Speaking as the Romans Do: Potential Effects of New Findings on Foreign Language Proficiency and Expatriate-HCN Relationships for Future Research

Date of Award

Spring 5-20-2023

Document Type

Honors Project

University Scholars Director

Dr. Christine Chaney

First Advisor/Committee Member

Dr. Donghun "Don" Lee


host country language proficiency, expatriate, trust, host country national aid, social identity theory, uncertainty avoidance


Though language is receiving more attention in the discipline of international business research as a key factor in expatriate and host country national relationships, research and conceptualization of language remains limited. This analysis of literature examines the effects of language proficiency in the field of international business pertaining to host country national and expatriate relationships. It utilizes the observations of Peltokorpi & Pudelko’s 2021 publication “When more is not better: A curvilinear relationship between foreign language proficiency and social categorization”, in which they observed a curvilinear U-shaped relationship between expatriate language proficiency and host country national outgrouping behaviors of host country nationals characterized by high Allocentrism as well as high Uncertainty Avoidance. Using this study and its cultural context as a backdrop, this examination questions expatriate language proficiency’s potential effects on host country national trust and aid of expatriates. Consideration of current studies and data in expatriate adjustment and Social Identity Theory lend consistent observations that relatively high expatriate language proficiency equates to lower host country national trust and aid towards expatriates. Additionally, this article explores how outgrouping behaviors, trust, and aid are related when examining host country national perspectives. This synthesis of current research will be helpful to researchers seeking to empirically address the implications of Peltokorpi & Pudelko’s 2021 publication, as well as managers and expatriates seeking to consider the perspectives of host country nationals.


A project submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the University Scholars Honors Program.

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