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Children of expatriates: key factors affecting their adjustment

Isabel de Sivatte (Department of Human Resources and Organizational Behavior, IE Business School, IE University , Madrid, Spain)
Bernadette Bullinger (Department of Human Resources and Organizational Behavior, IE Business School, IE University , Madrid, Spain)
Miguel Cañamero (Department of Human Resources and Organizational Behavior, IE Business School, IE University , Madrid, Spain)
Mónica del Pino Martel Gomez (Department of Human Resources and Organizational Behavior, IE Business School, IE University , Madrid, Spain)

Journal of Global Mobility

ISSN: 2049-8799

Article publication date: 14 June 2019

Issue publication date: 23 July 2019

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to study the antecedents of the adjustment of expatriate children to foreign destinations. This process of adjustment is partly explained by the transformation of their identities while abroad.

Design/methodology/approach

This research used a mixed method approach. First, to identify the factors that affect expatriate children’s adjustment, 36 interviews were conducted. An ad hoc survey was then developed, distributed and analyzed, in order to determine the factors that really help or inhibit the adjustment of expatriate children.

Findings

Expatriate children adapt quite well, and they are mostly interested in fitting in with other children, whether locals or other internationals. Some relevant factors found to relate to adjustment were children’s social skills, their academic self-efficacy, the academic level of the school in the host country and the support received from their families.

Practical implications

Companies could use the results of this study in their cross-cultural training of expatriates traveling with families.

Originality/value

This is the first study to examine a rather comprehensive set of factors that affect the adjustment of expatriate children, using a mixed methods approach.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The 2018 EURAM Research Grant funded this research. The authors thank Margaret Shaffer, Mina Westman and the participants of the 2018 IHRM conference (Madrid) for their comments on previous drafts.

Citation

de Sivatte, I., Bullinger, B., Cañamero, M. and Martel Gomez, M.d.P. (2019), "Children of expatriates: key factors affecting their adjustment", Journal of Global Mobility, Vol. 7 No. 2, pp. 213-236. https://doi.org/10.1108/JGM-11-2018-0058

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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