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A model of the dark side of expatriate–host country national relationships

Jasenko Ljubica (Department of Management, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation)
Margaret Shaffer (Price College of Business, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma, USA)
Sabrina Tin (Department of Human Resources, Asia Sony Music Entertainment Hong Kong, Hong Kong)
Kevin McKouen (Sheldon B. Lubar School of Business, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA)

Journal of Global Mobility

ISSN: 2049-8799

Article publication date: 28 June 2019

Issue publication date: 23 July 2019




The purpose of this paper is to develop a nomological model of the dark side of expatriate–host country national (HCN) relationships by identifying and explaining the development and the types of expatriate–HCN disruptive relationship behaviors (DRBs), their antecedents and consequences.


The authors conducted semi-structured interviews (n=27) with both expatriates and HCNs, focusing on DRBs that they exhibit toward each other, the factors preceding them (antecedents) and the mechanisms through which they affect the relationship between expatriates and HCNs, as well as the outcomes of such behaviors.


The findings show that relational dysfunction emanates from multilevel differences between expatriates and HCNs, and these differences induce workplace conflicts. These conflicts increase relational (emotional, social, instrumental and opportunity) costs that render both dyadic members to evaluate their relationship and socially categorize each other negatively, thus, detaching from the relationship. This detachment then leads to disruptive relational behaviors that amplify the conflicts and detachment dynamics and worsen interpersonal and intergroup dynamics, ultimately resulting in relational breakdown.

Research limitations/implications

This study possesses methodological (e.g. relatively small number of interviewees) and conceptual (e.g. high degree of comprehensiveness) limitations. However, these offer implications for further research as they open a multitude of promising research avenues that could enhance the proposed model.


This is the first study the authors are aware of that focuses on discovering and explaining the nomological network of the dark side of expatriate–HCN relationships. The use of interdependence theory to understand cross-cultural relationships is novel. As such, it delivers theoretical and empirical contributions and fosters further research efforts.



This paper forms part of a special section “The dark side of global mobility”.


Ljubica, J., Shaffer, M., Tin, S. and McKouen, K. (2019), "A model of the dark side of expatriate–host country national relationships", Journal of Global Mobility, Vol. 7 No. 2, pp. 137-156.



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