The role of expatriate managers within foreign subsidiaries: a micro-level examination

Haynes, Rochelle (2018) The role of expatriate managers within foreign subsidiaries: a micro-level examination. In: European International Business Academy, 2 - 4 December 2016, Vienna.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Paper)
Item Status:Live Archive


The last forty years has seen the development of significant literature and research examining
the role of expatriate staff within the multinational context. Since Edstrom and Galbraith (1977)
identified the three main purposes of expatriates as knowledge transfer, management
development and coordination and control, subsequent research has confirmed that these
functions continue to be the main reasons for assigning staff to foreign subsidiaries (e.g.
Hocking et al., 2004). What remains under-investigated, however, is how the functions for
which expatriate managers are assigned are fulfilled at a micro- or individual-level. Among the
reasons given for this is the distinct and path-dependent nature of individual expatriate
assignments (Torbiorn, 1994; Hocking et al., 2004). Nonetheless, research within the
boundary-spanning literature (Johnson and Duxbury, 2010), and even more recent expatriate
literature (Haynes and Almond, 2015) have indicated that a combination of various individuallevel
activities commonly undertaken by international assignees can indeed be identified.
Using a multiple case-study approach, which included 60 semi-structured interviews across
firms from eight different countries of origin (US, Spain, France, Japan, Germany, UK, India,
and Denmark), this paper has identified several micro-level activities which contribute to the
fulfilment of expatriate functions within foreign subsidiaries. These activities included
translation, mentorship, apprenticeship, coordinator, investigator, internal negotiator, firefighter,
ambassador, and networker. These individual-level roles bare significant implications
for talent management, and the development, preparation and success of current and potential
international assignees within multinational companies (MNCs).

Keywords:Expatriate managers, knowledge transfer, management development, control, dynamic capabilities, career capital
Subjects:N Business and Administrative studies > N110 European Business studies
N Business and Administrative studies > N100 Business studies
N Business and Administrative studies > N120 International Business studies
Divisions:Lincoln International Business School
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ID Code:31021
Deposited On:08 Feb 2018 11:52

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