Conclusion: Expatriate language and identity challenges and recommendations for expatriate management

Ling Eleanor Zhang, Anne-Wil Harzing, Shea Xuejiao Fan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review


In this chapter, we review the main findings of our book and highlight the key implications that we can draw from our studies. While sending expatriates to China is still a common practice, MNCs clearly struggle in managing this group of employees. Expatriates themselves also find it challenging to cope with the changing social and work environments around them in the host country. They struggle when deciding whether to learn the local language and how much effort should be devoted to this. They ask themselves how confident they should feel before speaking the local language, regardless of their actual proficiency. Expatriates are also concerned as to whether they will ever be accepted, given that they look different and speak a different language. Even when expatriates have the same ethnicity as the locals, they might wonder whether the shared ethnicity is a positive or negative characteristic. Furthermore, we discuss the notion of change in terms of the changing expatriate concept; we also examine the changes in identity which occur during the process of negotiating acceptance. Finally, we provide a series of practical recommendations for MNCs, urging them to take an active role in managing employee diversity in the subsidiary as well as headquarters. This includes presenting concrete advice to both expatriates and local employees on how to embrace the differences between them.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationManaging Expatriates in China: A Language and Identity Perspective
EditorsLing Eleanor Zhang, Anne-Wil Harzing, Shea Xuejiao Fan
Place of PublicationLondon
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017

Publication series

NamePalgrave Studies in Chinese Management


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