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You May Think Globally But you Re-enter Locally!: 

You May Think Globally But you Re-enter Locally! SIETAR-USA Conference Albuquerque, New Mexico November 1-4, 2006

Session Presenter: 

Session Presenter Bruce La Brack, Ph.D. School of International Studies University of the Pacific Stockton, California

Session Focus: 

Session Focus Why the Social Context of Reentry Matters and How it is Changing Worldwide!

Session Overview: 

Session Overview Themes Reentry Definitions Traditional Characteristics Reentry Historically & Pre-Modern Patterns 20th Century Patterns Impact of Globalization Existing Models Emerging Behaviors & Models Diverse Impacts & Communities Contemporary Issues & Challenges New Directions and Complications


Reentry “Upon reentering their native culture without adequate preparation, people are likely to discover, much to their surprise, that they cannot simply pick up where they left off… Friends remember them more or less as they were when they left. In all likelihood, they are expected to be very much the same.” Source: Freedman, p. 22 in Clyde Austin, Cross-Cultural Reentry, 1986


“The illusion that it is easy to return home after an expanded overseas living and working experience is shared both by expatriate employees and their employers. This common misconception can lead to a variety of problems, from individual concerns such as disappointment, boredom, depression and anger to company issues…concerns such as low employee productivity, and effective use of skills and knowledge gained from the overseas experience, and a loss in revenue due to high turnover rates in returned expatriate employees.” Source: J. Greenberg, 1997


“Home… …where they are no longer foreigners…, where they don’t have to think before they speak or act, and where they needn’t ever worry again about having to adjust. Home: where it’s easy.” Source: Storti, 1990, p. 99

Types of Returnees (in very rough order of the amount of literature available on their Reentry experiences, problems, issues, and outcomes) : 

Types of Returnees (in very rough order of the amount of literature available on their Reentry experiences, problems, issues, and outcomes) US-American Study Abroad Students International Exchange/Foreign Students Missionaries (aka MK’s or Missionary Kids) International Business (including expat families) Military (aka Military Brats) TCK/Global Nomad International Development/Aid Diplomatic Corps Peace Corps

Types of Returnees, cont.: 

Types of Returnees, cont. 10. Refugee/Political Exiles 11. International Education (teaching & administration) 12. International Health Staff (doctors, nurses, AIDS clinicians, disaster relief workers, NGO agency medical personnel, etc.) 13. Journalists/Media 14. Hospitality Industry (e.g., Hotels, Resorts, Cruise Ships, Country Clubs) 15. Professional Athletes (e.g., American baseball players in Japan, American basketball players in Italy, Olympic athletes and coaches) Developed by Bruce La Brack, School of International Studies, University of the Pacific, Stockton, CA

General Categories of Definitions of Reentry: 

General Categories of Definitions of Reentry Behavioral – ‘generic’ (i.e., the act of reentering again) Aerospace — return from space Cardiology — blood circulation Real Estate — retaking possession of land Card Game — Whist Prison Release — parole Adult Education — non-traditional student Sojourner/Study Abroad — various Petroleum Exploration — drilling


Reentry reentry \re-'en-tre-\ n. a retaking possession; esp. entry by a lessor on leased premises on the tenant's failure to perform the conditions of the lease 2. a second or new entry 3. a playing card that will enable a player to regain the lead 4. the action of reentering the earth's atmosphere after travel in space Source: Webster’s Dictionary. Infopedia CD-Rom Version, 1996

Suggested Addition: 

Suggested Addition Reentry… the process or act of returning to one's native (passport) country after living or working internationally.

Why reentry “home” is potentially difficult: 

Why reentry “home” is potentially difficult Unanticipated change – “home” is a given Unadjusted expectations or false expectations Heightened critical sense Comparative framework (new perspectives) Unprocessed experience Little opportunity for application or sharing of non-technical knowledge Getting socially up-to-speed may be frustrating Reverse “home sickness”

Degrees of Cultural Reactions: 

Degrees of Cultural Reactions Culture Surprise (Tourist) “Notice Things,” fantasy-like, exotic, concentration on “difference,” quaint, “honeymoon” phase Culture Stress (Traveler) Mild response to “stimulus overload,” tired, withdrawn, annoyance builds, “daily reality” phase Culture Fatigue (Work/Study) Greater impact due to “need to operate” in difficult context, symptoms intensify, functionality declines

