Intercultural transformation processes

The transformation expats experience when immigrating to the Netherlands is logical in light of the literature on the subject. Wiseman described that cultural transformation evolves in cycles. He defined the transformation cycle as following:


When immigrating to a different country one is confronted with their own moral standards, boundaries and behaviour. Another author calles this phase illiminal vulnerability. The vulnerability an immigrant senses can lead to resistance, denial, avoidance and withdrawal.

(That explains why immigrants form ghettos in their new country and why Louise Dancet went to look for other expats after having dealt with her husbands Dutch friends and relatives.)


Luckily in a second phase one will adapt certain customs and start behaving like the locals do. That doesn’t however imply that moral standards or convictions have changed, as they take much longer to adapt.


If adapation works out for the immigrant, the resistance against the new culture will be reduced. If the new cultural environment embraces the immigrant this will reinforce the adaptationprocess.

How does this theory imply to mediation or coaching?

To be able to offer help it is important to deal with resistance by detecting it and making it visible. It is equally important to create an understanding of other ideas, visions and wishes. In the case of a conflict the mediator will also help parties to come to a generally accepted definition of the conflict.

When people have a different cultural background Unfold Conflicts will help parties to recognise and accept each others conceptions and cultural notions. This will help the parties to learn that recognition and acceptance does not imply that one steps away from one’s own convictions and traditions.

In depth knowledge about Intercultural Transformation Processes is necessary to create cultural awareness without giving in to prejudgement and stereotypes. This is something Unfold Conflicts offers.