The JGM BitBlog: Expatriate-HCN interactions in stressful environments – Can resource perceptions make a difference? 


Carol Reade, Lucas College of Business, San José State University, USA 

Mark McKenna, Lucas College of Business, San José State University, USA 


Multinational enterprises depend for their success on the collaborative efforts of their expatriate and HCN employees. In stressful, high-risk environments such as a pandemic, what promotes cohesiveness and collaboration among these culturally diverse colleagues? This is a relevant question given that the management literature points to a tendency for reduced contact and engagement among culturally-different others in high-risk contexts. Insights from evolutionary anthropology indicate that when faced with potential harm, human beings adopt a self-protective or collaborative survival strategy depending on available resources. In stressful environments, and notably in the context of the current pandemic, it is critical to understand the resource conditions conducive to cohesion or division among expatriates and HCNs.  


Our conceptual paper develops a typology of interaction adjustment modes from the standpoint of both expatriates and HCNs, based on Berry’s acculturation model and developed with conservation of resources theory. For many employees, the pandemic depleted personal resources such as mental resilience, prompting organizations to provide contextual resources such as flexible work arrangements to help employees manage stress. We propose that expatriate and HCN perceptions of the adequacy of contextual resources shape their choice of interaction adjustment mode. Given that tensions inevitably arise in stressful situations, specifically around the allocation of scarce or inadequate resources, we further extend Berry’s model with problem-solving approaches from the conflict management literature. We propose that an Integration adjustment mode characterized by perceptions of adequate contextual resources and collaborative problem solving fosters cohesion among culturally diverse colleagues and is most beneficial for the organization and its employees in the context of a pandemic, while a Separation mode characterized by perceptions of inadequate contextual resources and competitive problem solving is proposed to foster division.  


By attending to the adequacy of contextual resources in their subsidiary operations, multinational enterprises have an opportunity to promote collaboration and employee wellbeing in stressful, high-risk environments.   


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


Reade, C. and McKenna, M. (2022), "Pandemic stress and the role of resources in expatriate–local interaction adjustment: an extension of Berry’s model", Journal of Global Mobility, Vol. 10 No. 2, pp. 265-285. 

Best regards,


Professor Jan Selmer, Ph.D.
Founding Editor-in-Chief

Journal of Global Mobility (JGM)

Department of Management, Aarhus University

Latest Book: McNulty, Y. & Selmer J. (Eds.) (2017), Research Handbook of Expatriates. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar. Electronic version

New Article:  Selmer, J., Dickmann, M., Froese, F.J., Lauring, J., Reiche, B.S. and Shaffer, M. (2022), "The potential of virtual global mobility: implications for practice and future research", Journal of Global Mobility. Download
New Article:  Stoermer, S., Selmer, J., & Lauring, J. (2021), "Expatriate Partners’ Personality and its Influence on Acculturation into a New Cultural Context: Examining the Role of Dispositional Affectivity“, International Journal of Cross Cultural Management. Download
New Article:  Stoermer, S., Lauring, J., & Selmer, J. (2020), “The Effects of Positive Affectivity on Expatriate Creativity and Perceived Performance: What is the Role of Perceived Cultural Novelty?”, International Journal of Intercultural Relations. Download
New Article:   Stoermer, S., Lauring, J. & Selmer, J. (2020), “Job Characteristics and Perceived Cultural Novelty: Exploring the Consequences for Expatriate Academics' Job Satisfaction", International Journal of Human Resource Managament. Download

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