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Cultural humility and low ethnocentrism as facilitators of expatriate performance

Paula Caligiuri (Department of International Business and Strategy, Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA)
Nataliya Baytalskaya (Caliper Corporation, Princeton, New Jersey USA)
Mila B Lazarova (Beedie School of Business, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada)

Journal of Global Mobility

ISSN: 2049-8799

Article publication date: 14 March 2016




For decades, expatriate scholars have understood that the individual factors of cultural humility and ethnocentrism and the contextual factors of feedback and support affect expatriates’ outcomes. The study, rooted in the observation that great advice and support are often ignored by expatriates, seeks to uncover why. Based in the humility literature, the authors test whether individual differences interact with support to affect expatriate performance. The paper aims to discuss these issues.


The authors surveyed a matched sample of 62 expatriates and their supervisors from one multinational organization.


The study found that expatriates higher in cultural humility benefit more from the support and feedback offered in the host national work environment which, in turn, facilitates better supervisor ratings of performance. The authors also found that expatriates’ ethnocentrism has a direct negative influence on their ratings of performance.

Research limitations/implications

The findings in the study are focussed and robust, but tested within a single organization. That said, the authors believe the results have implications for expatriate selection and for ways to manage the host national environment to improve expatriate performance.


The study joins the research conversation on how expatriates’ individual differences interact with the environments in which they are placed to affect their success. This study also underscores the importance of humility in the global professional context.



This research was undertaken, in part, thanks to funding from the Canada Research Chairs program.


Caligiuri, P., Baytalskaya, N. and Lazarova, M.B. (2016), "Cultural humility and low ethnocentrism as facilitators of expatriate performance", Journal of Global Mobility, Vol. 4 No. 1, pp. 4-17.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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