Does the satisfaction of a sojourner correlate with the number and quality of contacts with the local population, or does satisfaction only correlate with personality traits and is the number of contacts mediated by the sojourner�s personality?
What makes a sojourner or an expatriate�s stay more satisfying during their life abroad? There is ample evidence that the personality traits of extraversion and, to a lesser degree, openness, correlate with the wellbeing of an expatriate or a sojourner (Caliguiri 2000; Huang, Chi et al. 2005; van Oudenhoven and van der Zee 2002). The contact hypothesis poses that contact between groups can enhance intergroup relations if it meets certain conditions such as the purpose of the contact and the status of the participants. There is some evidence that the number of contacts with the local population improves the adjustment or satisfaction of the sojourner (Torbi�rn 1982), though not all researchers agree. Caliguiri (2000) did not find an effect of contact with the local population before controlling for personality. However, she operationalized contact with a one item self-report variable and did not distinguish between social contacts, work contacts or functional contacts.
It is to be expected that the number of friendships or contacts with the local population correlates both to the personality trait of extraversion and to the wellbeing of the expatriate. If, however, the number of contacts or friendships itself contributes to the satisfaction and wellbeing and thus to the success of the mission of the expatriate, then this would enable organizations to make their employees� stays abroad more successful by facilitating contacts with the local population.
The research question can be split up in four hypotheses:
Hypothesis 1: Extraversion and satisfaction correlate.
Hypothesis 2: Openness to experience and satisfaction correlate.
Hypothesis 3: The number of contacts with the local population and satisfaction correlate.
Hypothesis 4: The number of contacts is mediated by the extraversion of the expatriate. Both wellbeing and the number of contacts are functions of Extraversion and Openness. In other words: The number of contacts with the local population does not correlate with wellbeing after partialling out Extraversion and Openness.
These hypotheses provide us with four variables: three independent variables and one dependent variable.
Independent variable: personality trait of Extraversion
Independent variable: personality trait of Openness
Independent variable: number of contacts with the local population
Dependent variable: Satisfaction / Wellbeing
Hypotheses 1, 2 and 3 can be analyzed with a Pearson correlation. Hypothesis 4 can be analyzed with an Ancova. This Ancova will have the number of contacts as independent variable, Extraversion and Openness as covariate, and Satisfaction as dependent variable.
The following questionnaires are to be administered:
Personality questionnaire for Extraversion�off the shelf
Personality questionnaire for Openness�off the shelf
Questionnaire for contacts is to be constructed. It should contain items for status difference with the contact, voluntary contacts, professional contacts, organized by themselves, spouses or groups, etc. Black, Mendenhall and Odou (1991) have proposed a multi-dimensional view of expatriate adjustment. Their dimension of interaction adjustment can be used as a starting point in the construction of this questionnaire.
Questionnaire for Satisfaction / Wellbeing is to be constructed or taken off the shelf.
The total time needed for the four questionnaires should not exceed fifteen minutes, and ideally be around ten. Questionnaires will be administered online.
Subjects will be found within the expatriate community in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Spouses of expatriates will be included. The research project aims at including at least 200 subjects.
Subjects will be grouped according to sex and whether they are expatriate or spouse. A culture-distance scale based on Florkowski (1999) will be constructed as a control variable, and subjects will be asked to which extent they perceive culture distance. Also, present duration of stay (short, medium or long) will be included as a control variable.
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