Our research not only addresses the strategic purposes of expatriate assignments within multinational corporations but, unlike most earlier studies, extends the investigation to include their path-dependent outcomes. Adopting a knowledge transfer perspective we first re-define the principal assignment purpose categories of Edstrom and Galbraith (1977a) as business applications, organization applications and expatriate learning. These purpose categories are then conceptually related in terms of a four-part typological matrix based on individual-level knowledge-flow direction and role focus. Following a review of prior assignment purpose studies we posit that strategic expatriate assignment purposes should be considered not in isolation but relative to their potential outcomes. Adopting a single-case research design with multi-method data collection, we demonstrate the emergent nature of strategic assignment outcomes. It is shown for our transnational case organization that knowledge acquisition or learning by expatriates is an underestimated strategic assignment outcome, more so than either business or organization-related knowledge applications.
|Journal||International Journal of Human Resource Management|
|Publication status||Published - May 2004|
- multinational corporations
- strategic IHRM