The JGM BitBlog: How you define yourself really matters - A new perspective on female expatriate adjustment

Journal of Global Mobility

Lu Yu, Missouri State University, Springfield, USA

Hong Ren, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, Milwaukee, USA

The question of how female expatriates adjust to foreign cultures and perform in their jobs has become an increasingly important area for organizational research. Previous research on female expatriation has highlighted the critical role of gender and explained female expatriate experiences from the perspectives of gender role stereotyping, but only a small number of studies have explained female expatriation from an identity perspective. Among the existing studies, female expatriates’ identities are always viewed in a hierarchical pattern, with only one identity being evoked by the contextual cues, while other identities being suppressed when not evoked. However, can female expatriates’ multiple identities co-exist at the same time? If yes, how would they interplay to influence their work adjustment?

To answer these questions, this study adopts an identity cluster perspective to explain female expatriates’ work adjustment. Specifically, it proposes that female expatriates’ expatriate, manager, and occupational role identities share a closer link than gender role identity. Since the three role identities are always activated or peripherally activated in the work domain, they are categorized into the work-related role identity cluster. In contrast, the degree of salience of the female gender role identity varies with the situation. This study further analyzes the organizational and national contexts in which female expatriates’ gender identity and work-related role identity cluster interplay to influence female expatriates’ work adjustment.

This study provides a new perspective to explain female expatriates’ work adjustment. Practical implications are also included at the end of the paper.

To read the full article, please see the Journal of Global Mobility publication:

Yu, L. and Ren, H. (2021), "An identity conflict perspective on female expatriate work adjustment", Journal of Global Mobility, Vol. 9 No. 3, pp. 408-433.