for adjustment while identifying variables that predict intercultural effectiveness for either selection or training purposes (e.g., Hutchings, 2002; Liu & Lee, 2008). It should be noted that many competency variables, such as flexibility, are cross-culture general traits so that they apply regardless of which culture the expatriate is entering (Bochner, 1973). However, much of the trait research then shifted in favor of behavioral research primarily due to limited support for the links between traits and performance (Hammer, 1987). Other research showed that a combination of these trait and behavioral factors, in addition to culture specific preparation, may play an important role in expatriate success (Pires, Stanton, & Ostenfeld, 2006; Elmer, 1986).

While each of these research streams makes important and unique contributions to the literature on expatriates' international adjustment, their models are mainly descriptive and largely based upon a somewhat isolated single theoretical perspective. So, we believe that a more prescriptive and comprehensive theoretical model is needed for responding to the present challenges properly including a 1) a more recent literature review, 2) a comparison and synthesis of constructs and models from multiple theoretical perspectives, and 3) to update the key variables of international adjustment for investigating the current phenomenon appropriately. Fourth, there is a need to more thoroughly examine the relationship between cross-cultural effectiveness and adjustment.


Black, Mendenhall and Oddou (1991) proposed the following model (see Figure 1 below) to explain the overall process for international adjustment. The model recognizes cross-cultural adjustment as a multi-dimensional construct that traditionally has been defined as the extent of psychological comfort that an expatriate experiences when encountering different aspects of a new culture (Black, 1988; Black & Stevens, 1989; Liu & Lee 2008). As described in the Ucurve theory, the degree of adjustment plotted against time begins at a high point during the initial honeymoon phase, followed by an almost immediate drop in adjustment caused by culture shock, followed by an upward adjustment and finally, mastery. Adjustment is not so much a matter of conformity to a specific culture but is observed as increasing satisfaction in being able to cope because the expatriate learns how to work effectively within the host country. In short, the goal for adjustment is not assimilation, only acculturation. The degree of adjustment may be specific to a country, organization, or the individual expatriate. It should also be noted that the social learning theory approach mentioned above deemphasizes specific time frames for adjustment and focuses on learning curves for individuals.

However, early studies (e.g., Baker & Ivancevich, 1971; Adler, 1983a) found that "Management researchers have largely failed to study systematically the psychological, social, and behavioral concerns of managing overseas operations" (Liu & Lee, 2008, p. 182). One of the exceptions is the Black et al. (1991)'s Framework of International Adjustment (FIA). FIA provides a good foundation 1) to build upon; 2) to identify a more comprehensive list of competency factors and models from the literature; 3) to integrate those factors and models into a systematic framework; and 4) identify, where possible, actual or potential interaction effects while synthesizing factors and models.


The FIA has an advantage in that it begins to move away from the strictly linear model of adjustment, based on time, toward the recognition of adjustment as a broad multifaceted construct with interacting dimensions. This seems reasonable considering that individuals vary in the amount of time they need for adjustment. Beginning with the Anticipatory Adjustment Phase, prior to entering a new culture, expatriates are typically selected for overseas service based upon technical or managerial capabilities. Some receive technical training along with culture-general and culture-specific training. Expatriates may also have had prior cross-cultural experience traveling to the country of destination on business trips or may have lived in another culture. Selection, training, and previous experience all contribute to more accurate expectations for entering into the in-country adjustment period. Black, Mendenhall, & Oddou (1991) identified five major in-country variables affecting adjustment. First, individuals bring with them differing levels of self-efficacy, relational skills and perceptions that may be either evaluative or non-judgmental. Second, the degree of clarity, discretion, novelty, and conflict in the job itself strongly influences adjustment outcomes. Third, how novel (different) the host organization's culture is compared to the parent corporation and the level of social and logistical support from the host organization, play a major role in adjustment. Fourth, whether formal or informal, effective tactics and content of organizational socialization help expatriates successfully learn inside the host organization. Fifth, non-work factors including how novel the mainstream culture is and whether family-spouse are successful in adjusting, influence the overall success of the placement. All five factors simultaneously interact and contribute to the mode and degree of overall adjustment.


