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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Chase

Coming home



Executive recruitment can sometimes face a formidable challenge when bringing back executives who have spent an extended period abroad to their home country. This phenomenon, known as reverse culture shock (RCS), encompasses the emotional and psychological readjustment from a host culture to the home culture, often referred to as re-entry. The prevalence of RCS is on the rise, with estimates suggesting that more than 70% of executives experience its effects.


Navigating this situation can be particularly demanding, as individuals may initially expect a seamless transition upon returning home, only to encounter unexpected difficulties during the readjustment process. RCS unfolds in four well-researched stages, though the experiences can vary widely among individuals, with factors such as the duration of stay in the home culture, previous international living experiences, individual personality, the positivity of the expatriate experience, and the existence of a support system upon return influencing the challenges faced.


Crucially, the degree of Cultural Intelligence possessed by the individual can play a pivotal role in mitigating the adverse impacts of both culture shock upon arrival in the host country and reverse culture shock during re-entry. Cultural Intelligence, considered a vital soft skill, encompasses an individual's ability to interact effectively with people from different cultures.

 While the readjustment experience varies significantly among individuals, some argue that executives who have integrated well into the host country's culture may face greater challenges during re-entry. This paradox suggests that those who adeptly assimilate into a foreign culture at the beginning of an assignment might encounter more significant issues upon returning home.


Executive recruitment can sometimes face a formidable challenge when bringing back executives who have spent an extended period abroad to their home country. This phenomenon, known as reverse culture shock (RCS), encompasses the emotional and psychological readjustment from a host culture to the home culture, often referred to as re-entry. The prevalence of RCS is on the rise, with estimates suggesting that more than 70% of executives experience its effects. Navigating this situation can be particularly demanding, as individuals may initially expect a seamless transition upon returning home, only to encounter unexpected difficulties during the readjustment process. RCS unfolds in four well-researched stages, though the experiences can vary widely among individuals, with factors such as the duration of stay in the home culture, previous international living experiences, individual personality, the positivity of the expatriate experience, and the existence of a support system upon return influencing the challenges faced.



Crucially, the degree of Cultural Intelligence possessed by the individual can play a pivotal role in mitigating the adverse impacts of both culture shock upon arrival in the host country and reverse culture shock during re-entry. Cultural Intelligence, considered a vital soft skill, encompasses an individual's ability to interact effectively with people from different cultures.


 While the readjustment experience varies significantly among individuals, some argue that executives who have integrated well into the host country's culture may face greater challenges during re-entry. This paradox suggests that those who adeptly assimilate into a foreign culture at the beginning of an assignment might encounter more significant issues upon returning home.


To overcome the challenges of re-entry, awareness and vigilance for signs of reverse culture shock are paramount. Yet, for individuals returning home they often have no support given that they are “native speaker” and simply look like everyone else. Taking an example from our own company, Jennifer of Chase Partners LLC, returned after 25 years of working in France to the United States as Partner in a “global” executive recruitment firm with executives. While Nick Hicks, originally from the UK, has decided to remain in France for over 25 years.


In 2014, Jennifer was repatriated to her home country by a executive search firm made-up of Partners with little to no international experience other than overseas travel adventures. Integrating an international executive into a highly local setting can cause intense re-entry stress, and therefore seeking assistance from a suitable professional, such as a counselor or coach in the home country, is helpful. Of course, if international skills acquired from working overseas are truly valued within the new company, the transition can be smoother.


To assist executives for RCS, maintaining connections with friendships formed in the host country, identifying opportunities to share experiences overseas, expressing thoughts and emotions through journaling or blogging, exercising patience with friends and family who may not fully comprehend the overseas experiences, and participating in international events within the local community are essential strategies for a smoother re-entry process.


 "After a decade of readjustment to my home country, I can affirm that my international journey in both directions was a profound lesson in the subtleties of cultural intelligence. It's this insight that inspired me to establish Chase Partners LLC."


Recognizing the gap in understanding and support for executives facing cultural transition our firm is dedicated to easing these transitions. We blend global experience with local knowledge, ensuring that the valuable skills and perspectives gained abroad are not just acknowledged, but also leveraged for continued success."





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