Current projects

I am working on several different projects at the moment. Let me know if you are interested to hear more!

Contact between international and local colleagues

During my research stay in New Zealand, I am carrying out a new project that focuses on the working relationships between international and local colleagues. Plenty of research has shown that good connections between expats and locals are important for performance, knowledge sharing, culture learning, social support and adjustment. But we actually don’t know all that much about how these relationships develop, and how the locals experience it.

I am currently looking for people who work in an international workplace in New Zealand, where international and local employees often work together. I am looking for people who would like to (anonymously) share their intercultural interactions during 4 workweeks:

  1. International employees who have arrived to work in New Zealand after the COVID-19 pandemic and work regularly with local colleagues from New Zealand.
  2. New Zealand citizens (preferably having grown up in New Zealand) who regularly work with international colleagues within the same workplace.

One can participate individually, though it would be ideal if an international and a local colleague from the same workplace would participate, so I get a more complete picture. Data are gathered per person through an app, are strictly confidential and will only be used in anonymised form (you can pick your own pseudonym!).

What is in it for you?

You will be able to let your experiences be heard. The lessons that will be derived from this study will hopefully contribute to improving intercultural relations between international and local colleagues in the future. Additionally, you will receive a free electronic version of my new book Breaking out of the Expat Bubble which is about making intercultural connections and friends, both within and outside of the workplace. I will also keep you posted on what I learn from this research – since 2013 I have been sending a yearly update about my research to all my research participants and others who are interested. Let me know if you’d like to receive the update as well! Please also keep an eye on my blog where I post about my research.

Are you interested in sharing your experiences, send me an e-mail at msvb[at]!

How can you make friends with host country nationals?

This is the focus of my forthcoming book Breaking out of the expat bubble with Routledge, coming out on 5 February 2024. This book is meant for expats and HR managers, and contains many practical recommendations on how to go about to create more connections between expats and host country nationals, both at work and in private life. As well as my own past research, it is based on 72 new interviews with expats around the world, about how they made friends abroad, which has led to a new model that shows how this process actually works.

The Host Country Liaison model

Working as an expat has always been full of challenges. An important aspect is dealing with the host culture because cultural differences and local ways of working can have a significant impact on the success of the expat assignment. We have constructed a questionnaire to help us more clearly understand how expats work together with local employees.