During a mission of expatriation, the difficulties faced by expatriate executives differ from those of their spouses (often women, even though there is a slight increase in the number of spouses accompanying persons).
Indeed, the company offers the employee framework reassuring a corporate culture that is still familiar. And if there is no effort to get out of this framework, the expatriate employee can completely stay out of the realities of the host culture. Social interactions are done with colleagues and English is the working language in the majority of companies, then it is not necessary for him to learn the local language.
For the spouse is a whole other story…
To follow her husband, she chose to start a new life, away from its culture, its benchmarks, its routines, his family and his friends. To follow her husband, she has also developed his career in standby mode. All of these changes, this loss of both social and cultural identity, make it more vulnerable to the effects of culture shock.
Diving into the reality of everyday life at the beginning of the adventure, it is back in place of activities for her and her children, manage daily tasks and to avoid staying in the most complete isolation (especially if it does not control the language of the host country), it must seek a network (we will see in a future article why it is better to avoid that attend expat networks ').
And these new challenges, it faces alone, his or her spouse was often very taken by his new mission. Not to mention that if there are children, the wife of expatriate must manage the integration and doubts of his children, in addition to his own. We understand it, it will have to count that on itself, efforts of ingenuity, and tap at the bottom of itself the resources to, every year, transform the fabric of this new life, in a positive and rewarding adventure.
The adaptation of the spouse is crucial to the success of the mission of expatriation
When a spouse is unable to find its place in the new family organization, to face the inevitable culture shock to exist socially in the absence of a professional activity, in short, when the spouse is unable to adapt, the consequences have a resounding impact both on the family and in turn, on the company.
Several studies on the reasons for the failure of expatriation highlight the influence of the spouse as to the decision to anticipate the return to the country of origin.
Hence, companies, which are starting to become aware of the issue of expatriation in family, are more numerous to implement an accompaniment of the spouse. Indeed, if the family as a whole is supported, accompanied by its logistics, but also cultural, expatriate can focus on its mission.
The role of the intercultural training for spouses of expatriate.
These formations have for objectives of:
- give expatriates the skills necessary to conduct themselves in a manner culturally appropriate in the host country,
- provide the necessary tools to deal with the unexpected, especially in the resolution of conflicts,
- help them to formulate realistic expectations of expatriate life.
Should stress the importance of this last point. Indeed, more expectations of the individual will be in phase with the reality, more will be the chances of success in the process of adaptation, and more strong will be removed from the experience personal satisfaction. It would be a mistake to believe that experience in itself will lead to adjustments. These are beautiful and well expectations that have future expatriates that will allow these adjustments timely.
Many studies verified the effectiveness of intercultural training that provides excellent guidelines for the preparation and integration. In the case of frustration or depression, this allows to fall, re – orient its expectations and modify his understanding of future scenarios.
It is clearly in the interest of the companies to take into account the importance of the support given to the spouses of expatriate executives.