Global families : families' experiences of moving cross-culturally within a global corporation
MetadataShow full item record
Employees and their families, who are relocated internationally by globally expanding corporations, need assistance and support to make successful cross-cultural transitions. Estimates of the early-return rate of U.S. corporate employees are 30-40% (e.g., Black, 1996; Harvey, 1989, Tung, 1987). Although this high early-return rate is often attributed to unsuccessful adjustment on the part of the employee’s spouse and family to the new culture, most cross-cultural adjustment research has focused only on the effects of international relocation on the employees. This study has explored effects of corporate international relocation policies on the adjustment process of families within one corporation. In-depth interviews were conducted with six families − husbands, wives, and children twelve years of age and older− in which participants discussed their experiences during the pre-departure, arrival, stay, and return stages of an international move. Key findings that emerged from the study include: (1) the effects on the family of an international assignment begin the moment the company offers an international assignment to the employee and continues well beyond the family’s return to the United States; (2) since company policies affect the family greatly, an international assignment intensifies the psychological contract between the family and the corporation; (3) families need different types of social support during different stages of their move; (4) direct corporate policies, such as the timing of the offer, the expected acceptance, the move of the employee to the work site, the narrowed corporate communication channels for the family, and the types of support offered affects the family; (5) indirect policies, such as the employee's long work hours, lack of recognition of the adjustment process, and natural support networks' availability to family members affect their adjustment. The corporation could ease the family adjustment process by acknowledging the psychological aspects of families' relocation. This study highlights the importance of different types of support families needed for successful adjustment to a new culture during the different stages of the move. In addition, this study underscores the importance of relationships to successful relocation adjustment. Global corporations can provide support and information that can help employee families adjust cross-culturally.