Schema adjustment in cross-cultural encounters: A study of expatriate international aid service workers

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Based on a schema perspective, this study discusses the adjustment process of expatriate workers through their cross-cultural experiences. Employing a qualitative, semi-structured interviewing method, this study collected data from 22 interviews with Taiwanese expatriate workers for an international aid service and analyzed critical incidents faced by these workers during their international service. Extending the existing schema theory for cross-cultural encounters, the author found that cultural shocks help enhance expatriate workers' awareness of their existing schemas. In addition, through mental tension, mental dialogue, and information regarding culturally relevant others, cross-cultural workers gradually modify their perspectives and interpretative frameworks to adapt to local situations in a different culture.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-68
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Intercultural Relations
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009 Jan 1



  • Cross-cultural learning
  • Expatriate workers
  • Intercultural adaptation
  • International service
  • Schema adjustment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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