Othman Yeop Abdullah Graduate School of Business

Cultural Intelligence (CQ) As a Predictor of Expatriate Adjustment and Performance

By Marlin Marissa Malek Abd Malek et al. (2013)


Despite the continuous pressure of cutting costs and severe budget restrictions, international assignments remain a crucial aspect of multinational corporations’ (MNC) global strategy. While hiring local personnel is a viable option for foreign firms in the host country, the sending of expatriates on foreign assignments remain the preferred staffing policy at least for the initial operations of the MNCs in foreign soils. Hence, it is crucial for MNCs to ensure that the expatriates successfully complete their assignments and contribute to the company’s global success and their individual career growth.

One of the most cited reasons for expatriates to prematurely terminate their assignment is poor cross-cultural adjustment in the host countries. While these expatriates have the familiarity of the organisation’s policies and procedures, every new country has its own culture and way of doing business that might be baffling even for seasoned businessmen. Having said that, Marlin was keen to investigate further on the underlying reasons why expatriates fail. This research tests the linkage between cultural intelligence, expatriate adjustment to the host country’s environment and expatriate performance while on international assignments. The investigation is carried out with data from 134 expatriates based in multinational corporations in Malaysia. The results highlight a direct influence of expatriates’ cultural intelligence on general, interaction and work adjustments. The improved adjustments consequently have positive effects on both the expatriates’ task and contextual performance. The research findings have implications for both international human resource management (IHRM) researchers and managers.

Related publications:

  1. Abdul Malek, M. M., & Budhwar, P. (2013). Cultural intelligence as a predictor of expatriate adjustment and performance in Malaysia. Journal of World Business, 48(2), 222-231.
  2. Abdul Malek, M. M., Budhwar, P., & Reiche, B. (2015). Sources of support and expatriation: A multiple stakeholder perspective of expatriate adjustment and performance in Malaysia. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 26, 258-279

Othman Yeop Abdullah Graduate School of Business (OYAGSB)
Universiti Utara Malaysia (Kampus Kuala Lumpur)
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50300 Kuala Lumpur Malaysia
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