Do emotions matter?: The role of emotional intelligence competences in cross-cultural adjustment for international assignment

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle in a journalpeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to propose emotional intelligence (hereinafter EI) competences as a key predictor for overall cross-cultural adjustment of managers and professionals in its three respective dimensions: work, interaction and non-work adjustment. This explorative study contributes to the assessment and selection of potential professionals for international assignments by identifying the combination of soft competences and selected pre-existing personal factors that can predict cross cultural adjustment beyond traditional technical or functional skills. Design/methodology/approach - Data were gathered via a pre-validated multi-item questionnaire. The latter was administered in two languages: English and Spanish and two steps of multiple hierarchical regression analyses were conducted, in addition to the main variables (i.e. main effect). A total of 16 individual, organisational and context-related control variables were used in this study. Findings - The main findings indicate that EI is related to overall cross-cultural adjustment measured in its three dimensions. However, EI was most strongly related to interaction adjustment following overall cross-cultural adjustment. Furthermore, by isolating some important variables, the predictive role of EI on cross-cultural adjustment above and beyond these control variables was shown. Research limitations/implications - EI is still a new and debatable construct. Researchers are continuing to explore this construct from different angles. Moreover, there is keen interest in ascertaining whether the findings reported herein are sustainable. With the exception of one external source (culture distance), all data for the current study were collected via a self-reported questionnaire and although additional effort was made to reduce some potential method-variance problems, they cannot be entirely ruled out. The authors encourage future studies to improve the design by gathering data from multiple sources and from diverse settings. Practical implications - The paper reviews the possible advantages of including EI assessment in international postings selection process. Originality/value - This paper fills the need to study the predictive role of key soft skills in understanding cross-cultural adjustment of international assignees. This study analysed the role of emotions in cross-cultural settings by specifically examining a set of competences stemming from the EI construct. Although EI has been extensively used in the organisational behaviour literature, to the best of the authors’ knowledge, there is still a need to empirically explore the relationships of this construct within the context of overseas postings and cross cultural encounters.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-229
Number of pages23
JournalManagement Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Adaptability
  • Assessment
  • Cross-cultural adjustment
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Employee behaviour
  • Expatriates
  • Individual psychology
  • International organizations
  • International posting
  • Selection


Dive into the research topics of 'Do emotions matter?: The role of emotional intelligence competences in cross-cultural adjustment for international assignment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this