The Story of One Family

Topics: Kuala Lumpur

To current have a complete understanding of expatriation, it is crucial to conduct a thorough and critical review of the current literature regarding the topic. Firstly, to obtain a fully developed understanding of this topic, this literature will cover the key concepts as regards expatriation. In addition, specific cultural contexts will be considered in this literature review such as the Malaysian culture that Simon Jones has difficulty adapting to at the beginning of his job in Malaysia and how these factors affect Simon’s expatriate adjustment.

An expatriate assignment means to have a job transfer that requires the employee to move away to a new country to return to their home country (SHRM 2014). Expatriation often includes the transition of their families and personal lives to a foreign setting and is recognized as a complex and strategically significant part of international human capital (Adekol & Sergi 2007, p. 239). It varies from other international assignments in the regard that it requires a more significant level of responsibility, as the employee’s headquarters will be the host country.

Many academics argue that the benefit of such assignments offer is substantial in the form of experienced global managers and extensive knowledge of certain regions (Pedagogik 2014).


Expatriate adjustment is a subject widely discussed in expatriation literature and is considered to be an important instrument for assessing the success of expatriate assignments.

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The expatriate adjustment refers, as the name implies, to the level of change and comfort felt by expatriate managers in their host countries and new surroundings (Caliguiri et al. 2001, p 357).

In this case, expatriation is not new to Simon Jones as he has experienced as an expatriate in Bombay, India for the last 13 years. However, he still encountered several issues when he first transferred to Malaysia which correlates with the Expatriate Acculturation Process Model where he goes through stages such as pre-departure preparation, initial experience, and gestation.

Pre-departure planning offers a structure for consideration of the decision to move (or not move) from their country of origin. The employee will be subjected to two forces, one operating in a push factor, which will influence the employee to move; the other is the pull factor where the employee is held back by pressure against the move (Wiksten 2018).

Wiksten, S 2018, ‘How organizational support facilitates the relationship between expatriate adjustment and commitment”, Master thesis, Aalto University School of Business, viewed 25 May 2020, <>.

Mr. Simon Jones and his wife, Alice were leaning more towards the push factor as it meant they would be living in a higher standard of living in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia as opinposedoppose to Bombay, India. According to Landau (2019), a statement issued by Mercer, an international human resource consulting company, said Kuala Lumpur was ranked second highest in Southeast Asia, ahead of the Indian cities. It will also indicate being a lot closer to their New Zealand homeland. Furthermore, Alice was looking forward to enrolling her twins into from a better school found in Lumpur than in Bombay; The twins, Lulu and Ruby are enrolled in one of the best international schools that can be found in Malaysia which is the British Alice Smith School: Alice Smith School, one of the oldest British schools in Malaysia and South-East Asia, has developed a reputation for excellent British education (Tatler Malaysia n.d.).


The second stage of the cycle of acculturation is the initial experience that takes place upon the individual’s arrival at the host. Acculture experience of this time is influenced by the initial interaction between the person and the host country including the feeling about food, accommodation, host culture, people, support services, and environment (cite canvas). Simon Jones and his family were pleased with their move to Kuala Lumpur. They were provided with a luxurious apartment complex that accommodated other expatriate families who were friendly and made them feel welcome. Simon’s deal also included the rental of the apartment, his daughters’ school fees, flight tickets back to New Zealand, a driver, and the wages for a maid. After living in Kuala Lumpur for two months it could be said the move was a great achievement.

The third stage of the acculturation process is the gestation period considered to be the ‘culture shock” phase, in which the individual experiences the realities of the host country intensively. These experiences are situated within a variety of positive and negative experiences based on the individual’s cultural background and past experiences.

Despite the successful move, Simon Jones has encountered several problems with his job transfer which correlates to stage 3. One of them is, the ‘Bumiputera’ policy implemented by the Malaysian government. According to the Attorney General of Malaysia (2010), the Federal Constitution’s Article 153 is referred to as the provision that protects the native and Malay people’s rights in their positions in the public service which results in the expatriates being outnumbered by the local workforce in the corporate. This policy puts pressure on Simon Jones as he had no experience of working with the majority of locals in the higher positions whereas, in Bombay, the company only employed the locals for the lower positions.