Cultural Reactions, cont.: 

Cultural Reactions, cont. Culture Shock Onset timing variable; results in serious reaction to continuing tension; anxiety; disconfirmation of behavior; possible severe physical/mental manifestations (e.g., anger, displaced aggression, “freeze”) Item Irritation Irritation Traceable to a single item/value; focus on an overt, observable behavior that is common and recurrent and not likely to go away; a real “hot button” (e.g., public spitting, mistreatment of animals)

Cultural Reactions, cont.: 

Cultural Reactions, cont. Reentry Shock Reactions that occur as a result of re-adaptation to our home culture; often called “reverse culture shock”; shares some aspects in common with culture shock, but timing of stages very different. Added complication of surprise: returnees usually don’t expect home culture to be unreceptive to them or to be so difficult to come back to; the “familiar” may seem “foreign.” Expectations of self and others can play major role in adjustment process, and be a source of ongoing stress. Specific context of reentry always a crucial variable.

Influences on Adjustment: 

Influences on Adjustment Time Abroad Location (degree of difference) Prior Exposure Overseas Extent of Immersion Home Contact/Support Networks Prior Reentry Experience(s) Degree of Home Culture Contrast


"When I go back I know I shall be out of it; we fellows who've spent our lives out there always are.” Somerset Maugham Source: from The Gentleman in the Parlour quoted in Craig Storti, The Art of Coming Home, Intercultural Press (1997), p. 1.

Reentry Predictor Variables: 

Reentry Predictor Variables Control Factors Intrapersonal Factors (personality/idiopathic issues) Somatic/Biological Factors Interpersonal (external support) Time/Space Geopolitical

Intensity Factors Adapted to Returnee Contexts: 

Intensity Factors Adapted to Returnee Contexts 1. Cultural Differences 2. Ethnocentrism 3. Language 4. Cultural Immersion* 5. Cultural Isolation* 6. Prior Intercultural Experience 7. Expectations* 8. Visibility/Invisibility 9. Status 10. Power and Control *particularly salient in reentry contexts Source: R. Michael Paige. “On the Nature of Intercultural Experiences and Intercultural Education,” in R. Michael Paige, ed., Education for the Intercultural Experience, Yarmouth, ME: Intercultural Press, 1994.

Reentry Program Models By Goal of Society or Organization: 

Reentry Program Models By Goal of Society or Organization Reassimilation/Reacculturaltion/ Resocialization Reflective Assessment Growth and Integration Negotiated Reentry Source: Bruce La Brack, School of International Studies, University of the Pacific, Stockton, CA

Reassimilation/Reacculturation/ Resocialization: 

Reassimilation/Reacculturation/ Resocialization Dominant historical patterns characterized by: Reinforcement of normative (traditional?) values is paramount and applied society-wide Deviation almost always results in negative sanctions Social pressure to conform often intense Limited ability of returnee to use prior experience Cultural variations are mainly structural and depend on type of society (e.g., tribal, peasant, industrial) and location (e.g., rural, urban, metropolitan) Limited mobility and/or alternative options

Human Society Dominated by Small Scale Societies Until 1800 : 

Human Society Dominated by Small Scale Societies Until 1800 For 250,000 years human society could be characterized as: Small scale Hunting/Gathering + Horticulture + Agriculture-based Exhibiting “mechanical solidarity” or Gemeinschaft society (Durkheim) Held together by “Moral Order” (Robert Redfield) Relatively isolated Highly collectivist In the 1800’s, there were 150 million people who were politically autonomous. In 1900, the number was still around 50 million.

Fit in or Suffer the Consequences!: 

Fit in or Suffer the Consequences! For 99% of human history, the role of the “returnee” was to fit back into prevailing cultural rules and roles of a specific society or kin group. The penalties for not doing so have ranged from ostracism to extreme isolation, banishment, and even death!

Early Historical Samples: 

Early Historical Samples Rituals Brahmannical Hindu purification rites from Rig Veda (circa 1700-1100 BCE) Literature “Prodigal son” from New Testament Bible Homer’s Odyssey Asian History Tokogawa Japan Chinese response to Europeans Journals Marco Polo Hsuan Tsang

Contemporary Samples from Smaller-Scale Societies: 

Contemporary Samples from Smaller-Scale Societies Western Apache of U.S. Southwest Mende of Sierra Leone, West Africa Yemeni of the Arabian Peninsula

Plato’s View of Strangers from The Laws: 

Plato’s View of Strangers from The Laws Utopian State needs to be insulated from the outside world as much as possible; therefore, in terms of foreign visitors, “good care” needs to be taken lest any “of this category of visitor introduces any novel custom.” Contact with strangers is to be kept “down to the unavoidable minimum.”