The following literature review is organized around the FIA. Again, the purpose of this study is to review recent research to update the FIA, to identify gaps between the FIA and the recent research, to build an extended model with more clearly defined elements, to integrate the elements of the model where possible. Thus, we try not to repeat what Black, Mendenhall, & Oddou. (1991) identified here.

Anticipatory Adjustment

Three elements of anticipatory adjustment appeared in the literature: testing, training, and previous experience. Testing in intercultural effectiveness can play an important role in preparing expatriates. Candidates should be tested for openness to diversity, interpersonal ability, and language skills (Ayoko & Hartel, 2000). Cross-cultural testing can inform the expatriate about the degree of their preparedness to engage in cross-cultural situations. Further, specific language and culture pre-testing may be necessary to determine the level and type of training required for overseas adjustment.

Rigorous pre-departure cross-cultural training reduces stress, uncertainty, and culture shock (Sims & Schraeder, 2004). Training may include both cross-cultural specific and general content. Other approaches to cultural training are cross cultural assimilators (Bhawuk, 2001), total immersion in the host culture and language prior to beginning the new assignment (Pires & Stanton, 2000, 2005), and various global leadership development programs. Adjustment was found to improve by enhancing an expatriate's language skills (Shaffer & Harrison, 2001).

Two types of cross-cultural experience emerged from the literature: experience with the host culture and experience living and working in any other culture. In a study on selection for overseas expatriates, Australian managers, who had limited exposure in the global market and were not exposed to international best practices, consequently had difficulty serving in Chinese assignments and lacked general globalization skills necessary for success in international business (Edwards, O'Reilly, & Schuwalow, 1997; IRIC, 1995). Therefore, previous experience with the host culture or an overseas assignment is valuable in preparing expatriates.

Black, Mendenall, & Oddou (1991) emphasize the importance of multinational organizations using a wider range of selection criteria for expatriates than domestic employees. Often, high performing domestic workers are selected for overseas assignments when, in fact, they may lack skills and knowledge for overseas assignments. When selecting expatriates, there are different advantages to choosing parent country nationals (PCN), host country nationals (HCN), and third country nationals (TCN). PCNs know the corporate culture but lack knowledge about local labor markets, education systems, language, and culture (Scullion, 1992). HCNs often lack knowledge of the corporate culture but have no difficulty with local issues. More frequently, organizations are hiring TCNs because they can readily adapt to any culture. Hutchings (2002) reports that organizations are making greater efforts to select expatriates who have language and cross-cultural skills and who have completed other foreign assignments. This finding indicates that companies are still not willing to invest in support but, because the demands of an overseas assignment are challenging, companies are acknowledging the need to select expatriates who require less support since they already have knowledge of the host country.

One strategy for integrating individual training and international experience with organization selection mechanisms is sending expatriates abroad to develop global competencies. Even when they are short-term, these are developmental opportunities from which expatriates gain tangible value-added organizational skills and knowledge, culture specific and general knowledge and skills, an increase in global perspectives, ability to communicate more effectively with people from diverse backgrounds, and a better understanding of trends in business (Mendenhall, 1991 in Liu & Lee, 2008; Hutchings, 2002). Organizations need to brief expatriates extensively prior to being sent on overseas assignments. Briefings should include goal setting and performance expectations in addition to learning about socio-cultural limitations of functioning in the host environment (Hutchings, 2002). Fisher and Hartel (2003) found that human resource managers need not only to identify factors that influence intercultural effectiveness, they need to assess workers on these factors and create interventions including diversity awareness and cross-cultural training. They need to teach mental models and how to apply them in the host country, and as already noted, to provide exposure to foreign travel.

In-Country Adjustment

Black, Mendenhall, & Oddou (1991) identified key factors affecting intercultural effectiveness and adjustment while defining 1) intercultural effectiveness as the ability of a person within the intercultural environment, and 2) adjustment as the overall multifaceted process through which expatriates develop an increasing degree of satisfaction in being able to cope with a cross-cultural environment. Intercultural effectiveness and adjustment include four dimensions, namely, self-orientation, other-orientation, perceptual skills and cultural toughness (Black et al., 1991). Self-oriented individuals engage in activities and have attributes that increase their self-esteem and confidence while finding replacements for their home interests and activities. They, in turn, handle stress well and demonstrate efficacy in both the work and social environments. Other-oriented individuals have the ability to develop relationships with host nationals and actively seek and find mentors. Individuals with strong perceptual skills tend to engage in non-judgmental, non-evaluative mental processing about their situation. Successful expatriates are often required to adjust to cultural toughness, which refers to differences in standards of living that expatriates experience: the greater the difference, the more difficult the adjustment.

