Expatriates facing culture shock and reverse culture shock

Dorota Simpson


It can be assumed that globalization, leading to the unification and assimilation of many processes which take place in the world economy, technology, and culture will transform the contemporary world into a global village, and thus the problem of cultural differences will be marginalized. If the easiness of acquisition and transmission of information via Internet as well as fast and cheap movement of people offered by economic airlines are taken into account, it can be concluded that the discussion about culture shock and reverse culture shock experienced by expatriates is unjustified. However, in practice, the phenomenon of culture shock still occurs, and its course and scope depends on expatriate’s personality, his preparation for work and life in a foreign country, and the degree of cultural diversity. Culture shock extends the period of adaptation to a new culture, has negative impact on well-being, achievements, effectiveness, and reduces job satisfaction. Some managers cannot adjust to work and life in a foreign cultural environment and decide to return earlier to their home country. The ones who are able to overcome culture shock and adapt to new conditions of work and life can experience reverse culture shock after coming back home, because in the meantime everything has changed. Culture shock also applies to inpatriates, local managers delegated to the headquarters. Complete elimination of negative consequences of culture shock and reverse culture shock is not always possible but there are some methods of reducing negative effects of this phenomenon. Hence, the purpose of this article is to identify the essence and the course of culture shock, and indicate the ways leading to the reduction and mitigation of its consequences. Studies and analysis of literature illustrating culture shock and reverse culture shock were conducted to achieve the aim of this paper, and the monographic method was utilized to the presentation of the results of the research.

Słowa kluczowe: expatriates, culture, culture shock, reverse culture shock, U-curve