The Contingent Effects of Role Ambiguity and Role Novelty on Expatriates' Work-related Outcomes

Norifumi Kawai, Alexander Mohr

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review


Research on work stress has highlighted its negative outcomes for both individuals and their employers. Overseas assignments are more stressful than domestic assignments, and their relatively high failure rates are well documented. We suggest, however, that certain types of stress can positively affect expatriate performance. Based on role theory and the distinction between hindrance and challenge stressors, we develop hypotheses regarding the influence of role ambiguity and role novelty on expatriate success. We also conceptualize and empirically investigate the moderating influence of expatriates' perceptions of organizational support and supervisor support. Our hypotheses are tested using a sample of 125 Japanese expatriate managers in Germany. We find that role ambiguity is a hindrance stressor and negatively affects job satisfaction and work adjustment, while role novelty acts as a challenge stressor and positively affects job satisfaction, task performance and work adjustment. Our findings also show that perceived organizational support attenuates the negative effects of role ambiguity on work adjustment and strengthens the positive effect of role novelty on job satisfaction. We also find that supervisor support positively moderates the positive effect of role novelty on job satisfaction and work adjustment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163 - 181
JournalBritish Journal of Management (BJM)
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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