Fisher and Hartel (2003) further assert that three personal factors contribute to intercultural effectiveness: ability to communicate effectively, to establish relationships, and to cope with psychological stress. Another recent study proposed that emotions, especially for individualists working in collectivistic cultures for long periods of time, play a major role in cross-cultural success. More specifically, emotional demands caused by cultural differences in expatriate encounters impact negatively on their experience (Tan, Hartel, Panipucci, & Strybosch, 2005). Therefore, emotional maturity may be a major factor, at least when cultural differences are great, in determining if an expatriate will complete a long-term assignment. Emotional maturity or intelligence is defined as "an array of capabilities, competencies, and skills that influence one's ability to cope with environmental demands" (Tan, et. al 2005, p. 9).

Four key factors are cited: emotional appraisal and expression, emotional regulation in self and others, promotion of intellectual and emotional growth, and generation of emotions to assist in problem solving (Salovey & Mayer, 1990; Tan et al., 2005). For example, expatriates who can deal with negative emotions in a positive manner can experience continued job satisfaction in a cross-cultural environment. Further, expatriates with idiocentric personalities (i.e., individualists), who view the environment as unstable and themselves as stable, will experience a higher degree of emotional labor. Also, individualists (regardless of gender) prefer to be frank about their emotions and will fare better in feminine cultures where there is more freedom to express even their feelings of frustration (Hofstede, 1980; Mumby & Putnam, 1992; Ollilainen, 2000). Finally, high status expatriates serving in collectivistic cultures will experience less emotional labor than low status expatriates. A deeper look at the role of emotion in cross-cultural competency implies that multiple intervening variables, including cultural dimensions and individual personality factors, create a more complicated interaction effect.

A similar concept is Cross Cultural Social Intelligence (CCSI). Combining the social intelligence and cross cultural communication literature, Ascalon, Schleicher, and Born (2008) developed a comprehensive situational judgment test. While encompassing emotional intelligence, social intelligence is defined as the "ability to understand the feelings, thoughts, and behavior of persons, including oneself, in interpersonal situations and to act appropriately upon that understanding" (Marlow, 1986, p. 52). Extending that concept, socially intelligent people can adapt their behavior in a wide array of social situations (Cantor & Kihlstrom, 1987). Because social intelligence is specific to a particular culture, it may not be able to explain interpersonal effectiveness across cultures. Finally, empathy and ethnocentrism are assumed as the basis for judgment of CCSI. Three abilities are measured in the test: 1) recognition and understanding of (non)verbal cues of people from multiple cultures; 2) ability to accurately infer social references in multiple cultural encounters; and 3) by accepting and understanding multiple cultures, achieve relevant social objectives across cultural negotiations. CCSI is an example of a systematic, interdisciplinary measurement to integrating and examining cognitive and behavioral dimensions of cross-cultural effectiveness.

Both Shaffer and Harrison (1998) and Liu and Lee (2008) found that job satisfaction contributes to intercultural adjustment. Job satisfaction can be a reflection of good treatment (fairness and respect), emotional health, organizational functioning, benefits, co-workers and bosses, and the work itself. One benefit of job satisfaction is the presence of more cooperative employees who are willing to contribute to the success of the organization. For expatriates, job satisfaction may function as a hygiene factor for the total overseas experience, i.e., the presence of job satisfaction is necessary but insufficient. Low job satisfaction would certainly contribute to an unsuccessful assignment. In fact, Black, Mendenhall, & Oddou (1991) found that job satisfaction is both a predicted outcome of adjustment and is a predictor of cross-cultural adjustment. Organizations need to have policies and practices in place to support job satisfaction.

