A grounded theory approach to creating a new model for understanding cultural adaptation of families in international assignments

by Bowser, Bessie R., Ph.D., CAPELLA UNIVERSITY, 2015, 164 pages; 3718617


The primary focus of this qualitative grounded theory study was the reasons for the ability or inability of expatriate workers and their families to adjust and adapt to foreign cultures. The goal for this study was to investigate experiences of the whole expatriate family unit, including the children, to identify factors that could contribute to a successful expatriation assignment as well as develop a theory or model that could be used to help guide the success of the expatriate family tour time and decrease expatriate workers‘ failure to complete their assignments. The qualitative grounded theory method was used to analyze the whole of each expatriate family unit‘s experiences; however, hermeneutic phenomenology as theory was integrated into the study to get to the deeper meanings of families‘ actions, responses, memorabilia shared, and body language as stories were told in conversations and in response to open-ended questions. Seven family units participated in this study, for a total of 23 participants, to include children from age 7 (with parents‘ approval), and contributed to the findings of three main themes, a concept of an expatriation adaptation model, and a list of factors that are essential to global expatriation processes. The theoretical framework that guided the study consisted of family systems theory and cultural leadership theory constructs. The findings resulted from a triangulated data collection process to include questionnaire, one-on-one interviews, and group interviews. The three main themes that developed were 360-degree support, the power of knowledge, and expatriate children as future expatriates and expatriate leaders. The results also resulted in the development of an expatriation adaptation process model as well as a list of factors that could contribute to a successful expatriation assignment with the whole expatriate family unit, which would keep all family members together for the expatriation experience.

AdviserJanet E. Salmons
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsCultural anthropology; Philosophy; Management; Organization theory
Publication Number3718617

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