How host-country nationals manage the demands of hosting expatriates: An exploratory field study

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Global Mobility, 2020, 8, (1), pp. 25-54
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© 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited. Purpose: Using job demands-resources (JD-R) theory as a conceptual apparatus, the purpose of this paper is to report an empirical exploration of the experiences of host-country national (HCN) employees when their organization hosts an expatriate assignment. Design/methodology/approach: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 23 Vietnamese HCNs who had vast experience hosting multiple self-initiated expatriates with organizational development objectives. Findings: The study reveals previously hidden costs associated with locals’ support for expatriates, including a range of extra-role demands and more complex and stressful interpersonal interactions. These demands exceeded the current intercultural capabilities of many respondents, and while offset to some extent by their positive pre-arrival attitudes and culture-specific knowledge, led to sometimes counterproductive coping responses such as withdrawal behaviors. Research limitations/implications: The study extends the JD-R framework by explicating which demands and resources are pertinent to HCNs, and how these activate particular coping strategies. The cultural context of Vietnam, as both a setting for the workplace interactions and imbued in the values and assumptions of respondents, limits the study’s transferability. Practical implications: The findings provide guideposts for organizations in ways to offset HCNs’ hindrance demands (e.g. matching demands to current capabilities) and to encourage the use of productive coping strategies via, for instance, anticipating and mitigating potential challenges. Originality/value: The study’s insights go some way toward articulating more fully the richness and complexity of HCNs’ experiences, and a more rounded perspective of the costs and benefits inherent in international work assignments.
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