Black, Mendenhall, & Oddou (1991) found that organizational socialization, the process by which organizations bring new members into their culture, contributes to intercultural adjustment. This process includes being made a group member, being taught how to communicate in context, and how to accomplish objectives. Socialization, when properly enacted, can contribute to career success. Further, socialization of a new member into the group is also a benefit to the group as they "resocialize" and adjust to change that accompanies membership in a new organization culture.

Liu and Lee (2008) argue "expatriates that are better socialized in the host country are likely to adjust more effectively." Like job satisfaction, socialization is a predictor of adjustment. Policies and practice should foster work-related relationships and networks. However, host organizations still give relatively little attention to in-post support (Hutchings, 2002). Toh and DeNisi (2007) applied social identity theory to create a model centered on the role of HCNs' influence on the adjustment of expatriate managers. The model identifies expatriate and HCN characteristics that enhance the prominence of expatriate national identity and outgroup categorization by the HCNs. Further, they identified HCN socializing behaviors that were either displayed or withheld from the expatriate that affected the adjustment. Toh and DeNisi (2007) argue that multinational corporations need to be aware of HCN/expatriate social interactions in the host location. Selmer and DeLeon (1996) focused their research on organizational acculturation. In studying Singaporean managers employed by Swedish companies in Singapore, they found that nationals working in foreign-owned business subsidiaries were able to learn work values from the parent organizational culture. Organizational acculturation may be used as a strategy of cultural control applied by the parent organization.

With regard to non-work in-country adjustment, Pires and Stanton (2000, 2005) question the efficacy of culture immersion strategies. They note that cultural values and norms in the individual typically are not changed by simply living in or learning the language of another culture. They found that those who effectively use social networks with a more similar ethnic community, with which the expatriate can more closely identify, may fare better than those immersed in the mainstream culture. In short, if the expatriate finds similarity with at least one segment of the culture, s/he will use that social network as entry into the new culture. This strategy is made possible by large global migration over the past half century providing potential networks and ties for new arrivals. Hutchings and Murray (2002) argue that support is essential for expatriates to improve coping with cross-cultural and emotional demands of overseas assignments. For example, the Chinese turn to their personal network system, GuanXi, to resolve stress and problems. Westerners entering the Chinese cultural system will lack necessary emotional support without such a network. Hutchings (2002) also reported that few of the Australian expatriates in their study had received in-post support for their families other than medical and shopping facilities. Expatriates should be involved, not only in work-related activities and relationships but also in social activities that involve them and their families in the host national culture and local community (Liu & Lee, 2008).

One model found in the literature that integrates the five in-country adjustment dimensions of the FIA is Liu and Schaffer (2005)'s development of a social capital model for expatriation. Social capital exists in relationships and networks among social actors and is created through exchanges between those actors (Karner, 2000; Bourdieu, 1986). Social capital is both created and maintained through these exchanges (Lin, 2001a; Lin 2001b). Expatriates form social networks and gain resources including, but not limited to, wealth, power, reputation or performance. Performance, for example, can be measured through three dimensions: relational, job, and knowledge transfer. Expatriates also maintain social capital through exchanges in social networks. For example, they maintain their physical and mental health, life satisfaction and general psychological well-being by relying on networks, even those with host country nationals (HCN). Liu and Schaffer (2005) found that opportunity (prospect of gaining access to multiple resources from others) and host country national ability (interpersonal skills and cultural empathy) were forms of social capital that had the greatest influence on expatriate adjustment and performance. Performance (relational, job, and knowledge transfer) was most influenced by network density, depth of relationship with HCNs, norm of reciprocity, and the

HCN's interpersonal skills and cultural empathy. Implications of this research suggest that social capital is maintained and expanded when deep and extensive social networks exist within HCNs. The expatriate's knowledge and skills, job dimensions, understanding of organizational culture, social support, and logistical help are all enhanced through network interaction with HCNs. This may also be true of nonwork dimensions if HCN networks are formed beyond the work place. However, Liu and Lee (2008) point out that it may be difficult for expatriates to rely on HCNs due to language and cultural differences.

