Enhancing Social Integration and Work Performance: The Role of Expatriates’ Significant Other

  •  Marlin Abdul Malek    
  •  Abd Rahim Jaguli    
  •  Mohd Rizal Palil    


International assignments remain a crucial aspect of multinational corporations’ global strategy, even with their high costs. While multinational corporations (MNCs) must consider the advantages and disadvantages of hiring local employees for specific roles, expatriates’ roles are still significant. Culturally adjusting to the local environment has always been a problem for most expatriates and their accompanying family members. Failing to adjust culturally will lead to mediocre performance and under-utilising the wealth of host country-related information that only locals possess. Therefore, this research highlights the influential role that accompanying expatriate spouses could play in ensuring the smooth communication and cooperation between expatriates and their local subordinates and the local community. Path analyses of 134 expatriate and spouse related matched datasets show that spouses are more positively accepted by the host country nationals (HCNs) as opposed to expatriates. New relationships emerged from the path analyses which indicated the influential roles that spouses play in establishing better rapport with the locals. As such it is suggested that spouses are the ‘missing link’ that could foster better social integration and cross cultural communication and adjustment between expatriates and the host country nationals. Theoretical and managerial implications are subsequently discussed and future research suggestions are then put forth.

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