Whenemployees of organizations are sent abroad in order to conduct an internationalassignment, most of the expatriates do not have knowledge how to appropriatelybehave within the host culture (Black & Mendenhall, 1990). Thereforeindividuals, who are entering a new culture, environment and working conditionsneed a period of learning about countries business and social norms before apersonal adaption and work productivity can occur (Black & Mendenhall, 1991).
Thisadjustment process can be divided into several stages, which are oftenillustrated in a U-Curve (Figure 2). The U-Curve should describe thecross-cultural adjustment process of an expatriate employee within a host culture(Black & Mendenhall, 1991) and was originallydeveloped by Lysgaard 1996 (Ward, et al., 1998).TheU-Curve cross-cultural adjustment illustrates four stages, which the expatriatewill experience during his/ her assignment.
Inthe honeymoon phase the expatriate recently arrived in the new country and everythingis interesting and exciting (Thomas & Peterson, 2016). Within this stagethe individual feels more like a tourist than like a citizen in the foreigncountry. He/ she is fascinated by the new culture and explores new “sightsand sounds” (Black & Mendenhall, 1991). After a few months,the feeling of excitement is diminishing and the cultural shock occurs. At the disillusionmentstage the expatriate realizes the absence of existing familiar surroundings,traditions and behaviors. The individual must actively handle to live in thenew culture (Black & Mendenhall, 1991). The stage ischaracterized by emotions like frustration and confusion against the host country.During the adjustment-phase the expatriate begins to realize the culturaldifferences and adapts to new values and norms of the host country.
Finally,the expatriate might reach the mastery phase where he/ she might be able toeffectively function in the new culture, almost as well as in the home country.Not all expatriates are able to achieve the mastery, as some of them returnback home earlier or they even finalize the assignment but were not able toadjust to the process throughout the period abroad (Thomas & Peterson, 2016). 3.3 The extension bythe W-Curve modelWhenlooking at the cross-cultural exchange experiences, researchers now recognizethat the U-curve of international assignments is only a part of the wholescenario.
Oberg (1960)supports the approach of the U-curve model, however Church (1982), by reviewing several studies,concluded that the empirical evidence supporting the U-curve is weak, asreadjustment challenges exist over a wide range.TheU-curve was adapted and expanded by Gullahorn and Gullahorn (1963) who developeda W-Curve (Figure 3), which more appropriately describes the individual reactionwhen returning to his/ her home cultures.Correspondingto Gullahorn and Gullahorn (1963), the repatriation phase can be divided into 4stages: Honeymoon at home, Crisis at Home (re-entry shock), Recovery at Homeand Adjustment at Home.Firstof all, many studies argue that the repatriation needs to be carefully managed,as it represents new challenges for the individuals (Paik, et al., 2002). Many individuals alter duringthe period abroad and it might seem to them that the home country also changed (Linehan & Scullion, 2002).Therefore, the preparation of coming home becomes an initial aspect of there-entry.
Expatriates should prepare their return by keeping contact with friendsand colleagues of the home country throughout the whole assignment (Ashamalla, 1998).During the Preparation-phase it becomes important that they adjust theirexpectations and keep the expectations realistic. The individual probablyexpects difficulties upon arrival in the foreign country, also the familyrelatives and friends might assume this process to be difficult. Anyhow thedelegated person itself as well as others are unlikely to expect difficultieswhen re-entering the home country, as the environment and people are familiar (Martin, 1984). Whenthe expatriate employee finally returns back home, the so-called honeymoon athome-phase begins. This stage can be seen as the reverse honeymoon-phase. Theindividual recognizes that he/ she missed family and friends, is excited aboutcoming home and sharing his/ her stories.
They finally say goodbye to newfriends they have made and the culture they have enjoyed (Ting-Toomey, 2012). Similar to theexpatriation process the honeymoon as well as the reverse honeymoon stage isonly of short length, as soon as the re-entry shock begins (Gullahorn, et al., 1963). The excitement ofcoming home fades away and a feeling of not being someone special anymorebrushes out. The individual realizes his/ her role as a local and faceschallenges to re-establish routine in the daily life.
The most significantfeeling during the reverse cultural shock is feeling like a stranger in the owncountry (Wagner & Magistrale, 1995, p. 141). Corresponding to Ting-Toomey (2012),the reverse cultural shock becomes more intense the greater the home cultureand the foreign culture differ in “cultural values” and”communication dimensions”. In work-related issues the expatriate doesnot feel valued for his/ her foreign experience and supposes to have lessresponsibilities (Allen & Alvarez, 1998).
Similar to theexpatriation process, at some point the individual adjusts to the culture andpositive emotions occur, until the final stage, where he/ she can completelyadapt, arrives. Others are never able to “fit back” into their homecultures again. Those might be called the alienators (Ting-Toomey, 2012).
When and to what extent the adaption is achieved depends on personal issues ofeach individual (Gupta, 2013).The adaption, resembling to the one in the host country, deals with acceptingand living traditional values and behaviors and feeling home in the own countryagain (Gullahorn, et al., 1963). 3.4 Importance of ExpatriationTheever-increasing globalization evolves several challenges and adjustments for organizations.
Due to global investments and mergers, organizations need to find an internationalexposure to stay competitive. Consequently, international organizations todayconduct economic activity abroad (Scullion & Brewster, 2001). Therefore, the needof employees that are willing to work worldwide has increased. According toWebb (1996), living and working in a foreign business area provides the mosteffective way to achieve international experiences. Moreover, the multinationaldevelopment within organizations constitutes new tasks and challenges likelearning about operations of different countries, filling skill gaps throughoutthe globe and transfer knowledge. These expansions in the global reach and thecontinuous change has increased the interest for expatriation management (Black & Gregerson, 1999).
Referred to a studyby Scheible, expatriation becomes highly relevant for delegated employees inorder to share experiences, transfer knowledge and to evolve “a commoninternational identity” (Scheible, 2015). 3.4 Problem Statement of Expatriation Dueto the globalization and the increased expansion of markets reaching across theworld, international companies need to make use of expatriation in order toexploit the global market of qualified expertise. Anyhow, the figures revealdissatisfying percentages on the success of expatriation.
“Empirical studiesover a considerable period suggest that expatriate failure is a significant andpersistent problem with rates ranging between 25 and 40 percent in thedeveloped countries and as high as 70 percent in the case of developingcountries” (Mendenhall & Oddou, 1985; Harzing, 1995) as well as Blackand Gregersen claim that 20-50% of expatriates return precipitate, within ayear of beginning their global assignment (Stroh & Gregersen & Black,2000; Stroh & Gregersen & Black, 1998; Harzing, 1995). A singledelegated employee demand for a high investment. According to Black andGregersen (1999), one package for an expatriate employee, including benefitsand living costs, is estimated by 300.
000 thousand till 1 million dollarsannually. As companies spending two or three times more on expatriates thanhaving the same employee working in the home country, the success rates ofassignments should be stabilized (Black & Gregerson, 1999). Important factorsto establish a successful expatriation process are the continuous support bythe company concerning accommodation or taxation, an early plan for careergoals and advancements as well as a transparent recruiting process (Scheible, 2015).