Self-initiated expatriate adjustment: South Korean workers in Vietnam

Seok Young Oh, Kyoungjin Jang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this study is to identify how young South Korean self-initiated expatriates (SIEs) have adjusted to their work and to verify the role of workplace learning activities as work adjustment processes in the relationship between work adjustment resources and outcomes. Design/methodology/approach: The study adopted a mixed-method approach, beginning with a qualitative study, followed by a quantitative study. Findings: The main findings of the qualitative study indicated two types of SIE personal characteristics (ability to embrace cultural differences and entrepreneurship), their participation in training programs and that a supportive work environment which facilitates their work adjustment. Workplace learning, which led to role clarification within their organizations, is also critical for adjustment. Based on these findings, the quantitative research study examined the effects of personal and contextual factors on workplace learning and adjustment (n = 120). The quantitative part of the study found cultural intelligence (CQ), entrepreneurship, training programs and supportive environments were positively related to sociocultural adjustment through the work adjustment process. Research limitations/implications: As work adjustment is an important predictor of increased sociocultural adjustment among SIEs, organizations should build learning-supportive climates to promote workplace learning and seek people with appropriate characteristics for expatriation. Further studies should expand participant sample sizes to represent a wider population of SIEs. Originality/value: Extant literature on SIEs mainly explored their performance and management. This study explores their adjustment processes through the perspective of workplace learning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-43
Number of pages28
JournalCareer Development International
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Jan 18

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Work characteristics. Coworker and supervisor support was identified as an important factor for SIE adjustment. and found that coworker support facilitated expatriates' work, interaction and adjustment. Furthermore, improved adjustment has been associated with supportive supervisor relations (; ; ) and language and cultural training prior to expatriation (; ; ). Logistical support from expatriates' organization, such as financial support and help with housing affects cultural and interaction adjustment. examined the facilitating role of organizational socialization tactics in adjustment, which are structured activities organizations use to support organizational members. Finally, career-oriented human resources management practices including training, career development practices and rewards can influence SIEs' adjustment ().

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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