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  • Topic: The Culture, Culture, Repatriation
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  • Published : January 30, 2013
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Discuss the role of reverse culture shock in the repatriation process. What can companies do to avoid this problem? What kinds of skills do managers learn from a foreign assignment, and how can the company benefit from them?

The excitement of returning home after several years on an overseas assignment is sometimes frustrated by the unexpected nature of what awaits expatriates and their families: reverse culture shock. The difficulties of reintegration into the person's native culture are usually a real surprise: coming home should be easier than going abroad in the first place. However, the stages of acculturation that took place when employees were posted abroad are no less relevant when they return home. This process of repatriation and the experience of reverse culture shock apply equally to the return to the office and the factory as to the return to family and friends.

Among expatriates culture shock is a term in common usage. It describes the discomforting responses one may have while re-adjusting culturally to one's home culture in repatriation. That distress tends to result in disorientation and emotional challenges. When one passes through that cultural adjustment process, it is said that person has acculturated.

A second experience of a similar response typically occurs to most that go through the coming home process known as repatriation. Interestingly, this is often experienced as a more difficult process for those who adjusted well to a host culture and completed the assignment effectively. This response is common in repatriation and is typically called reverse culture shock.

Depending on how big a change a person has experienced, the person may feel as if the culture isn't in fact new, but that they belong, or the person may not exactly feel part of the culture, but they're comfortable enough with it to enjoy the differences and challenges.

They feel almost betrayed, perhaps by the company, certainly by their own naïve expectations....
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