Adapting to a Boundaryless World: A Developmental Expatriate Model

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EXECUTIVES -- Health, EMPLOYMENT in foreign countries -- Psychological aspects, EXPATRIATION, JOB stress, MENTAL health, IDENTITY (Psychology), AFFILIATION (Psychology), HEALTH, WORK environment -- Psychological aspects, GLOBALIZATION -- Social aspects, EXECUTIVE ability (Management), WORK -- Psychological aspects

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Expatriate executives face a double-edged challenge to their mental and physical health: The stressors affecting them are not only new and unfamiliar, but the coping responses that worked at home may not do so abroad. The various stages involved in a successful adjustment are discussed. The executive's ability to identify with the host and the parent culture plays a critical role in every stage of the adjustment process. Failure to accept that the two cultural identities are not mutually exclusive is a source of internal conflict among expatriates. Cross-cultural competence training and a sensible repatriation plan help buffer the stressors encountered abroad. However, the willingness and courage to undergo the profound personal transformation associated with an international assignment are essential for a healthy expatriate adjustment, even after the expatriate's return. Learning to live with the paradox of dual identification is an essential coping mechanism for expatriate executives.

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Academy of Management Perspectives, v. 14, issue 2, p. 96-106