A study of factors affecting the performance of expatriates working for multinational companies in China

Jiang, Jinglin

June 2019

Thesis or dissertation

© 2019 Jinglin Jiang. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

When multinational companies (MNCs) expand globally, they send their employees to work in foreign subsidiaries as expatriates, and these expatriates potentially provide a competitive edge for their success in a global marketplace. Previous researches have studied the challenges, such as language, culture, family characteristics, and adjustment, faced by expatriates. This research expands on these studies by seeking a deeper understanding of adaptation that enhances expatriates’ adaptive performance in China using both quantitative research and qualitative research. Specifically, this research examines factors that can influence the adaptive performance of expatriates in China, including cultural intelligence, learning flexibility, ethnocentrism, cultural distance, and international work experience.

Data were collected in subsidiaries of MNCs in China. Quantitative research is the predominant research method adopted and questionnaires were collected from 224 expatriates who are currently working in subsidiaries of MNCs in China but 175 returned questionnaires were actually suitable for data analysis. The results of the regression analysis demonstrate the positive relationship among expatriates’ adaptation, cultural intelligence, cultural distance and adaptive performance in China; in addition, the negative relationship among expatriates’ ethnocentrism, adaptation and adaptive performance in China; however, there is no relationship between expatriates’ learning flexibility and adaptation, cultural intelligence, cultural distance and adaptive performance in China. Furthermore, ten qualitative interviews were included to play a supplementary role in this study to highlight the positive relationship among expatriates international work experience, adaptation, and adaptive performance in China. The results of this study contribute to the understanding of the factors that influence expatriate adaptive performance in China, and the findings of this study can offer valuable insight for multinational companies in terms of their selection and development of international talents.

Business School, The University of Hull
Scullion, Hugh; Hoyland, Thomas
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