The role of language in expatriate professionals’ work-life balance

Parth Patel, Akanksha Jaiswal, Daicy Vaz, Ziyun Ma, Vijay Edward Pereira, Arup Varma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Expatriates are an integral part of international human resources, enabling multinational corporations to implement and execute strategy. Yet, the issues related to adjustment of the expatriate and his/her family in a new culture can severely impact the MNC’s ability to do business. Among the most complex issues related to adjustment in a new country is the issue of language since it is the major currency of communication. We contribute to the above research agenda by attempting to research this area and aim to plug these gaps. More specifically, we utilize social networking and linguistic relativity as two key and relevant theoretical lenses to identify and examine the key dimensions of expatriate adjustment. To do so, we conducted structured interviews with 20 Indian expatriates (both academics and corporate professionals) in several countries around the world (both English speaking and non-English speaking). This rich data was analyzed using the robust Gioia et al., (2012) methodology. Our findings revealed that factors like (i) pre-exposure to the culture and language, (ii) social networks, (iii) linguistic relativity, and (iv) coping mechanisms played a key role in the expatriate and his/her family’s adjustment. Overall, we discuss theoretical and practical implications and offer suggestions for future research.


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