The bridging role of expatriates and inpatriates in knowledge transfer in multinational corporations

Harzing, Anne-Wil ORCID logoORCID:, Pudelko, Markus and Reiche, B. Sebastian (2016) The bridging role of expatriates and inpatriates in knowledge transfer in multinational corporations. Human Resource Management, 55 (4) . pp. 679-695. ISSN 0090-4848 [Article] (doi:10.1002/hrm.21681)

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Drawing on the knowledge-based view of the firm, this paper provides the first empirical study that explicitly investigates the relationship between different categories of international assignees and knowledge transfer in multinational corporations (MNCs). Specifically, we examine (1) the extent to which expatriate presence in different functional areas is related to knowledge transfer from and to headquarters in these functions; and (2) the extent to which different categories of international assignees (expatriates vs. inpatriates) contribute to knowledge transfer from and to headquarters.

We base our investigation on a large scale survey, encompassing data from more than 800 subsidiaries of MNCs in thirteen countries. By disaggregating the role of knowledge transfer across management functions, directions of knowledge transfer, and type of international assignees, we find that (1) expatriate presence generally increases function-specific knowledge transfer from and, to a lesser extent, to headquarters; and that (2) the relevance of expatriates and former inpatriates varies for knowledge flows between headquarters and subsidiaries. Additionally, we discuss implications for research and practice, in particular regarding different management functions and different forms of international assignments, and provide suggestions for future research.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Article first published online: 12 JAN 2015
Research Areas: A. > Business School > International Management and Innovation > International and Cross-cultural Management group
Item ID: 14510
Notes on copyright: This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Harzing, A.-W., Pudelko, M. and B. Sebastian Reiche, B. (2016), The Bridging Role of Expatriates and Inpatriates in Knowledge Transfer in Multinational Corporations. Hum Resour Manage, 55: 679–695. doi:10.1002/hrm.21681, which has been published in final form at 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: 27 Mar 2015 10:22
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2022 21:44

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