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The expatriate‘s spouse: an influential factor on international assignment success: An in-depth spouse perspective on adjustment issues, organizational support and the relationship

Deen, Maaike (2011) The expatriate‘s spouse: an influential factor on international assignment success: An in-depth spouse perspective on adjustment issues, organizational support and the relationship.

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Abstract:An MNC has to deal with potential risks when sending out an expatriate since the expatriate is considered to be a primary stakeholder in affecting the achievement of organizational goals. An important determinant of international assignment success refers to expatriate adjustment. The lack of support systems particularly for the spouse makes the frequency and the interaction between expatriates and spouses greater. Due to these intensified spillover and crossover effects, an important influential factor of the expatriate‘s adjustment is the accompanying spouse. Despite the importance of the spouse and their influence on international assignment success having been acknowledged in expatriate literature from the 1980‘s onwards, there has been little support for the investigation exclusively into the spouse topic. In most cases, researchers have focused on spouse adjustment. Despite the fact that organizational support is found to be one of the determinants of spouse adjustment, little knowledge was found about the extent to which the organization acts to provide for the wellbeing of spouses to make the adjustment process easier. Based on this knowledge, the present thesis devotes attention to the topic of the accompanying spouse with a focus on in-depth knowledge with reference to spouse adjustment issues, organizational support nowadays and the extent of the relationship between organizational support and adjustment issues. The present thesis used a mixed methodology-design. An explorative and inductive preliminary research is conducted for which seventeen Dutch expatriate spouses that were based in multiple countries were interviewed. Conversational interviews were used to generate in-depth knowledge about positive and negative adjustment issues and suitable and lacking organizational support experiences. Data analysis is conducted with the use of several analysis methods like meaning condensation, meaning categorization and correlation analysis. The preliminary research generated in-depth knowledge about spouse adjustment issues and organizational support experiences. It was particularly noticed that the support provision differs extensively per organization. Based on the findings of the preliminary research, a deductive research was conducted to find implications for the extent of the relationship between organizational support and adjustment issues. For this research, mainly statistical research methods were used. The study is limited because of the sample size. It is also not possible to draw any conclusions with respect to cause and effect because of the use of correlation tests. In conclusion, the adjustment process of spouses is partly influenced by organizational support. However, other influencing variables like personal characteristics and the situational context seem to be important as well. Organizational support is implied to be most influential with reference to the negative adjustment issues in the first six months in the host country. Particularly negative knowledge, skills and affect related adjustment issues are assumed to be influential through organization support. The organizational support provision before the journey seems to be most influential to early-stage adjustment issues. However, suitable and lacking organizational support in the first six months is found to be important too. Two statements of spouses highlight the core of the present thesis research topic: ―The success of an assignment is among other things depending on how the company treats the accompanying spouse. You see, if I am satisfied and enjoy my time, my husband is also satisfied, that‘s how things work. When I feel good, he can do his work more effectively because he does not have to worry about his wife being home alone feeling miserable‖ ―I don‘t think the success of an expat assignment depends on the support of the organization. There are certain pre-conditions the organization has to take care of, but I think that success is more influenced by the spouse‘s personality and mindset than what can be influenced by the company‖
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:85 business administration, organizational science
Programme:Business Administration MSc (60644)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/61526
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