An investigation of the relationship between cultural competence and expatriate job performance
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This dissertation investigates whether cultural competence, defined as a person?s ability to interact effectively with others from a different cultural background or in a cross-cultural setting, predicts expatriate adjustment and job performance more effectively than other individual-level predictors such as personality and local language proficiency. Rather than simply focusing on the predictive validity of cultural competence, this study also explores a process model that could explain the link between cultural competence and expatriate job performance by proposing a mediating variable of cross-cultural adjustment. Lastly, in a more integrated way, this study examines how the relationship between expatriate adjustment and job performance may be better understood by two potential moderating variables: conscientiousness and expatriate assignment nature. For testing the proposed hypotheses, expatriates in a Fortune 500 company were invited to participate in a web-based survey. Responses about their international assignment experience were obtained from 338 expatriates located in 43 countries, and their supervisors. A set of multiple regression analyses were conducted and three major findings emerged. First, the analyses confirmed the important role of some individual difference such as conscientiousness and local language proficiency in expatriate assignment effectiveness, consistent with the literature. Second, the results showed the unique roles of some cultural competence dimensions in predicting expatriate adjustment and job performance, beyond the effects of other important individual-level variables. Lastly, the results also demonstrated a process model of the effect of motivational cultural competence on expatriate job performance: motivational cultural competence works through work adjustment to influence expatriate job performance. Taken together, these findings provide more comprehensive knowledge about whether and how certain individual differences are related more effectively to expatriate assignment effectiveness. In practical terms, this research has implications regarding expatriate selection and development, in order to improve the chances of success in international assignments.