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Emotional intelligence as predictor of cultural adjustment for success in global assignments

Racheli Shmueli Gabel (Esan‐ESADE, Barcelona, Spain)
Shimon L. Dolan (ESADE Business School, Barcelona, Spain)
Jean Luc Cerdin (ESSEC, Paris, France)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Article publication date: 1 August 2005




The purpose of this paper is to present a new framework for assessing the human resource strategy for international assignment (IA) of managers.


The approach posits the construct of emotional intelligence (EI) as a critical predictor for intercultural adjustment thereby leading to success. A theoretical model and the respective preliminary empirical test of a series of hypotheses pertaining to the relationships between several dimensions of EI, their impact on cross‐cultural adjustment and success of international managers overseas assignments, is presented. Analyses is based on cross sectional data of 67 cases (based on questionnaires), and on 39 cases with rectangular data where both supervisory input and questionnaires were used.


A significant correlation was found between the interpersonal emotional component and specific performance. Thus the capacities of empathy, social responsibility and social relations may predict better performance in the specific characters of IA. Moreover, the correlation between EI and adjustment dimensions showed significantly higher correlations; while cultural adjustment is not correlated with any EI dimensions, interaction fit correlates with all the EI dimensions except for stress management; adjustment at the work place was only correlated with intrapersonal emotional component. The correlation between adjustment variables and success variables shows that cultural adjustment is positively correlated with satisfaction among global managers. Adjustment at work correlates negatively with the wish to terminate the assignment. In other words, those who adjust less well to work show greater interest in terminating their assignment.

Research limitations/implications

Findings are based on the self‐reported questionnaires and should be treated with caution due to the possibilities of “method‐variance”. The findings are based on a small sample of international assigned managers operating within the Latin American theatre.

Practical implications

It is proposed that EI assessment be used in the selection of internationally assigned managers, in addition to the traditional selection criteria in order to improve the predictive ness of the assignee success.


The use of soft skills rather than hard skills as part of the selection decision of expatriates or any other internationally assigned professionals was long debated. In this study, for the first time, EI scores were used to predict cultural adjustment and subsequence success for managers.



Shmueli Gabel, R., Dolan, S.L. and Luc Cerdin, J. (2005), "Emotional intelligence as predictor of cultural adjustment for success in global assignments", Career Development International, Vol. 10 No. 5, pp. 375-395.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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