Plato’s View of Study Abroad: 

Plato’s View of Study Abroad “No young person under forty is ever to be allowed to travel abroad under any circumstances; nor is anyone to be allowed to go for private reasons, but only on some public business, as a herald or ambassador or as an observer of one sort or another.”

Plato’s View of Returnees: 

Plato’s View of Returnees Those who do go abroad for such purposes are obligated when they return to “tell the younger generation that the social and political customs of the rest of the world don’t measure up to their own.” Source: The Global Philosophers: World Politics in Western Thought (Issues in World Politics Series), Mark V. Kauppi

Macro Transformations 1800-1950 : 

Macro Transformations 1800-1950 Large scale nation-states emerge Colonialism dominates political organization Industrialization, agri-business and easier/cheaper sea and land transportation possible Societies move rapidly towards ‘Organic Solidarity’…aka a Gessellschaft society (Durkheim), held together by ‘Mechanical Order’ (Robert Redfield) Widespread, cross-border economic and social integration accelerates Power increasingly centralized and urbanized Many Western societies exhibit increasing individualist tendencies and values Internal cultural and social pluralism grows Global circulation of elites and administrators commonplace

Macro Transformations 1950-Present: 

Macro Transformations 1950-Present End of colonialism Massive internal & external migrations continue “Plural” and “multi-cultural” societies become norm in West and emerge elsewhere Jet travel becomes fast and less expensive Intensification of Global Mass Media/Pop Culture Computer revolution Internet evolution Asynchronous communication increases Non-traditional study abroad destinations increase Internships/service learning components grow Global management/manufacturing near universal trend Economic and social integration/interdependency intensifies World shrinks while diversity multiplies nearly everywhere

Shift in Goals of Repatriation: 

Shift in Goals of Repatriation Current philosophy of many study abroad and international exchange programs (at least in the West) revolves around a focus on Individual Growth: Direct cross-cultural learning and exploration Personal and cultural diversity seen as normal, positive and encouraged Integration of sojourn with home academic and social life desired/expected to some extent Result is a positive bias towards applying and integrating international experience into ongoing life and studies post-experience.

Expansion of Possibilities for Returnees: 

Expansion of Possibilities for Returnees Reassimilation/Reacculturation/Resocialization models remain common world-wide, however… Growth and Integration Reflective Assessment Negotiated Reentry examples have emerged as alternative models that support readjustment strategies for both institutions and individuals, reflected in growing differentiation of “reentry styles.”

New Issues and Contexts in Reentry: 

New Issues and Contexts in Reentry Global Nomads as percentage of returnees “Heritage-seeking” students and attendant identity issues “Revolvers” (where and when is “home”?) “Sequential Assignments” without meaningful time “at home” to readjust Attractive global alternatives (“just leave”) and local alternatives (“just stay”—but with limited networks and narrow comfort zones) Veterans (PTSD and reverse culture shock)

Local can be global Global can be local: 

Local can be global Global can be local Possibility of “cultural ghettoization” or social encapsulation—even in the most multi-cultural societies—with all associated negative results. Possibility of finding or creating an “international and/or intercultural” experience increasingly likely—even in homogenous traditional settings, and without leaving home.

Pusch’s Reentry Styles: 

Pusch’s Reentry Styles “Going Home: Styles of Reentry” by Margaret D. Pusch In Donal Lynch, Adrian Pilbeam and Philip O'Connor, Heritage and Progress, from conference proceedings, SIETAR-Europa Conference, Bath, England, 1998.

Pusch ‘Styles’ & J. Bennett Marginality Categories Compared: 

Pusch ‘Styles’ & J. Bennett Marginality Categories Compared ‘Free Spirit’ can seen as equivalent of an Encapsulated Marginal ‘Detached’ and ‘Integrator’ could both be seen as partial equivalents of a Constructive Marginal …depending upon degree of engagement

In-Patriation: A New Reentry Research Direction?: 

In-Patriation: A New Reentry Research Direction? Very recently, studies from areas as disparate as Ireland and Hong Kong/China have suggested a potential new direction in returnee research. They deal with return of expatriates (many formerly considered “permanent”) to their passport country due to current economic boom conditions. Adjustment patterns differ significantly from earlier expatriate returnees and associated literature. India is likely to experience similar patterns in near future.

