Effect of support and cultural intelligence on the adjustment and performance of expatriates and their family members in Malaysia

  • Marlin Abdul Malek

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Theory suggests that people fear the unknown and no matter how experienced one is, the feelings of anxiety and uncertainty, if not managed well would affect how we view ourselves and how others view us. Hence, it is in human nature to engage in activities to help decipher behaviours that seem contrary to their beliefs and hinder the smooth-flowing of their work and daily activities. Building on these arguments, this research investigates the two types of support that are provided by multinational corporations (MNCs) and host country nationals (HCNs) to the expatriates and their family members whilst on international assignments in Malaysia as antecedents to their adjustment and performance in the host country. To complement the support provided, cultural intelligence (CQ) is investigated to explain the influence of cultural elements in facilitating adjustment and performance of the relocating families, especially to socially integrate into the host country. This research aims to investigate the influence of support and CQ on the adjustment and performance of expatriates in Malaysia. Path analyses are used to test the hypothesised relationships. The findings substantiate the pivotal roles that MNCs and HCNs play in helping the expatriates and their families acclimatise to the host country. This corroborates the norm of reciprocity where assistance or support rendered especially at the times when they were crucially needed would be reciprocated with positive behaviour deemed of equal value. Additionally, CQ is significantly positive in enhancing adjustment to the host country, which highlights the vital role that cultural awareness and knowledge play in enhancing effective intercultural communication and better execution of contextual performance. The research highlights the interdependence of the expatriates? multiple stakeholders (i.e. MNCs, HCNs, family members) in supporting the expatriates whilst on assignments. Finally, the findings reveal that the expatriate families do influence how the locals view the families and would be a great asset in initiating future communication between the expatriates and HCNs. The research contributes to the fields of intercultural adjustment and communication and also has key messages for policy makers.
Date of AwardJun 2011
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorYves R Guillaume (Supervisor), Pawan Budhwar (Supervisor) & Samuel N Aryee (Supervisor)


  • Expatriates
  • host country nationals
  • perceived organisational support
  • social support
  • cultural intelligence

Cite this