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Essays on new and traditional forms of expatriation: temporality, self and adjustment
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 10:18 authored by Heidi Wechtler
Adjustment to a new cultural environment, the extent of psychological comfort to this new cultural and work-related environment, often named as one of the key challenges in this process, is by nature a time-related concept as it takes time and effort for expatriates to go through the experience of entering a new cultural environment. Three main topics of the expatriation literature that have attracted little attention are explored, that is, emotions, aspirations and time, to understand expatriate adjustment. Also three main factors, gender, age, and conditions of expatriation are integrated to refine the analyses. Altogether, I attempt to re-examine several aspects of expatriate adjustment with an event and subjective time perspective. Therefore, the main research question addressed in this thesis is how time and under-analyzed personal attributes influence the experience of expatriation. This thesis consists of six interrelated essays, combining quantitative, qualitative, and systematic approaches, that attempt to bring new insights into the experience of expatriation from different angles: first the self and subjective dimension with emotions and aspirations, and moderated by expatriates' demographics (gender and age) and different forms of expatriation (self-initiated and assigned); and second, the temporal dimension, in gradually integrating time to the self dimension. Taken together the essays show that emotional intelligence is not as favorable for women as it is for men in the process of adjustment, while socio-emotional selectivity theory brings new insights into the role of age in the relationship between emotions and adjustment. Person-environment fit theory allows to better understand of how career identity relates to adjustment. Yet, the search for authenticity dominates the notion of career in the adjustment process in the particular case of young female self-initiated expatriates. Expatriation reflects a transitional experience in ways such that the expatriate moves his/her frame of reference from monocultural to intercultural. Age, gender and type of expatriation (lifespan perspective, career continuum and new generation of expatriates) appear as important conditions to delimit time assumptions and understanding of expatriate adjustment over time.