Black, Mendenhall, & Oddou (1991) identify three facets of mode and degree of adjustment--the outcome of the total adjustment process. They are work adjustment, interaction adjustment, and general adjustment. Work adjustment, while aided by similarities in parent company policies and procedures, involves the adaptation to new work roles, tasks, and the host environment. This dimension can be measured most easily, not only by perceptions of the expatriate, but through traditional means of performance appraisal. Interaction adjustment, the most difficult of the three, is the degree of comfort an expatriate experiences while communicating with both host country nationals at work and outside of work.

Bartel-Radic (2006) emphasizes that the process of intercultural interaction can be enhanced significantly through participation on international or intercultural teams. Employees can be regularly assigned to work on virtual international teams. Therefore, intercultural interaction plays a major role in intercultural learning. "Interculturation" may take two forms: indirect interaction, for example through the media, and direct interaction as in face to face meetings. According to Bartel-Radic (2006), to foster intercultural interaction and learning, the desire to learn, positive emotion, and a critical reflection on one's own culture, are required. Therefore, measuring the interaction adjustment outcome is more complex than work adjustment. General adjustment is the overall adjustment to living in another country including domestic issues such as housing, shopping, health care, and cost of living. Peltokorpi (2008) found that positive general adjustment is directly related to expatriate language ability and traits of emotional stability and cultural empathy. However, it might be argued that issues such as these will involve the expatriate's spouse and will need to be measured by engaging both spouses.


The Framework of International Adjustment Model has utility for understanding the multifaceted interactive construct and process of overall cross-cultural adjustment. While based upon Black, Mendenhall, & Oddou's (1991)'s FIA, here we argue for a more prescriptive, rather than only descriptive model, to guide both researchers and practitioners (see Figure 2 below for our prescriptive model). Most of the changes to the model are found in the Anticipatory Adjustment Phase where newly assigned expatriates and their parent organizations can influence adjustment.


Beginning with both the Individual and Organization Anticipatory Adjustment dimensions, several enhancements can be made to the model from findings in the literature. Cross-cultural work interaction and effectiveness testing provided by the organization for the individual can determine specific training needs, closing or identifying many deficiencies prior to departure. Testing can provide additional information about the training needs of candidates interacting with organizational responsibilities from Anticipatory Adjustment. While a test or even set of tests should not be used to make a final determination of readiness for an overseas assignment, they may help to identify individuals who are currently ready and those who may need more preparation. A more detailed model should include language and culture-specific training, general cross-cultural training, diversity training, and interpersonal communication and skill training. Previous experience might include assignments to work on international training teams and making short-term visits to the host country prior to a long-term assignment. Therefore, testing should be added to the "Individual Needs" dimension to indicate that testing informs the expatriate and the company about his/her training needs and abilities. For example, testing for cross-cultural social intelligence and intercultural competency inform the individual and company about the expatriate's level of self-efficacy, relation, and perception skills required for in-country adjustment. From a research perspective, we propose that In-Country Adjustment skills can and should be tested during the anticipatory adjustment stage. Therefore, we offer the following research propositions:

Proposition 1: A broad range of relevant testing is positively associated with a candidate's accuracy of perceptions about self and the cross-cultural situation to which they are being assigned.

Proposition 2: A broad range of relevant testing is positively associated with proper selection of relevant customized training.

Proposition 3: Accurate perception of self and the cross-cultural situation to which an expatriate is assigned is positively associated with Anticipatory Adjustment.

Proposition 4: Previous cross-cultural experience is positively related to accurate perception of self and the cross-cultural situation to which an expatriate is assigned.

Proposition 5: The interaction effect of testing, training, and previous experience is positively related to accurate perceptions of self and the cross-cultural situation.

Further, there is a need to connect the "Individual Needs" with "Organization Responsibilities" dimensions, i.e., showing the interaction of responsibilities between expatriate and his/her company. For this reason, the organization dimension must include testing and training as well. The combination of Individual Needs (testing, training, and previous experience) interacting with organizational responsibilities create a more comprehensive and prescriptive model for Anticipatory Adjustment. Moreover, organizational testing and review of past experience provide a partial but significant input to selection of expatriates. Extending testing and training to expatriates' families, especially spouses, may also assist expatriates and companies in preparation and even selection decisions. So, we propose:

Proposition 6: The degree of organization responsibility for providing a broad range of relevant testing is positively associated with Anticipatory Adjustment.

