Study on Hiatus 1 – Expatriate Online Groups

ExpatPicEvery researcher has confidently started a study with
assurances of it being a top-tier publication, just to have it fizzle out into only a conference presentation.  Sometimes the theory doesn’t hold up across multiple
studies.  Other times, the coauthors don’t follow-through on their end of the bargain.  Often, like in the subject of this blog post, the sample never comes through.

Sometime in 2013, I started a study which focused on expatriates’ use of online groups.  I believe that expensive organizational interventions to ease expatriate adjustment are less effective than cheaper alternatives.  In fact, I think one of the best alternatives may be free – online groups.  Online groups are collections of individuals who perceive a common identity and largely interact through computer-mediated-communications.  Currently, hundreds-of-thousands (if not millions) of online groups exist for an array of purposes.  The purpose of a small portion of these is to connect expatriates with common characteristics, such as home and host country.  I believe that individuals who use these online groups before and during their expatriate experiences experience less uncertainty, more positive emotions, and better expatriate outcomes.

To investigate this notion, I performed an initial qualitative study.  Using two expatriate forums, I administered an open-ended questionnaire.  Within a day I received about thirty responses, and the data was fantastic.  Several respondents completed paragraphs of text about their expatriate experiences and the role that the online group played.  Enthusiastic about the initial success, I created a quantitative survey to administer to other expatriate online groups.  The final goal was to write an article with Study 1 as the qualitative results and Study 2 as the quantitative results.

I posted the survey on a number of expatriate forums.  Then I waited…and waited…and waited.  I received about three responses in 30 days.  I’m not exactly sure why the latter forums were resistant to completing the survey.  Maybe they didn’t want to fill-in bubbles, and would rather type their responses.  Maybe they were suspicious of the survey in general.  Regardless, some of my other studies around this time were more successful, and the expatriate online group study was placed on the back-burner.

Just to get something from my time, I presented a poster of the qualitative data at APA in 2014.  The paid (by my department) trip to DC was nice, but I would have much rather gotten a JAP or AMJ publication from my time.  But nevertheless, here is the poster if anyone is curious of the results: APA 2014 Expat Poster .  If anyone ever wants to rekindle the study, I would be happy to collaborate.  It wouldn’t be an overly difficult process, as the theory is largely straightforward.  But until then, this study remains on hiatus.

2 thoughts on “Study on Hiatus 1 – Expatriate Online Groups

  1. I was also recently wondering about how social media function to help expats acclimate. I moved to Korea in 1998 before there were things like facebook, so in those days the pubs functioned as meeting points and cultural decompression chambers. I hope you’re able to pursue this study – I’d be curious to know what you find.

    I blog about expat issues as well and am always looking to connect with people who blog about similar themes. Please visit me at sometime. Cheers, and good luck with everything!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your comment! Hopefully I’ll be able to finish it one day, but we’ll see.

      Your WordPress looks very interesting. I like your insights into the expat experience, and I’ll look-out for more of your blog posts!


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