Expatriate contact with a local host: An intervention to increase social support

Marian van Bakel, Jan Pieter van Oudenhoven, Marinel Gerritsen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Social capital is a crucial factor for expatriates to employ as they
cope with the demands of an international assignment. This longitudinal
study used a mixed method approach to examine the
social support benefits of expatriate contact with a local host.
Western expatriates in the Netherlands were randomly divided
into two groups: an experimental group (n = 33), that had contact
with a Dutch host during 9 months, and a control group (n = 32)
with no host. Qualitative methods such as interviews and diaries
were included to shed light on the various types of social support
that occurred. Results show that local hosts offered all four types
of social support: social companionship, informational support,
emotional support, and instrumental support. Furthermore,
expatriates with a host increased their social capital; they received
significantly more social support from host nationals than did
those without a host. This study shows that HRD professionals
may develop the social capital of expatriates by bringing them
into contact with a local host, which can produce more social
support from host nationals. Increased social capital may lead to
a higher performance at both the individual and organisational
Original languageEnglish
JournalHuman Resource Development International
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)215-235
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Expatriate-local interactions
  • host nationals
  • local host
  • social capital
  • social support
  • HRD intervention


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