On Becoming Bicultural - A Taxonomy of Expatriate Cultural Identity

Organisation Studies

Speaker:Ling Eleanor Zhang, Hanken School of Economics
Date: Wednesday 18 February 2015
Time: 14:00 - 16:00
Location: Building One: Pearson Teaching Room

Further details


Global workforce pattern is changing rapidly as a result of the increased diversity resulting from unprecedented levels of international migration. Although a growing number of expatriates have more than one cultural profile, very little is known about how monocultural expatriates become bicultural. The nascent literature on biculturalism in management studies has not addressed the cultural schema and identity formation of bicultural individuals especially among those biculturals, who have internalised a new cultural schema in their adult years. Drawing upon a grounded theory study involving 50 in-depth interviews as well as observations with expatriates and their host country colleagues in 16 multinational corporations’ subsidiaries, this study proposes a taxonomy of expatriate cultural identity consisting of monocultural, bicultural, cosmopolitan and transitional expatriates. Characteristics of each group are discussed in terms of organisational context, host country language and network orientation, and identification with home, host and third culture. Practical implications for the selection and training of global leaders across cultural boundaries are also addressed.