Academic journal article International Journal of Business and Society

Cultural Intelligence and Expatriate Performance in Global Assignment: The Mediating Role of Adjustment

Academic journal article International Journal of Business and Society

Cultural Intelligence and Expatriate Performance in Global Assignment: The Mediating Role of Adjustment

Article excerpt


This paper investigates the relationship between cultural intelligence and job performance, and the mediating role of cross-cultural adjustment in that relationship. Based on sample of 332 expatriates working in Malaysia, cultural intelligence predicts job performance, and both the interaction and work adjustment mediates the relationship. The findings of this study contributes to the body of knowledge in the cross-cultural management field as well as practical implication to expatriating firms especially in the area of selection and training of international candidates.

Keywords: Cultural Intelligence, Cross-Cultural Adjustment, Job Performance


Globalization and liberalization of trade and services in many part of the world has created an opportunity for multinational corporations (MNCs) to operate in diverse geographical environments (Maertz, Hassan & Magnusson, 2009). This effort requires presence of globally competent workforce, and with it, the intensive use of expatriates (Froese & Peltokorpi, 2011). Expatriates identified as sojourner who leaves his or her country, under assignment, for business purpose, with the intent of eventual return (Aycan & Kanungo, 1997). Many MNCs acknowledged that the effectiveness of expatriates on international assignments is an important source of competitive advantage for them (Zhang & Dodgson, 2007). Some of the advantages that companies can gain from sending their employees abroad are establishing new international markets, spreading and sustaining corporate culture, facilitating organizational coordination and control, and transferring of technology, knowledge and skills (Huang, Chi & Lawler, 2005; Shay & Tracey, 2009).

Research on determining factors of expatriate effectiveness recently found that cultural intelligence (CQ) is a vital intercultural competency contributing to expatriate success on the international assignments (Ang et al., 2007). The concept of CQ represents an individual's capability for successful adaptation to new and unfamiliar cultural settings and ability to function easily and effectively in situations characterized by cultural diversity (Earley & Ang, 2003; Ang et al., 2007). It involves openness to experience and a capability to deal effectively with culturally diverse situations (Ang, Van Dyne & Koh, 2006). Cultural intelligence is a theoretical extension of existing facet models anchored on the theory of multiple intelligences (Gardner, 1993). Cultural intelligence, however, is distinct from other forms of non-academic intelligence, including social intelligence and emotional intelligence, in that CQ requires the ability to switch from one national cultural environment to another (Earley & Ang, 2003; Brislin, Worthley, & MacNab, 2006; Thomas, 2006). There is evidence that CQ is a vital intercultural competency that can predict attitudes and behaviors of individuals working on international assignments (Alon & Higgins, 2005).

Cultural intelligence is a multidimensional construct consist of meta-cognitive, cognitive, motivational, and behavioral component (Earley & Ang, 2003). First of these, the metacognitive CQ defined as one's knowledge or control over cognitions that leads to deep information processing relating to culture (Ang, Van Dyne, Koh, & Ng, 2004). It consists of the cognitive strategies that used to acquire and generate coping strategies (Ng & Earley, 2006). Ang et al. (2004) further stated that meta-cognitive CQ is the individuals' cultural conscious and awareness, and is thus manifest in the ability to question cultural assumptions. Relevant capabilities include planning, monitoring, and revising mental models of cultural norms for countries or groups of people (Ang et al., 2007).

The cognitive cultural intelligence reflects knowledge of the norms, practices and conventions in different cultures gained from both the experience and formal education, those universal as well as culture-specific (Ang et al. …

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