The benefits of being understood: the role of ethnic identity confirmation in knowledge acquisition by expatriates

Fan, Shea X., Cregan, Christina, Harzing, Anne-Wil ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1509-3003 and Koehler, Tine (2018) The benefits of being understood: the role of ethnic identity confirmation in knowledge acquisition by expatriates. Human Resource Management, 57 (1) . pp. 327-339. ISSN 0090-4848 (doi:10.1002/hrm.21839)

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Abstract

In this article, we propose that the concept of ethnic identity confirmation (EIC), the level of agreement between how expatriates view the importance of their own ethnic identity and how local employees view the importance of expatriates’ ethnic identity, can explain why expatriates who are ethnically similar to host country employees are sometimes less effective than expected when working overseas. Multinationals often choose ethnically similar expatriates for assignments, assuming these expatriates can more effectively acquire knowledge from local employees. Thus, understanding the specific challenges that endanger the realization of this potential is crucial.

Our survey, administered to a sample of 128 expatriate-local employee dyads working in China, reveals that both ethnically similar and ethnically different expatriates acquire more local knowledge when EIC is high. However, the association between ethnic (dis)similarity and knowledge acquisition is direct for ethnically different expatriates, whereas for ethnically similar expatriates it is indirect via their perception of local employees’ trustworthiness. We discuss this study’s important implications and provide recommendations for multinationals on how to provide tailored support to expatriates who face different identity challenges.

Item Type: Article
Research Areas: A. > Business School > International Management and Innovation > International and Cross-cultural Management group
Item ID: 20938
Notes on copyright: This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Fan SX, Cregan C, Harzing A‐W, Köhler T. The benefits of being understood: The role of ethnic identity confirmation in knowledge acquisition by expatriates. Hum Resour Manage. 2018;57:327–339., which has been published in final form at https://doi.org/10.1002/hrm.21839. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.
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Depositing User: Anne-Wil Harzing
Date Deposited: 15 Nov 2016 10:54
Last Modified: 08 Sep 2019 23:32
URI: https://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/20938

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