Interdisciplinary Studies

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It is generally believed that cultural sojourners have diffi culties adapting to a wide range of business, academic, and social situations in a host culture. They need to adopt certain strategies to learn a foreign culture. Building upon existing literature on intercultural learning, adaptation, and perception, this research investigates American professional expatriates’ experience of coping with cultural others in China. In particular, this research investigates communication strategies that the American expatriates adopt in learning Chinese culture. Twenty in-depth interviews were conducted in China to collect data from multiple perspectives on how American professional expatriates adapt themselves from home (American) culture to host (Chinese) culture. The interviewees range from business executives, business owners, to diplomats, educators, employees at nonprofi t organizations and young graduates fresh out of American schools. American expatriates utilized three strategies in intercultural learning and adaptation. The three strategies are independent approach (obtaining information from the Internet, printed publication, TV, radio, and other mass media), observational approach (obtaining information by active observations in China), and interactional approach (obtaining information by interacting with the Chinese people, as well as interacting with fellow expatriates). Details of these strategies are discussed and future research directions are suggested.


This is the accepted version of the following article: Gao, Hongmei and Womack, Deanna F. (2007) "Approaching Chinese Culture: Strategies American Expatriates Adopt for Learning Chinese Culture," Global Business Languages: Vol. 12, Article 6, which has been published in final form at