Demystifying the relationship between intercultural adjustment and effectiveness in international assignments: Reflections on Japanese expatriate managers
Intercultural adjustment has been considered a determinant factor of expatriates’ success on international assignments and the model of international adjustment of Black et al. (1991) has been the main reference for empirical research and practical recommendations in the academic literature on expatriation. According to this model, intercultural adjustment is a multidimensional construct that involves three dimensions: work (the new job requirements), interaction (relationships with host people), and general (foreign culture and living conditions), and if the expatriate does not achieve intercultural adjustment, failure – characterized by a premature return – is most likely. However, a literature review shows that the Japanese expatriates, taken as examples of success in international assignments due to their lowest failure rates in the world, do not seem to be concerned with achieving the interaction and general dimensions of adjustment. This apparent contradiction and some possible explanations for the Japanese “case” are presented in this chapter.