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

Fan, S, Cregan, C, Harzing, A and Kohler, T 2018, 'The benefits of being understood: The role of ethnic identity confirmation in  knowledge acquisition by expatriates', Human Resource Management, vol. 57, pp. 327-339.


Document type: Journal Article
Collection: Journal Articles

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Title The benefits of being understood: The role of ethnic identity confirmation in  knowledge acquisition by expatriates
Author(s) Fan, S
Cregan, C
Harzing, A
Kohler, T
Year 2018
Journal name Human Resource Management
Volume number 57
Start page 327
End page 339
Total pages 13
Publisher John Wiley
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 international 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.
Subject Human Resources Management
International Business
Keyword(s) International HRM
social identity theory
trust
knowledge management
diversity
DOI - identifier 10.1002/hrm.21839
Copyright notice © 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc
ISSN 0090-4848
Additional Notes This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Fan, S, Cregan, C, Harzing, A and Kohler, T 2018, 'The benefits of being understood: The role of ethnic identity confirmation in knowledge acquisition by expatriates', Human Resource Management, vol. 57, pp. 327-339., which has been published in final form at http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/hrm.21839. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions.
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