The Sojourner's Truth: Exploring Bicultural Identity as a Predictor of Assignment Success in American Expatriates

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Title: The Sojourner's Truth: Exploring Bicultural Identity as a Predictor of Assignment Success in American Expatriates
Author: Moore, Ti'eshia Marie
Advisors: Brad Mehlenbacher, Committee Chair
Susan Bracken, Committee Member
Jason Allaire, Committee Member
Audrey Jaegar, Committee Member
Abstract: This study explores the bicultural identity of current American expatriates and the relationship between that identity and assignment completion. Biculturalism is defined as the psychological and emotional transition into dual competency, allegiance, and personal identification with the home and host societies. By expanding the cultural identification frameworks utilized in existing models, the study estimates whether and to what degree assignment completion are influenced by an expatriate’s ability to both adapt and maintain cultural identifications while living and working abroad . Using an online survey to assess levels of cultural adaptation, identification, support, and stress, the study places respondents into one of four quadrants of bicultural identity based on the Acculturation Index (Berry, Kim, Power, Young, & Bujaki, 1989; Ward & Rana-Deuba, 1999). The strength of the relationship and influence between the quadrant placement and assignment completion is then examined. Using a four quadrant model of cultural identity, bicultural identity is explored through a logistic regression model. Assignment success, measured as the intention of the expatriate to remain in the assignment for as long as originally stipulated, produced a quasi-separation of data. Subsequent analyses using sociocultural adaptation as the criterion variable found host country identity, organizational support, cultural distance, and service-related assignments as significant predictors of sociocultural adaptation. In turn, adaptation significantly predicted assignment success and organizational commitment. Greater difficulties in adaptation resulted in a 5% reduction in likelihood for assignment success. Ultimately, sociocultural adaptation and support from the sending organization have the most dramatic effects on assignment success. Organizational commitment and identity are investigated in greater detail. Results of the study indicate that expatriates on business or educational assignments are more likely to remain with the sending agency over those on service, non-profit, or religious ones. In addition, expatriates experiencing greater difficulty concerning bureaucracy, authority, and unsatisfactory service or people, were less likely to remain with the sending organization. The study contends that individual and organizational variables interact to influence adaptation, identity, and organizational outcomes. Likewise, the relationship between individual and organizational identity is proposed. The quadrants of cultural identification: bicultural, separation, assimilation, and marginalization are analyzed. Bicultural individuals were able to maintain home ties, while simultaneously adopting new ones, and were the best adapted in the analytic sample. There was support for previous findings that separated expatriates maintained high home and organizational allegiance, while assimilated individuals displayed the weakest organizational allegiance (Black, Gregersen, & Mendenhall, 1992). Marginal expatiates had the greatest difficulty in sociocultural adaptation and felt the least support from the sending agency. The implications for organizations and individual expatriates within the quadrant are discussed. Based on these findings, the study presents suggestions for future research as well as recommendations for organizations involved in expatriation.
Date: 2009-04-21
Degree: EdD
Discipline: Adult and Community College Education
URI: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/resolver/1840.16/3912


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