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Inpatriates' adjustment to home country headquarters: a social/cultural conundrum

Wallace A. Williams (Department of Management, School of Business Administration, University of Mississippi, Oxford, Mississippi, USA)
Miriam Moeller (Department of Management, School of Business Administration, University of Mississippi, Oxford, Mississippi, USA Bond University, Gold Coast, Australia)
Michael Harvey (Department of Management, School of Business Administration, University of Mississippi, Oxford, Mississippi, USA Bond University, Gold Coast, Australia)

Leadership & Organization Development Journal

ISSN: 0143-7739

Article publication date: 6 February 2010

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine Trompenaars' cultural dimensions using reference point theory to propose the adjustment difficulties that inpatriates will experience when entering the home market/global headquarters organization culture.

Design/methodology/approach

Specifically, it examines means by which the organization may maintain the inpatriate's perspective while at the same time provide training/development to assist in integrating the inpatriate manager into the global management team.

Findings

The paper proposes that the inpatriate's origin plays a significant part in determining the difficulty of adjusting to the headquarter culture as well as to the general culture of the new home country. The need for reference points (internal, external and time) becomes vital in that each allows for a better understanding of the adjustment process.

Research limitations/implications

With regard to the two variables (macro and organizational culture) examined, it should be noted that cultural distance is not of sole importance in the adjustment process of the inpatriate. Additional factors to consider include job type, previous experience in home country of the organization, local support groups and other socialization tactics.

Practical implications

To facilitate the cross‐cultural adjustment process, active attempts by human resource management staff must be undertaken to help ensure adjustment. Successful adjustment would allow inpatriates to provide valuable insight and contribute to the global organizations' success.

Originality/value

This paper adds value by providing a theoretically based framework for the adjustment of inpatriates that can be tested and modified by future researchers. Furthermore, it provides a guide to inpatriate adjustment so that their maximum value to the organization can be achieved.

Keywords

Citation

Williams, W.A., Moeller, M. and Harvey, M. (2010), "Inpatriates' adjustment to home country headquarters: a social/cultural conundrum", Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 31 No. 1, pp. 71-93. https://doi.org/10.1108/01437731011010399

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited