Impact of a local host on the intercultural competence of expatriates

Marian van Bakel, Marinel Gerritsen, Jan Pieter van Oudenhoven

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    Intercultural competence is an essential asset for those who live abroad or who work with people from different cultural backgrounds. This longitudinal study examines the impact of contact with a local host on five attitudinal and behavioural aspects of intercultural competence. Sixty-five 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. The Multicultural Personality Questionnaire was filled in at baseline and again after 9 months. A local host buffered a decrease in both attitudinal (Open-mindedness) and behavioural (Social Initiative) aspects of intercultural competence; although, in the case of Open-mindedness, this decrease was only buffered for expatriates with a partner. No effect was found for Cultural Empathy, Flexibility or Emotional Stability. The article concludes by discussing the various merits of contact with a local host as compared with cross-cultural training.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalInternational Journal of Human Resource Management
    Issue number14
    Pages (from-to)2050-2067
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


    • buddy scheme
    • expatriate supporting practices
    • intercultural competence
    • local host
    • Multicultural Personality Questionnaire
    • Open-mindedness
    • Social Initiative


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