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The influence of expatriate spouses’ coping strategies on expatriate and spouse adjustment: An interdependence perspective

Yu-Ping Chen (Department of Management, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada)
Margaret Shaffer (Division of Management & International Business, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma, USA)

Journal of Global Mobility

ISSN: 2049-8799

Article publication date: 5 March 2018

Issue publication date: 21 March 2018




Drawing upon Folkman and Lazarus’ (1984) coping framework and interdependence theory (Thibaut and Kelley, 1959), the purpose of this paper is to investigate how expatriate spouses’ coping strategies (problem-focused and emotion-focused) affect expatriate spouse adjustment and expatriate adjustment. In addition, the authors also examine the mediating effect of expatriate adjustment on the spouse coping strategies-spouse adjustment relationship.


To test these relationships, the authors collected multi-source data from 191 expatriate spouses and their expatriate partners living in 37 countries.


The results revealed that problem- and emotion-focused coping strategies positively and negatively, respectively, influenced all types of spouse adjustment: personal, interaction, and cultural. Both forms of spouse coping also influenced expatriate adjustment. The authors also found that expatriate adjustment mediated the relationship between expatriate spouses’ coping strategies and spouse adjustment.

Practical implications

The results suggest that multinational organizations should pay equal attention to the adjustment of both their expatriates and their spouses. Both expatriates and their spouses should be included in the initial selection process and in pre-departure training to get well equipped before the international assignment. Training spouses to adopt problem-focused coping strategies would help to facilitate the effective adjustment of both spouses and expatriates.


The research provides one of the first examinations that investigate expatriate spouses’ coping strategies and their impact on expatriate and expatriate spouse adjustment. This research also highlights the interdependency of expatriates and their spouses.



Chen, Y.-P. and Shaffer, M. (2018), "The influence of expatriate spouses’ coping strategies on expatriate and spouse adjustment: An interdependence perspective", Journal of Global Mobility, Vol. 6 No. 1, pp. 20-39.



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