Sample In-Patriation Studies: 

Sample In-Patriation Studies The “Returning to Ireland” website questionnaire of Dr. Michael J. Curran, Trinity College, Dublin, through which he gathered data on his interest in “the acculturation and health of current Irish in-migrants” ( in 2005-2006. Site no longer available on web. “Blending Cultures: Hong Kong Chinese Return Home,” paper by Dr. Nan Sussman, City University New York-Staten Island, presented at the SIETAR-USA Conference, Jersey City, N.J., November 2005; discusses the emergence of unique “re-migration reactions and effects” among Chinese returnees (former expatriates).

In-Patriation Article on India: 

In-Patriation Article on India “There’s No Place Like Home...Again: Returning to India: Personal and Professional Challenges” by Cindy Reif, in Strategic Advisor, Newsletter of GMAC: Global Relocation Services: Volume 2: Number 13 (Sept. 2006) Source: <>

Research Review Source: 

Research Review Source The Psychology of Culture Shock, 2nd ed., Philadelphia, PA: Routledge, 2001 Colleen Ward, Stephen Bochner, and Adrian Furnham provide a superb, relatively current, review of study abroad and international student adaptation research as part of comprehensive review of “culture shock.” Includes extensive bibliography on both “culture shock” and “reentry shock.” Excellent overviews of study abroad, immigrant, international student and other categories of sojourners.

Global Nomads: 

Global Nomads David C. Pollock & Ruth Van Reken Third Culture Kids: The Experience of Growing Up Among Worlds, 2nd ed. Intercultural Press, 2001 Pico Iyer The Global Soul: Jet Lag. Shopping Malls and the Search for Home Knopf, 2000

Native American Veterans Rituals: 

Native American Veterans Rituals Tom Holm Strong Hearts—Wounded Souls: Native American Veterans of the Vietnam War, University of Texas-Austin, 1996 (see especially Chapter 6, “Strong Hearts,” on contemporary ceremonies)

New Challenges in Reentry Training: 

New Challenges in Reentry Training Greater domestic and international variety in types of returnees than ever before Their experiences, expectations, and reactions will exhibit greater complexity, range and, sometimes, intensity Alternative adjustment possibilities are often extensive, but choosing among or recommending them can be difficult Consequences and outcomes of returnee adopting a specific strategy nearly always uncertain and often unpredictable Local context always has an impact upon readjustment, but it can be multiplistic and positive or negative—and sometimes both simultaneously or sequentially! Depends upon an interplay among the attitudes of the returnees, the returnee’s goals and views of the local circumstances, and the prevailing perceptions of the returnees by the salient surrounding reference groups

Challenges in Reentry, cont.: 

Challenges in Reentry, cont. Possible Ethical Dilemmas What to do when client sets expectations for a reentry training that may be incompatible, even diametrically opposed, to those desired by returnee? What to do when it is clear that corporate interests do not coincide with that of returnee and/or their family in terms of repatriation goals/future plans? What to do when trainer acquires information in course of reentry session that may adversely impact the sponsoring company, but returnee expects trainer to maintain confidentiality and company expects candor?

Expat Allegiance Patterns: 

Expat Allegiance Patterns Expatriates grouped into one of four allegiance patterns: Free Agent: Expats have low allegiance to both the parent firm and the local unit Going Native: Expats have low allegiance to the parent firm and high allegiance to the local unit Hearts-at-home pattern: Expats identify more strongly with the parent firm than with the local operation Dual Citizen pattern: Expats are highly committed to both parent and local operation Source: Black, J. Stewart, and Gregersen, Hal B. ” Serving Two Masters: Managing the Dual Allegiance of Expatriate Employees,” Sloan Management Review, Cambridge, Summer 1992


“In a sense, it is the coming back, the return, which gives meaning to the going forth. We really don’t know where we have been until we come back to where we were -- only where we were may not be as it was because of who we have become, which after all, is why we left.” Source: Bernard, character from TV show “Northern Exposure” after returning to Alaska from Africa

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