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Reverse Culture Shock


Reverse culture shock, in a financial context, refers to the difficulties and challenges a person might experience when returning to their home country after spending a significant amount of time living, working, or studying abroad. They may find it hard to readjust to their former cultural norms and economic circumstances. This can be particularly pronounced in cases where the economic situation in their home country is significantly different than where they were.


The phonetic pronunciation of “Reverse Culture Shock” is: ri-vurs kuhl-cher shok

Key Takeaways

<ol><li>Reverse Culture Shock, also known as re-entry shock, is a range of emotions and challenges a person might experience upon returning to their home culture after living abroad for a substantial period. The individual may find it difficult to reintegrate into their former culture and lifestyle due to changes they’ve undergone during their time away.</li><li>Some common symptoms of Reverse Culture Shock include feelings of disorientation, frustration, or alienation, as well as a sense of longing for the foreign culture where the individual has stayed. The individual may feel that they no longer fit into their home culture, or that their home culture no longer meets their new outlooks and values.</li><li>Overcoming Reverse Culture Shock often involves a balance of maintaining some new habits and perspectives gained during the time abroad, while adjusting and adapting to the home culture. Seeking support can also be vital, whether it’s from friends and family, returnee groups, or therapeutic support.</li></ol>


Reverse Culture Shock is an important business/finance term because it refers to the psychological, emotional, and cultural adjustments that individuals experience when they return to their home culture after living or working in a different cultural environment, such as returning from an overseas assignment. This is particularly important for businesses operating in a global environment. Adjusting to the home culture again can be challenging as individuals might have modified their behaviors, attitudes, and expectations to adapt to the foreign culture. In a business context, this could mean changes in leadership or teamwork styles, communication approaches or decision-making processes which might not align with the home office’s practices. Supporting employees through this readjustment period is crucial, as it can affect their job satisfaction, performance, and retention. Understanding Reverse Culture Shock allows businesses to provide necessary support, mitigating the impact of these transitions.


Reverse culture shock refers primarily to the psychological, emotional, and social challenges that individuals often face when returning to their home culture after a significant period spent living or working in a different culture. In the business context, this phenomenon is particularly relevant for international employees or expatriates who have acclimated to the norms, customs, behaviors, and business practices in a foreign setting, and subsequently struggle to readapt upon their return.Recognizing and addressing reverse culture shock is valuable to a business as its main purpose lies in personnel management, especially in global and multinational businesses where workforce mobility is integral. By taking steps to manage reverse culture shock, organizations can aid their returned expatriates in effectively readjusting and reintegrating into their original business environment. The process can be used to harness their newly acquired skills, expertise, and perspectives gained while abroad. This supports employee well-being, boosts their productivity, and empowers the companies to leverage the benefits from their international exposure and experience, thereby contributing to global competency and competitive advantage.


1. Repatriation from an International Assignment: An employee from a multinational company who was living abroad for an extended period might experience reverse culture shock when they return to their homeland. This employee may have adjusted to the business and social norms of a different country—like those in China where business etiquette significantly varies from American standards—but upon returning to the U.S., they may find it challenging to re-adapt to the American way of handling business interactions and social engagements.2. Post-Merger Integration: Suppose an American company merges with a French organization. Initially, American employees adapt to the French working culture during the acquisition phase. However, if the management decides to re-adopt American working culture after the merger, workers might feel surprised or confused. They may need time to readjust to their original working culture, which they had set aside post-merger.3. International Student Job Searching: International students who pursue their degrees in the U.S. adapt to American culture and establish their social and professional lives accordingly. After graduation, if they decide to return to their home country to start their careers, they might face reverse culture shock. Certain business norms they’ve learned in the American context (like self-promotion during job interviews) may not apply or be appreciated in other countries, potentially causing discomfort or misunderstanding.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is Reverse Culture Shock?

Reverse Culture Shock is an emotional and psychological stage of re-adjustment, similar to your initial adjustment to living abroad. It can occur when one returns to their home country after spending a significant amount of time in a different culture.

How can Reverse Culture Shock impact my international business interactions?

If not managed well, Reverse Culture Shock can negatively impact your productivity, leadership, employee relations, and general business operations. For instance, you might find it challenging to re-adapt to the business norms, communication styles, and attitudes in your home country.

Are there any common symptoms of Reverse Culture Shock?

Yes, common symptoms include feelings of restlessness, boredom, depression, changes in goals and priorities, and feelings of isolation or not fitting in.

Can Reverse Culture Shock affect international business strategies?

Yes, Reverse Culture Shock can influence international strategies and decisions. If you fail to re-adapt to your home culture, it may lead to misunderstandings or conflict in cross-cultural business operations.

What strategies can businesses use to manage Reverse Culture Shock?

Businesses can provide cross-cultural training focusing on re-adjusting back into the home culture. They can also provide psychological support and encourage workers to maintain connections with the culture they were previously immersed in.

Is Reverse Culture Shock a temporary phase?

While the length of Reverse Culture Shock varies among individuals, it is often temporary. With support and time, most people are able to re-adjust successfully to their home culture.

How does Reverse Culture Shock relate to repatriation in a business context?

Repatriation is the process of returning an employee home after an international assignment. If not well-managed, this process can result in Reverse Culture Shock which can lead to a decrease in job satisfaction, performance, and retention rates.

Can Reverse Culture Shock affect financial decisions?

Yes, Reverse Culture Shock can impact financial decisions, especially if an individual finds it difficult to adjust back to the cost of living, financial norms and values, or understand changes in the economic climate of their home country.

Related Finance Terms

  • Repatriation Adjustments
  • Cross-cultural Communication
  • Global Workforce Management
  • International Relocation
  • Cultural Reintegration

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