Cultural Adjustment and Social Support as Key Determinants of International Student Satisfaction: A Comparative Study on Six Countries in Europe and the USA

Wei Lu, Kristina Tamayo-Verleine, Anne-Marie Søderberg, Sheila Puffer, Stephan Meschke

Publikation: KonferencebidragPaperForskningpeer review


The number of students studying outside their home countries has rapidly increased over the past two decades. It is crucial for their host higher educational institutions to understand the factors that affect these students’ satisfaction in their chosen host countries. Such knowledge can help address the needs of international students, retain them through completion of their academic journeys, and encourage them to spur others to study in the host country. The purpose of this paper is to investigate several key factors as determinants of satisfaction of students studying business and other fields in five European countries (Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, and Poland), and in the United States. The sample consisted of 1183 respondents from 10 universities in the six countries who completed a survey created by a multinational research team. Based on previous studies, the independent variables investigated were self-reported English language proficiency, host language proficiency, intercultural competence, cultural adjustment, and social support. Hierarchical regressions found that cultural adjustment and social support were significantly related to the overall satisfaction of international students across the six countries. Although English language proficiency, host language proficiency and intercultural competence had a significant positive relationship with overall satisfaction in the intermediate models, the effect of these three variables became nonsignificant when cultural adjustment and social support were entered into the model. A follow up analysis among the six countries found that, for Finland, host language proficiency was also significantly related to overall satisfaction. Additionally, variations in the importance of cultural adjustment and social support on satisfaction were found across the six countries. The study has implications for three key stakeholders. First, international students may decide to select a host country based on the satisfaction of their compatriots, and satisfaction may lead to positive performance outcomes. Second, host country educational institutions can offer training in cultural adjustment and provide social support programs and activities to promote international student satisfaction. Satisfaction in turn may lead to higher retention rates and higher reputation for the institution. Third, host country employers may have greater success in recruiting international student graduates by providing cultural adjustment training and social support to increase the satisfaction of international students educated in the host country. The paper concludes with recommendations for future research.
Antal sider40
StatusUdgivet - 2022
BegivenhedEuropean Academy of Management 2022 Annual Conference (EURAM) 2022: Leading Digital Transformation - ZHAW School of Management and Law, Zürich, Schweiz
Varighed: 15 jun. 202217 jun. 2022
Konferencens nummer: 22


KonferenceEuropean Academy of Management 2022 Annual Conference (EURAM) 2022
LokationZHAW School of Management and Law


  • International students
  • Satisfaction
  • Cultural adjustment
  • Social support
  • Comparative study