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The expatriate family: an international perspective

Arno Haslberger (Webster University Vienna, Vienna, Austria, and Ashridge Business School, Berkhamsted, UK)
Chris Brewster (University of Reading Business School, Reading, UK)

Journal of Managerial Psychology

ISSN: 0268-3946

Article publication date: 28 March 2008




This paper seeks to review and explore the relatively neglected notion of the adjustment of expatriate families to living abroad with the aim of developing a new model that can be used for future research.


The paper draws on the few studies of the topic that have been carried out, but widens the search to include evidence from the related adjustment and family stress literature to create a new model of the process. Using the ideas of stressors, strains and hassles, capabilities, and shared meanings, the paper examines the situation of the expatriate family and explores how families can adjust to life in another country.


By adopting a salutogenic approach and incorporating insights from these other literatures, the paper shows that family adaptation is a complex and many‐faceted process. It is a process that greater awareness on the part of the family and the organization can improve.

Research limitations/implications

With the help of the model of family adjustment the paper points to systematic gaps in studies on expatriate families and outlines a consequent research agenda.

Practical implications

Awareness is a crucial element in adjustment. The paper shows that awareness by the family can alleviate problems, and that organizations employing members of the family can assist in the adjustment process for the family.


The contribution of the paper comes in its attempt to encompass what is known about expatriate family adaptation directly with a wider view of family adjustment. This provides both a practical framework for future research and some practical implications.



Haslberger, A. and Brewster, C. (2008), "The expatriate family: an international perspective", Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 23 No. 3, pp. 324-346.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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