Proposition 7: The degree of organization responsibility for providing a broad range of relevant training is positively associated with Anticipatory Adjustment.

Proposition 8: The degree of organization responsibility for providing relevant cross-cultural experience is positively associated with Anticipatory Adjustment.

Proposition 9: The degree of organization responsibility for providing relevant managerial and/or technical training is positively related to Anticipatory Adjustment.

Proposition 10: The degree to which the organization effectively meets individual needs is positively associated with Anticipatory Adjustment.

The In-Country Adjustment dimension involves five sub-dimensions including individual efficacy, relation, and perception skills, job attributes, organization culture, organizational socialization, and non work factors. This research showed an abundance of studies related to individual skills and a moderate number of studies related to cross-cultural job attributes, organizational socialization/culture, and non work factors. Recommendations of this research are as follows:

Self-efficacy, relation skills, and perception skills are generally good categorical descriptors for individual skills. However, the availability of various models and tests for self efficacy, relational skills and perception skills (including but not limited to intercultural competency, social intelligence and capital) make it possible to pre-test for these skills during the Anticipatory Adjustment stage and post-test for these skills during and after the In-Country Adjustment phase. It should be noted that cross-cultural social intelligence and social capital, in particular, move Black, Mendenhall, & Oddou's (1991) idea of individual skills from solely a trait and behaviorally-focused construct to a more robust social interactive dimension. In short, the latest research identifies the ability to correctly interpret social situations, make positive and accurate judgments, and then effectively interact with others as the units of analysis for study.

Job attributes including role clarity, discretion, novelty, and conflict have been studied extensively in the U.S. However, this review seems to indicate that less research has been conducted on these attributes for expatriates in foreign countries. Job attributes seem to play an important role in In-Country Adjustment. More studies on job attributes, similar to Liu and Lee's (2008) research on Taiwanese expatriates in the U.S., are needed to conclude that job satisfaction and other job factors are significant contributors to expatriate adjustment.

Organization culture and socialization--Organizational socialization refers to acculturation or socialization to a particular organization's culture (Liu & Lee, 2008; Toh & DeNisi, 2007; Selmer & DeLeon, 1996). For this reason, there is an apparent but undefined relationship between organizational socialization and organization culture novelty which should be tested. Black, Mendenhall, & Oddou (1991) argued that socialization must be understood and studied in terms of formal organization tactics and congruent content and the influence of these two dimensions on high or low role innovation. Institutional socialization is associated with low role innovation and a custodial mode of adjustment. Individual socialization (self-socialization) is associated with high role innovation, and, therefore, an innovative mode of adjustment. We will not attempt here to repeat Black et al.'s organizational socialization propositions because they relate to mode of adjustment more than degree of adjustment--our primary focus. Organization culture, as defined by Black et al. (1991), seems to focus on the degree of relative novelty in the host organizational culture compared to the parent culture from which the expatriate comes. The degree of difference in cultures influences the adjustment process. We propose that this construct must be measured in terms of the expatriate's perception of difference. Black et al. (1991) propose that social support within the host organization culture is positively associated with the "degree of international adjustment, especially work adjustment" (p. 310). Black et al. appear to have assumed that social support would be provided by host nationals in the company. Our review of the literature suggests that social support may also come from organizational members who have backgrounds more similar to the expatriate (Pires & Stanton, 2000, 2005). While Pires and Stanton advocate this approach for general adjustment related to non-work purposes, we suggest that binding with individuals or groups from the expatriate's home organization at the host organization, will produce a similar positive adjustment effect. Therefore, we offer the following propositions according to the recommendations:

Proposition 11: Intercultural competency, cross-cultural social intelligence, and social capital are positively associated with the degree of adjustment during the In-Country Adjustment phase.

Proposition 12: The degree of expatriate perception of host organization culture novelty is negatively associated with degree of adjustment, especially work and interaction adjustment.

Proposition 13: Expatriate perception of strong informal social support in the host organization is positively associated with the degree of adjustment, especially work and interaction adjustment.

Proposition 14: The strength of expatriates' relationships with other home organization nationals at the host national organization is positively associated with international adjustment, especially work interaction adjustment.

The degree of logistical support remains important primarily as an influencing factor on non work issues. Therefore, while socialization and culture should be treated as distinct research constructs, they

appear to be closely related and, for the purpose of simplicity, are co-located in revised model.

Non-work is a term that was frequently used throughout the literature. Culture novelty and family-spouse adjustment are indeed significant factors in overall adjustment and success. Therefore, there seems to be support for non work as a distinct and significant construct. High culture novelty is negatively related to international adjustment. High family adjustment is related to employee international adjustment. As mentioned above, Pires and Stanton (2005) argue that expatriates who seek, find, and embrace home nationals living in the same host national community, are better able to adjust to culture novelty.

Degree of adjustment (work, interaction, and general adjustment are the central outcomes of this model and the most useful for future research and guiding practitioners. To strengthen this model, this construct needs to direct researchers and practitioners toward strong measures of expatriate success including, for example, 360 degree adjustment evaluations with parent and host national company supervisors and subordinates. Further, objectives measures that take into account completion of the overseas assignment by the expatriate and spouse/family are needed. Failure of family adjustment may lead to expatriate failure. Therefore, we propose the followings:

Proposition 15: The strength of the expatriate's affiliation with home country nationals living in the host culture is positively associated with international adjustment, especially general adjustment.

Proposition 16: The strength of the expatriate's family's affiliation with home country nationals living in the host culture is positively associated with the family's international adjustment.

Proposition 17: Adjustment evaluations, as measured by parent and host supervisors and peers, are positively associated with international adjustment, especially work adjustment.

Proposition 18: Family/spouse adjustment is positively associated with expatriate adjustment.

Proposition 19: Expatriate completion of the assignment (remaining for scheduled stay) is positively associated with international adjustment.

Proposition 20: Family/spouse completion of the assignment (remaining for the scheduled stay) is positively associated with international adjustment.

In the end, the majority of overseas assignments appear to foster professional and personal growth opportunities for the expatriate, family, and company. However, the toll that the overseas assignments have on some individuals or families who lack the inherent or learned attitudes, knowledge and skills for the rigors of the long-term cross-cultural experience, is a reasonable concern. Failure can be damaging to individuals, their families, their careers, their companies and even diplomatic relations between countries.


This paper provides an extended model of Black, Mendenhall, & Oddou's. (1991) FIA which has been a useful, integrative, and comprehensive model for understanding cross-cultural adaptation in the international organizational context. While we update a recent literature review as well as measurements for the FIA, we believe our extended model would provide better a framework for the adjustment process. The following are some recommendations for future research using the model:

1) Individual cross-cultural effectiveness testing is a key component of the extended model proposed in this research. Both the Intercultural Competency Scale (ICS) designed by Elmer (1986) and Cross-Cultural Social Intelligence (CCSI) developed by Ascalon, Schleicher, and Born (2008) are measurements that could be used to determine pre-departure preparedness and adjustment and progress throughout the overseas assignment. A pre-test followed by periodic measures of effectiveness would be useful in further testing the synthesis of the Anticipatory Adjustment and In-Country Adjustment portions of the model. In addition to reliability testing for both instruments, correlations between the two measurements may provide insights into the comparative robustness of the more trait/behavioral instrument (ICS) and the CCSI which assesses subjects' judgments of social interactions. 2) A second research focus is to compare outcomes (Degree of Adjustment) of expatriates who have received various types and degrees of pre-departure training and who have had various degrees of previous cross-cultural

experience. Work, interaction, and general adjustment outcomes may be measured through a combination of post-test scores, completion of the overseas assignment, and 360 evaluations of expatriate performance. Interaction effects among testing, training and previous experience should also be measured. 3) Determining degrees of expatriate In-Country development with regard to social capital, identity, and acculturation is necessary. The interaction effect among Individual, Job, Organizational Culture/Socialization, and Non-Work dimensions should be a primary focus of future research. Instruments need to be identified or, in some cases, developed.


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David Strubler, Kettering University

Sung-Hee Park, Kettering University

Atul Agarwal, University of Illinois at Springfield
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Author:Strubler, David; Park, Sung-Hee; Agarwal, Atul
Publication:Journal of International Business Research
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Date:Jul 1, 2011
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