Academic journal article Journal of International Business Research

Revisiting Black, Mendenhall, and Oddou (1991)'S Framework for International Adjustment Model: A Prescriptive Approach

Academic journal article Journal of International Business Research

Revisiting Black, Mendenhall, and Oddou (1991)'S Framework for International Adjustment Model: A Prescriptive Approach

Article excerpt

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.

INTRODUCTION

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. …

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