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With an increasingly integrated global economy, the need to understand how national work contexts impact newcomers is critical. In particular, it is important to understand individuals' possible responses to interaction within multicultural work contexts. Blending theoretical perspectives on social identity, cross-cultural diversity, and identity formation/change, this paper explores the complex role played by dispositional and situational factors on acculturation strategies and, in turn, labour market outcomes. To guide this exploration, a theoretical model depicting the acculturation process is developed and presented. We posit that the relationship between cultural identity salience and acculturation strategy will be moderated by two key factors: desire for economic rewards and relational pressures. We further propose that acculturation strategy will influence the social networks and organizations that newcomers join, while these latter choices can help predict their income, employability, and advancement. We advance a number of testable propositions to stimulate future research and conclude with a discussion of the theoretical and practical contributions.

Practitioner Points

  • Recruitment processes should attract job applications from individuals with varying levels of cultural identity salience through wide-reaching job marketing campaigns.
  • Workgroup composition should reflect a diverse range of complementary skills.
  • Performance management and reward systems should reward employees for idea-sharing and achieving team goals.
  • HRM strategy should seek to gain a competitive advantage through fostering diverse skills.