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Culture Shock Forms and Coping Strategies

The training of cross-cultural competence and skills WS 2001 / 2002 Prof. Dr. Beneke

Jessica Ackmann Nikolaus Kster

Contents
1. Introduction 2. General Oberg-based models: U- and W-curve 3. Reasons 4. Symptoms 5. Possible Outcomes 6. Specific Groups, Motives & Problems 7. New Models and Criticism 8. Preparation, Training and Coping Strategies 9. Bibliography

Introduction

"Culture shock might be called an occupational disease of people who have been suddenly transplanted abroad.
(Oberg 1960: p. 185)

Introduction
When you are transferred to another culture, you lose all your familiar symbols and values as well as the framework of communication.
When do you shake hands? How long do you keep eye contact?

What's the right distance when talking to someone?

What do gestures and body language mean?

and so on
The foreigner feels like a fish out of water.
Oberg (1960): p. 185

U - Curve
+
1. Euphoria 2. Culture shock 3. Acculturation 4. Stable state
Feelings

Time

1.

2.

3.

4.
Hofstede (1997): p. 210

W - Curve

host culture

after return home

Reasons
The "software of the mind" (Hofstede) does not work in a different cultural environment.

cultural dimensions

Symptoms
- depression, feeling of helplessness - hostility towards the host culture and its members - home sickness - fear of physical contact with host culture members and items (such as water for drinking and washing, food, medical assistance...) - Foreigners often join together to complain about the host culture and strengthen their mutual belief that it is evil and responsible for their problems. - stereotyping

Possible Outcomes
High

Identification with original culture

Assimilation

Integration / Multiculturalism
High

Low

Marginalisation

Separation

Identification with host culture

Low

Ward, Furnham, Bochner (2001): p. 102

Possible Outcomes
Assimilation: The culture traveller rejects his culture of origin and adapts to the host culture, completely converting to its norm, values and behaviours.

Separation: The host culture is rejected and the norms of the original culture are strengthened. This leads to segregation, ethnocentrism and racism.

Possible Outcomes
Marginalisation: Both cultures are perceived as being equal, but mutually incompatible. The culture traveller doesn't feel at home in neither his original nor his host culture.

Integration: Both cultures are perceived as being equal AND mutually compatible. The sojourner becomes multicultural and feels at home in both his original and host culture.

Specific Groups, Motives & Problems


1. Tourists 2. Student Sojourners 3. Business Sojourners 4. Spouses and children 5. Immigrants 6. Refugees

Specific Groups, Motives & Problems

Tourists
There are several types of tourists with different motives for visiting a foreign country:

culture contact
low high

mass tourists

backpackers

Specific Groups, Motives & Problems

Student Sojourners
International students experience various difficulties: problems other cultural travellers have as well problems related to their studies financial problems homesickness, loneliness language problems social problems

Specific Groups, Motives & Problems

Business Sojourners
[...] there are large numbers of expatriates; they provide the human link in international business; and their effectiveness has a direct impact on the profitability and often the viability of international commerce. That is why business travellers are also the sojourner group most likely to receive at least some pre-departure cultural orientation and training [...]
(Ward, Furnham, Bochner (2001): p. 168)

Specific Groups, Motives & Problems


Expectations
assignments have to be fulfilled represent corporate philosophy

Problems
culturally influenced management and working styles DILEMMA

Specific Groups, Motives & Problems

Spouses and Children


Companies should take the spouse and family of the future expatriate into consideration when planning a business operation abroad.
Most common reason for early repatriation: discomfort of family abroad

Situation of spouse and children abroad:


- schools for children - Is it possible for the partner to work as well? Does he / she want to work? If not, what will he / she do? Can the company support him / her? How does the expatriation affect the spouses future career? - coping with the emotional stress, missing support of the working partner

Specific Groups, Motives & Problems

Immigrants
Immigrants are pulled towards a new country mainly due to personal motives such as

economic improvement and


family reunification.

Other motivating factors may be political pressures, social goals, etc.

Specific Groups, Motives & Problems

Problems
obstacles concerning economic success, unemployment,menial jobs

language problems
difficulties within the family (children parents relationship, values)

Specific Groups, Motives & Problems

Refugees
Unlike immigrants, sojourners or tourists, however, the relocation of refugees is involuntary. Rather than being pulled by the attractiveness of a new host host culture, refugees are pushed into an alien environment.
(Ward, Furnham, Bochner (2001): p. 221)

Motives
Escape threatening circumstances such as war, famine, torture, loss of family members, etc. premigration trauma

Specific Groups, Motives & Problems

Problems
the most disadvantaged group stressful premigration experiences involuntary relocation (push instead of pull); often unanticipated and therefore disruptive (poor or no preparation), homesickness poor or no language skills, no financial resources

New Models and Criticism


Despite 40 years of research in different fields, there has been no salient follow-up theory to Oberg's original model. However, numerous studies have shown that the u-curve model is not always relevant and that culture travellers have to be divided into different groups (see 6.). Ward, Furnham and Bochner came up with the ABC model which is based on extensive reviews of the relevant literature and which divides culture shock into three different components: Affective, Behavioural and Cognitive.

The ABC model of Culture Shock

Affective

Behavioural

Cognitive

The ABC model of Culture Shock


Affective: Cross-cultural transition is regarded as an extremely stressful life event (like marriage or the death of a close relative). Behavioural: Sojourners do not understand the cultural differences in their host country. This leads to misunderstandings and communication problems.

Cognitive: Cultural differences lead to problems with social identity: how people perceive themselves and others, in- and outgrouping and stereotyping.

Preparation, Training and Coping Strategies

- It is possible and advisable to let sojourners receive at least some pre-departure preparation and training.
- Also on-site mentoring (business people, students) and psychological treatment are useful in dealing with culture shock. -careful selection of candidates for positions abroad (positive and negative characteristics, willingness to stay abroad, family)

Preparation, Training and Coping Strategies

- The motives of sojourners are often ignored and their will to go abroad is often overestimated. - The expectations of expatriates should be realistic. - There are numerous possibilities for training sojourners. We already heard about these in this seminar (culture general / culture specific training, simulations, cultural assimilator...).

Bibliography
Hofstede, Geert (1997): Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind. New York: McGraw-Hill. Maletzke, Gerhard (1996): Interkulturelle Kommunikation. Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag. Oberg, Kalvero (1960): Culture Shock and the Problem of Adjustment in New Cultural Environments. In: Weaver, Gary R. (Ed.)(1998): Culture, Communication and Conflict. Readings in Intercultural Relations. Needham Heights, MA: Simon & Schuster Publishing. Ward, Colleen/Bochner, Stephen/Furnham, Adrian (2001): The Psychology of Culture Shock. Hove, East Sussex: Routledge. Marx, Elisabeth (2000): Vorsicht Kulturschock. So wird Ihr beruflicher Auslandseinsatz zum Erfolg. Frankfurt/New York: Campus Verlag.