A framework and typology of adjustment responses to extra-cultural disorientation experienced during intercultural assignments

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Abstract

The psychological mobility required in global work assignments creates an exigency for psychological adjustment. The new framework presented in this paper conceptualizes adjustment as a person's efforts to adapt to episodes of disorientation encountered when working in intercultural contexts. Specifically, individuals experience “extra-cultural” disorientation when they lack interpretive frames during episodes of cross-cultural interaction, and this disorientation triggers the psychological adjustment process. Adjustment responses will vary along a continuum between applying one's own familiar cultural patterns and learning from new situational cues during interactions with others. Individual adaptation theory offers a generalizable model for understanding adjustment, and four key elements of individual adaptation (managing stress, learning and sense-making, organizing behavioral routines, and negotiating personal versus organizational demands) mirror recurring themes in the cross-cultural management literature. A typology of adjustment responses is offered to illustrate a person's psychological state after responding to one or more extra-culturally disorienting episodes. Adjustment responses may be integrated into behavioral routines, mindsets, and identities, and different types of responses may facilitate different roles or work assignments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)227-241
Number of pages15
JournalHuman Resource Management Review
Volume26
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Applied Psychology

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