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Dispositional factors, coping and stress as predictors of expatriates' adjustment, performance and desire to terminate the assignment
Van der Bank, Marita
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The increase in globalisation has led many organisations world-wide and in South African to send more employees on international assignments than ever before, with every indication that the use of expatriates will continue to expand into the 21st century. Expatriate assignments are important to the success of multinational companies because they can help build the level of global competence within the organisation, and expatriates often fill critical positions in host countries (e.g. new market development, technology transfer, joint venture negotiations and subsidiary management). Given the strategic importance multinational companies attach to global assignments, the harm an unsuccessful expatriate may cause in the host country can be detrimental to the multinational company's future global business. Implications of poor expatriate cross-cultural adjustment include inadequate performance, psychological stress, premature termination of the assignment, negative effects on the expatriates' families and the long-term career repercussions upon repatriation after failed expatriate assignments. Thus, in order to remain competitive in today's global marketplace, multinational companies have recognised that the attraction, selection, development and retention of employees who can live and work effectively outside their own national borders are crucial to their success. This study proposed that personality dispositions, coping, stress and expatriates' motivation for accepting the assignment can predict three criteria of expatriate success, namely (a) the desire to terminate the assignment, (b) performance, and (c) the cross-cultural adjustment of expatriates. The study population consisted of 95 expatriates from eight multi-national organisations. The research method for each of the three articles consists of a brief literature review and an empirical study. A cross-sectional survey design was used to achieve the research objectives. Descriptive statistics ( e g means, standard deviations, skewness and kurtosis) were used to analyse the data. Cronbach alpha coefficients and exploratory factor analysis were used to assess the reliability and validity of the measuring instruments, and multiple regression analyses was conducted to determine the percentage of the variance in the dependent variables that is predicted by the independent variables. The Neo-Personality Inventory Revised, Work Locus of Control Scale, Expatriate Stress Inventory, a biographical questionnaire, which included expatriates' motivation for accepting the assignment (independent variables) and expatriates' cross-cultural adjustment. their desire to terminate the assignment and their performance (dependent variables) were administered. The results showed that external locus of control is related to avoidance. Avoidance coping of expatriates' was best predicted by an external locus of control and approach coping of expatriates' was best predicted by an internal locus of control. The results showed that expatriates' desire to terminate the assignment is related to their cross-cultural adjustment and that personality dimensions are related to their cross-cultural adjustment and their desire to terminate the assignment. Personality dimensions explained 12% of the variance in expatriates' cross-cultural adjustment. Assertiveness and cross-cultural adjustment explained 17% of expatriates' desire to terminate the assignment. The results showed that cultural stress explained 17% of the variance in expatriates' cross-cultural adjustment. Assertiveness and cross-cultural adjustment explained 28% of expatriates' desire to terminate the assignment and extrinsic motivation explained 20% of expatriates' performance. Recommendations are made regarding future research and practical implications for expatriate management.