The qualitative study examines the development of purposely created interpersonal relationships in an intercultural context. Contact with a local host is a way of helping expatriates deal with the challenges of an international assignment. Since the quality of contact with the host is pivotal to benefit most from this experience, the purpose of this paper is to examine which factors influence contact quality.
The authors conducted a case study analysis of 33 expatriates and ten accompanying partners who were put in touch with a local host, with whom they undertook a broad range of activities during a period of nine months.
Nine factors influenced the development of the contact (similarities, motivation, benefits, anxiety, expectations, busy schedules, suboptimal timing, communication breakdown, and cultural differences). Key factors were similarities, motivation, and benefits.
While some of the factors (e.g. similarities) are predictable according to the Social Penetration Theory, four factors were uniquely applicable to purposely created relationships such as contact with a local host: motivation, expectations, anxiety, and suboptimal timing.
The study provides suggestions that could stimulate the contact with a local host, making the intervention more valuable for organisations who wish to support their expatriates in this way.
This longitudinal study is one of the first to examine in detail the process of development of purposely created interpersonal relationships in an intercultural context. Furthermore, the study is new because it also examines unsuccessful relationships.
van Bakel, M., van Oudenhoven, J.P. and Gerritsen, M. (2015), "Developing a high quality intercultural relationship: expatriates and their local host", Journal of Global Mobility, Vol. 3 No. 1, pp. 25-45. https://doi.org/10.1108/JGM-04-2014-0009
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