Posted on January 23, 2015
The purpose and outcome of the study were to develop a substantive theory to provide insight into the role of the Internet in expatriate adjustment in KSA. Expatriate adjustment research has identified a number of challenges that expatriates experience when adjusting to the host country. These include spousal influence, cultural training/understanding, fluency in the host language and the personality or emotional readiness of the expatriate. These challenges are amplified when considered in the KSA, which has large cultural distance when compared to the average Western culture and therefore provides a setting for an interesting study. Limited studies are available that considers the role of the Internet during the expatriate episode in general, and none on the expatriate adjustment specifically. Furthermore, to the best of the researcher’s knowledge, no research is available that provides a grounded theoretical understanding of the Internet in expatriate adjustment.
The research project used a grounded theory based approach to develop a substantive theory on the role the Internet plays in expatriate adjustment in KSA. The conceptual account emerges from interviewing expatriates living on Western compounds in Riyadh, the capital of KSA. The core concern that emerged from this study is one describing the mediating effect of the Internet. This study hypothesise that the Internet had a regulating effect on expatriates’ degree of isolation and degree of information flow which affects their adjustment process and state and adjustment as an expression of expatriate well-being. The theory building study presents a theoretical model, grounded on rich empirical data. The theoretical model consists of two substantive categories: degree of isolation and degree of information flow. The former explains what contribute to the feeling of isolation experienced by expatriates. It is shown that the degree of isolation is a multifaceted concept informed by expatriates’ living space, status, social support, mobility in KSA and state of mind. The latter substantive category, degree of information flow, explain the extent to which information can be exchanged between expatriates and other entities, be it family, friends or the outside world in general not excluding communication with other expatriates in KSA. These two substantive categories were explained through the core category which was conceptualized metaphorically as “the Internet a lifeline to the real world”. Considering the lifeline properties of the Internet the theoretical model explains how it positively effects expatriate adjustment to KSA. It was shown that the Internet as a mediator had an effect when considering adjustment as a process, as state and an expression of expatriate well-being.
This research was guided by two key research objectives: (a) to add theoretical content to the understanding of the role the Internet plays in expatriate adjustment; and (b) presenting possible strategies to improve expatriate adjustment. To the researcher’s best knowledge, this study describes for the first time in IS literature, the significant role and the contextual issues surround the expatriate’s use of the Internet in KSA. In doing so, the study develops an understanding, grounded on rich empirical data from the substantive field of expatriates. This new understanding contributes to both IS research and practice and provides guidance for future research.
RSVP : Monday, 26 January 2015
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