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Mutual adjustment processes in international teams: lessons for the study of expatriation

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2007
<mark>Journal</mark>International Studies of Management and Organization
Issue number3
Volume37
Number of pages23
Pages (from-to)65-88
<mark>State</mark>Published
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

Researchers have commonly regarded expatriate adjustment as a unidirectional process of one individual adjusting to a foreign environment. In contrast, we conceptualize the expatriate's adjustment to social interactions as part of a process of mutual adjustment within an international team. Eleven teams of four combinations of nationalities—German—English, German—Indian, German—Japanese, and German—Austrian—were examined in two German companies in a one-year longitudinal study. In-depth interviews and team observations were conducted with 116 participants. We developed a model that captures the mechanisms of mutual adjustment at the level of cognitive processes, attitudes, and behaviors of team members. We also explain how these internal adjustment components are influenced by a number of external context factors. These factors are seen to create power relationships between the members of the different nationalities in the team. This has a major influence on the direction of adjustment. Implications for models of adjustment and forms of capital accrued by global leaders are discussed.