Title: 'Learning without thought is labour lost, thought without learning is perilous': the importance of pre-departure training and emotions management for expatriates working in China

Authors: Ilaria Boncori; Tom Vine

Addresses: University of Essex, International Academy, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester CO4 3SQ, UK ' University Campus Suffolk, Waterfront Building, Neptune Quay, Ipswich IP4 1QJ, UK

Abstract: Based on data gathered from an autoethnographic account and in-depth qualitative interviews with Italian expatriates, this paper explores the importance of pre-departure linguistic and cultural training for expatriates working in China, with a particular focus on the emotional aspects of movement. According to the latest Global Relocation Trends surveys, China is ranked second only to the USA as the top international destination. However, it also tops the ranking in terms of expatriate assignment failure as it is regarded as the country in which expatriates find it most difficult to adapt (GMAC, 2010, 2011). It is here argued that linguistic competences together with cultural understanding are crucial determinants of a positive expatriate experience in terms of general adjustment, social adjustment and work adjustment. Notably in respect of emotional experience, training can ameliorate emotional dissonance as well as being a precursor for a more general sense of expatriate emotional wellbeing.

Keywords: expatriates; expats; work; learning; autoethnography; international management; cross-cultural business; pre-departure training; China; emotional dissonance; emotional wellbeing; expatriate emotions; linguistic competence; cultural understanding; Italy; cultural training; linguistic training.

DOI: 10.1504/IJWOE.2014.060928

International Journal of Work Organisation and Emotion, 2014 Vol.6 No.2, pp.155 - 177

Published online: 24 May 2014 *

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