Similarly, the employee’s cultural differences were also a challenge Simon Jones had to face. Uninformed and oblivious about the Muslim culture, the expatriates tend to behave unorderly which the local employees view as disrespectful and offensive. One of them is the issue with Jane Devine’s sleeveless blouses in the office. Upon diplomacy, Simon had to ask Ms. Devine to make alterations to her clothing. However, it backfired upon Simon and Trigon Offshore when Ms. Devine accused them of being sexists and discriminators. In addition, the company’s culture of promoting harmony amongst the staff over Friday night alcohol drinks also became an issue for the Malaysian employees as they felt they were being excluded.

Regardless of how this caused conflicts, Simon and the other expatriates still had to capitulate, as long as they are working in Malaysia. According to White (2018), workplaces are regulated by Islamic laws and work has become a sharia realm that is neither fully public nor entirely private but that practices morals and regulations from both; in other words, a third sharia space that affects employees in numerous ways, bridging their private and public lives and acting on them both personally and as an employee.

Due to the cultural differences, Simon found it difficult to change the conditioning he developed in India for 13 years to adjust to what was required in Malaysia. Over the years, Simon evolved a very aggressive managerial style. The unwitting application of this in Malaysia caused a great offense such as him mistreating his driver; which caused conflict between Simon and his wife. Alice felt unsafe leaving her daughters in the driver’s care on daily journeys to and from school after knowing the driver was unhappy with his job.

Lastly, soon problems began to be made and the actions of the other culture were blamed. As the situation worsened Simon became very despondent. Inevitably, the productivity of the workforce decreased due to the absence of cooperation between expatriates and local staff. According to Blanding (2013), Professor Roy Y. J. Chua of Harvard Business School Assistant asserts conflict is inevitable when you are bringing people from different cultural backgrounds together.


To better understand the subject of expatriation, an in-depth and critical review of existing literature on the topic is important. Firstly, the literature review will concentrate on identifying key concepts about expatriation to provide a well-rounded understanding of this particular subject. In addition, the literature review will continue to analyze Simon Jones’ journey as an expatriate in Malaysia and form an understanding of how these factors affect expatriate adjustment, taking into account the specific cultural context.

The literature review is divided into relevant sub-sections. Section 2.1 will focus on defining the key concepts that will be utilized in this research paper: expatriate managers, expatriate assignments, and the expatriation process. Section 2.2 will then go on to explore expatriate adjustment and expatriate commitment in detail and form a framework of the factors which influence expatriate adjustment. Section 2.3 will discuss and analyze the key elements of Chinese culture which may hinder expatriate adjustment, both in the work context and in daily life. Section 2.4 will conclude the literature review and highlight key points that arise from the literature and introduce the theoretical framework which connects expatriate adjustment to expatriate commitment.


This case study has given rise to three key contributions. Firstly, the multifaceted nature of expatriate adjustment was one key finding from currentin this case study. Adjustment is both complex in terms of different dimensions but also subjective. The importance of interactional aspects in enhancing expatriate adjustment was one key element of adjustment that emerged from this study. These included such elements as family adjustment and foreign networks.

Second, another key finding from this study was the absence of training and preparation o expatriates. Multinational companies like Trigon Offshore need to educate their employees, particularly the expatriates, about the cultural differences in Malaysia, as well as the Islamic laws that need to be followed. This is highly recommended considering the problems arising from this case study were mainly about miscommunication and misunderstanding of cultural differences. Trigon Offshore have to adequately provide their expatriate and local employees with all the tools they need to be able to co-exist within the same corporation.

Thirdly, the final key finding was that expatriate adjustment and affective engagement are interconnected in a multi-dimensional manner, as both have an impact on the other. The case study further highlighted the need for organizations to facilitate effective engagement with their expatriate managers to minimize the risk of losing highly qualified employees on premature resignation.

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The Story of One Family. (2022, Jun 24). Retrieved from

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