Self-regulation and expatriate adjustment: The role of regulatory fit
In this paper, we draw on the construct of regulatory fit in explaining how expatriates manage interactional and work-related discrepancies in diverse cultural contexts. When expatriates go overseas, they are often faced with a set of expectations that are at variance with their home country norms and these differences in expectations generate discrepancies. The emergence of discrepancies in an alien cultural context exacerbates the uncertainties facing the expatriate, though the response to uncertainty varies between expatriates. We posit that expatriates with a promotion-focused self-regulatory system are focused on maximizing gains leading them to manage uncertainty through experimentation whereas expatriates with a prevention-focused self-regulatory system are oriented to minimizing losses leading them to manage uncertainty by persisting with the status-quo. Utilizing insights from motivational science and by linking the self-regulatory processes to the cultural context, we develop a framework and propositions for expatriate adaptation in loose and tight cultures. We present managerial implications of our model and offer guidance for testing the framework.