Multinational corporations often assign expatriates who share an ethnicity with host country employees (termed ethnically similar expatriates) to work on international assignments. Although sharing an ethnicity with local employees can be an advantage, it also creates a unique identity challenge. In this article, we develop the argument that ethnic similarity might in fact threaten expatriate-local employee interactions if the two parties hold divergent views towards the importance of expatriates’ ethnic identity in their interactions. Drawing on self-verification theory, we explain why people desire to achieve congruence between how they view their own identity and how others view this identity. Subsequently, we identify key cultural and personal constraints affecting expatriates’ efforts to achieve ethnic identity self-verification. We also illustrate how unfulfilled ethnic identity self-verification affects ethnically similar expatriates, local employees and their interactions. Our study, thus, introduces a new angle to understand expatriate-local employee interactions and advances self-verification research by demonstrating the challenges in achieving ethnic identity self-verification when two social parties share an ethnicity.
|Journal||International Journal of Human Resource Management|
|Publication status||E-pub ahead of print - Mar 2018|
- ethnic identity
- host country employees
Fan, S. X., Harzing, A., & Köhler, T. (2018). How you see me, how you don’t: Ethnic identity self-verification in interactions between local subsidiary employees and ethnically similar expatriates. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 1-27. https://doi.org/10.1080/09585192.2018.1448294