The JGM BitBlog: A Dynamic Multi-Stage Model - How Conflicts between Expatriates and HCNs Emerge and Evolve

Journal of Global Mobility

Longzhu Dong, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Eau Claire, USA
Hong Ren, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, Milwaukee, USA
Tingting He, Governors State University, University Park, USA

How does the level of conflict between assigned expatriates and host country nationals (HCNs) emerge and evolve during the acculturation process over time? Conflicts are inherently dynamic, since their determinant, the process of social categorization is dynamic. Understanding this dynamic process helps anyone and any firm that may involve in potential conflicts between expatriates and HCNs. In a culturally diverse environment, conflicts are likely to occur, and a conceptual model about conflicts in the acculturation process particularly may help the firms and the employees. Such a model also contributes to diversity literature, conflict literature, and expatriate literature. 

In our proposed conceptual model about how conflicts between expatriates and HCNs emerge and evolve in the acculturation process, there are three essential stages: First, conflicts emerge from surface-levels differences; second, conflicts emerge from deep-level differences; and third, conflicts emerge from the “updated” deep-level differences. On the first arrival to the host country, expatriates and HCNs may expect high-level relationship conflict if they perceive high surface-level social category differences; and may experience high-level task conflict if they perceive high surface-level informational differences. As the relationships between expatriates and HCNs develop, the level of both types of conflict which emerge at stage 1 is not likely to stay static. As an expatriate and an HCN know each other more, they may find the deep-level characteristics and surface-level characteristics of the other person in congruence, or incongruence, and accordingly, the dynamics of relationship conflict and task conflict may change further. After the two-way process of acculturation, expatriates who adopt the separation acculturation strategy will experience more relationship and task conflict than they do in Stage 2, whereas expatriates who adopt the integration and assimilation acculturation strategy will experience less relationship and task conflict than they do in Stage 2. 

Therefore, in our model, Stages 1 and 2 describe the process of how the bases for social categorization change through the social interaction between expatriates and HCNs over time (from surface-level characteristics at Stage 1 to deep-level characteristics at Stage 2), and in turn influence the level of conflict in this dyad. Stage 3 describes how the bases for social categorization change again because of the acculturation process.

To read the full article, please see the Journal of Global Mobility publication:
Dong, L., Ren, H. and He, T. (2022), "Conflicts between expatriates and host country nationals during the acculturation process", Journal of Global Mobility, Vol. 10 No. 4, pp. 515-529.