INTRODUCTION Increased global competition has placed a premium on the development of globally competent employees who can successfully span the boundaries of their host and home organizations by integrating the best of their own business practices with those of other cultures (Caligiuri, 1997). Such skills, which have been suggested to develop during overseas assignments, are crucial to the success of multinational organizations. Consequently, th e role played by second-culture exposure in shaping these socio-cognitive skills as well as the understanding of how such factors are associated with expatriates’ successful job performance are increasingly important (Mendenhall, Kuhlmann, Stahl & Osland, 2002). However, both the expatriate literature and the acculturation research have given little theoretical and empirical attention to these issues. Based on the rarely tested assumption that the better expatriates adjust, the better they will perform, much previous research on overseas assignments has focused on the factors that affect adjustment to local culture. As a result, little research has focused on actual performance while working abroad and very little attention has been given to other potential mediators of successful performance (e.g., Hechanova, Beehr, & Chritiansen, 2003). The acculturation research has also traditionally focused on psychological adaptation. As in the international management literature, the factors that shape underlying attitudes towards acculturation as well as the role played by second-culture exposure in shaping cognitive processes have been overlooked. One variable of potential importance is integrative complexity, which within a cross-cultural context refers to the capacity and willingness to acknowledge the legitimacy of competing cultural perspectives (differentiation) and to forge conceptual links among these perspectives (integration) (Baker et al., 1989). Previous research has consistently suggested that integrative complexity is a vital antecedent for successful performance, particularly in managerial tasks, which require an ability to be open to disconfirming information, engage in effective information search, and be comfortable with uncertainty (e.g., Streufert & Swezey, 1986). The added complexities of cross-cultural interaction make integrative complexity even more crucial in overseas assignments. I argue that integrative complexity will mediate the relationship between type of acculturation strategy and managerial performance.
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