How you see me, how you don’t: Ethnic identity self-verification in interactions between local subsidiary employees and ethnically similar expatriates

Shea X. Fan, Anne-wil Harzing, Tine Köhler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-27
JournalInternational Journal of Human Resource Management
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Mar 2018

Fingerprint

Personnel
Expatriates
Employees
Subsidiaries
Local interaction
Ethnic identity
Industry
Interaction
Ethnic groups

Keywords

  • self-verification
  • ethnic identity
  • expatriats
  • host country employees
  • MNCs

Cite this

@article{69f33258069d4ff380609a52e659ea67,
title = "How you see me, how you don’t: Ethnic identity self-verification in interactions between local subsidiary employees and ethnically similar expatriates",
abstract = "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.",
keywords = "self-verification, ethnic identity, expatriats, host country employees, MNCs",
author = "Fan, {Shea X.} and Anne-wil Harzing and Tine K{\"o}hler",
year = "2018",
month = "3",
doi = "10.1080/09585192.2018.1448294",
language = "English",
pages = "1--27",
journal = "International Journal of Human Resource Management",
issn = "0958-5192",
publisher = "ROUTLEDGE JOURNALS, TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - How you see me, how you don’t

T2 - Ethnic identity self-verification in interactions between local subsidiary employees and ethnically similar expatriates

AU - Fan, Shea X.

AU - Harzing, Anne-wil

AU - Köhler, Tine

PY - 2018/3

Y1 - 2018/3

N2 - 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.

AB - 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.

KW - self-verification

KW - ethnic identity

KW - expatriats

KW - host country employees

KW - MNCs

U2 - 10.1080/09585192.2018.1448294

DO - 10.1080/09585192.2018.1448294

M3 - Article

SP - 1

EP - 27

JO - International Journal of Human Resource Management

JF - International Journal of Human Resource Management

SN - 0958-5192

ER -