The effect of cross-cultural training on expatriates’ adjustment: Evidence from an emerging African economy

John O. Okpara (Department of Management and International Business Zeigler College of Business, Bloomsburg University, Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, USA)
Jean D. Kabongo (College of Business, University of South Florida, Sarasota, Florida, USA)

Journal of Management Development

ISSN: 0262-1711

Publication date: 9 October 2017

Abstract

Purpose

One of the most important issues multinational corporations (MNCs) face in their global operations is expatriate failure. It is estimated that between 10 and 80 percent of expatriates sent on overseas assignments return home early. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the impact of cross-cultural training (CCT) on different facets of expatriate managers’ adjustment in Nigeria.

Design/methodology/approach

A sample of 212 western expatriate managers working in Nigeria was surveyed. Respondents were selected from four cities where they had been working for at least one year.

Findings

The main finding of this study was that expatriates’ adjustment could be predicted from different types of CCT. The findings of this research confirm the view expressed by researchers over the last two decades that both conventional and specific experimental CCT have positive effect on the facets of cross-cultural adjustment.

Research limitations/implications

Given that the authors did not collect their data over time, the cross-sectional nature of the design limits them from making definitive causal statements. In the future, more resources and efforts could be applied to safeguard larger samples of respondents, thus potentially resulting in better statistical power. A longitudinal approach could be used; such an approach may have generated a richer data source, where different patterns of adjustment could have been identified and compared over time. Data for the study were collected through questionnaire, thus any observed relations might be due in part to common method effects. Since the data were collected from four cities, there may be some concern as to the generalizability of the findings to expatriates working in other cities in Nigeria.

Practical implications

MNCs should pay more attention to CCT and management development. Ineffective CCT and management development have an adverse impact on MNCs’ effectiveness. Developing CCT programs could add value to corporations and employees especially employees who are destined for foreign assignments. In addition, developing CCT for expatriates’ spouses and children would facilitate adjustment process and may reduce failure rate.

Originality/value

Once corroborated by further studies, this exploratory research may contribute to the understanding of the adjustment of western expatriates in Nigeria. Few, if any, prior studies, have examined CCT and expatriate adjustment in Nigeria.

Keywords

Citation

Okpara, J.O. and Kabongo, J.D. (2017), "The effect of cross-cultural training on expatriates’ adjustment: Evidence from an emerging African economy", Journal of Management Development, Vol. 36 No. 9, pp. 1114-1124. https://doi.org/10.1108/JMD-09-2016-0166

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Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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