When
employees of organizations are sent abroad in order to conduct an international
assignment, most of the expatriates do not have knowledge how to appropriately
behave within the host culture (Black & Mendenhall, 1990). Therefore
individuals, who are entering a new culture, environment and working conditions
need a period of learning about countries business and social norms before a
personal adaption and work productivity can occur (Black & Mendenhall, 1991).

This
adjustment process can be divided into several stages, which are often
illustrated in a U-Curve (Figure 2). The U-Curve should describe the
cross-cultural adjustment process of an expatriate employee within a host culture
(Black & Mendenhall, 1991) and was originally
developed by Lysgaard 1996 (Ward, et al., 1998).

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The
U-Curve cross-cultural adjustment illustrates four stages, which the expatriate
will experience during his/ her assignment.

In
the honeymoon phase the expatriate recently arrived in the new country and everything
is interesting and exciting (Thomas & Peterson, 2016). Within this stage
the individual feels more like a tourist than like a citizen in the foreign
country. He/ she is fascinated by the new culture and explores new “sights
and sounds” (Black & Mendenhall, 1991). After a few months,
the feeling of excitement is diminishing and the cultural shock occurs. At the disillusionment
stage the expatriate realizes the absence of existing familiar surroundings,
traditions and behaviors. The individual must actively handle to live in the
new culture (Black & Mendenhall, 1991). The stage is
characterized by emotions like frustration and confusion against the host country.
During the adjustment-phase the expatriate begins to realize the cultural
differences 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 to
effectively 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 return
back home earlier or they even finalize the assignment but were not able to
adjust to the process throughout the period abroad (Thomas & Peterson, 2016).

  3.3 The extension by
the W-Curve model

When
looking at the cross-cultural exchange experiences, researchers now recognize
that the U-curve of international assignments is only a part of the whole
scenario. 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, as
readjustment challenges exist over a wide range.

The
U-curve was adapted and expanded by Gullahorn and Gullahorn (1963) who developed
a W-Curve (Figure 3), which more appropriately describes the individual reaction
when returning to his/ her home cultures.

Corresponding
to Gullahorn and Gullahorn (1963), the repatriation phase can be divided into 4
stages: Honeymoon at home, Crisis at Home (re-entry shock), Recovery at Home
and Adjustment at Home.

First
of 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 during
the 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 the
re-entry. Expatriates should prepare their return by keeping contact with friends
and colleagues of the home country throughout the whole assignment (Ashamalla,
1998).
During the Preparation-phase it becomes important that they adjust their
expectations and keep the expectations realistic. The individual probably
expects difficulties upon arrival in the foreign country, also the family
relatives and friends might assume this process to be difficult. Anyhow the
delegated person itself as well as others are unlikely to expect difficulties
when re-entering the home country, as the environment and people are familiar (Martin, 1984).

When
the expatriate employee finally returns back home, the so-called honeymoon at
home-phase begins. This stage can be seen as the reverse honeymoon-phase. The
individual recognizes that he/ she missed family and friends, is excited about
coming home and sharing his/ her stories. They finally say goodbye to new
friends they have made and the culture they have enjoyed (Ting-Toomey, 2012). Similar to the
expatriation process the honeymoon as well as the reverse honeymoon stage is
only of short length, as soon as the re-entry shock begins (Gullahorn, et al., 1963). The excitement of
coming home fades away and a feeling of not being someone special anymore
brushes out. The individual realizes his/ her role as a local and faces
challenges to re-establish routine in the daily life. The most significant
feeling during the reverse cultural shock is feeling like a stranger in the own
country (Wagner &
Magistrale, 1995, p. 141). Corresponding to Ting-Toomey (2012),
the reverse cultural shock becomes more intense the greater the home culture
and the foreign culture differ in “cultural values” and
“communication dimensions”. In work-related issues the expatriate does
not feel valued for his/ her foreign experience and supposes to have less
responsibilities (Allen & Alvarez, 1998). Similar to the
expatriation process, at some point the individual adjusts to the culture and
positive emotions occur, until the final stage, where he/ she can completely
adapt, arrives. Others are never able to “fit back” into their home
cultures again. Those might be called the alienators (Ting-Toomey,
2012).
When and to what extent the adaption is achieved depends on personal issues of
each individual (Gupta, 2013).
The adaption, resembling to the one in the host country, deals with accepting
and living traditional values and behaviors and feeling home in the own country
again  (Gullahorn, et al., 1963).

  3.4 Importance of Expatriation

The
ever-increasing globalization evolves several challenges and adjustments for organizations.
Due to global investments and mergers, organizations need to find an international
exposure to stay competitive. Consequently, international organizations today
conduct economic activity abroad (Scullion & Brewster, 2001). Therefore, the need
of employees that are willing to work worldwide has increased. According to
Webb (1996), living and working in a foreign business area provides the most
effective way to achieve international experiences. Moreover, the multinational
development within organizations constitutes new tasks and challenges like
learning about operations of different countries, filling skill gaps throughout
the globe and transfer knowledge. These expansions in the global reach and the
continuous change has increased the interest for expatriation management (Black & Gregerson, 1999). Referred to a study
by Scheible, expatriation becomes highly relevant for delegated employees in
order to share experiences, transfer knowledge and to evolve “a common
international identity” (Scheible, 2015).

  3.4 Problem Statement of Expatriation 

Due
to the globalization and the increased expansion of markets reaching across the
world, international companies need to make use of expatriation in order to
exploit the global market of qualified expertise. Anyhow, the figures reveal
dissatisfying percentages on the success of expatriation. “Empirical studies
over a considerable period suggest that expatriate failure is a significant and
persistent problem with rates ranging between 25 and 40 percent in the
developed countries and as high as 70 percent in the case of developing
countries” (Mendenhall & Oddou, 1985; Harzing, 1995) as well as Black
and Gregersen claim that 20-50% of expatriates return precipitate, within a
year of beginning their global assignment (Stroh & Gregersen & Black,
2000; Stroh & Gregersen & Black, 1998; Harzing, 1995). A single
delegated employee demand for a high investment. According to Black and
Gregersen (1999), one package for an expatriate employee, including benefits
and living costs, is estimated by 300.000 thousand till 1 million dollars
annually. As companies spending two or three times more on expatriates than
having the same employee working in the home country, the success rates of
assignments should be stabilized (Black & Gregerson, 1999). Important factors
to establish a successful expatriation process are the continuous support by
the company concerning accommodation or taxation, an early plan for career
goals and advancements as well as a transparent recruiting process (Scheible,
2015).