Culture Shock - Meaning & Definition

Published in Human Resources Terms by MBA Skool Team, Last Updated: May 24, 2016

What is Culture Shock?

Culture Shock is the situation which a person experiences once he moves from one place to another with difference of cultures which has different rituals, ceremonies etc. Culture shock is not a positive experience for an individual and it has a negative collocation.

This concept becomes very important in companies which sends its executive on foreign deputation for considerably long period. It is part of international human resource management practices.

When employees are sent on foreign deputation, culture shock happen in two important ways as follows

1. When employees are sent to new culture (Expatriation)

2. When employee goes back to the own culture which he had left (Repatriation)

The important thing about culture shock is that experience may not be the same for every individual. Someone may adjust to the culture in weeks or someone it might take more time.

When a person enters new culture, every new incident become the leaning point for him. He encounters a shock which becomes his learning in new culture. The person has to find some meaning out of events that are unfolding before him. It is his/her ability of person to adjust to new culture that become important.

In case of repatriation also, there is cultural shock due to fact that person coming to his own culture expects everything to be as it was when he left it. But things would have changed in that culture. Another points is about values and belief systems that person has acquired from new culture would prevent him from coping up with his very own culture. So this becomes the problem of unfreezing-learning-freezing. When person come back to same culture he has to again pass through unfreezing phase in order to accommodate himself in that culture.

Culture Shock has important role in employee transfers from one culture to other culture but its effect can be reduced by creating awareness about new culture before actually going in to that culture.


Hence, this concludes the definition of Culture Shock along with its overview.

This article has been researched & authored by the Business Concepts Team. It has been reviewed & published by the MBA Skool Team. The content on MBA Skool has been created for educational & academic purpose only.

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