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

Article


Fan, S., Cregan, C., Harzing, A. and Köhler, T. 2018. The benefits of being understood: the role of ethnic identity confirmation in knowledge acquisition by expatriates. Human Resource Management. 57 (1), pp. 327-339. https://doi.org/10.1002/hrm.21839
TypeArticle
TitleThe benefits of being understood: the role of ethnic identity confirmation in knowledge acquisition by expatriates
AuthorsFan, S., Cregan, C., Harzing, A. and Köhler, T.
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 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.

Keywordsdiversity; international HRM; knowledge management; social identity theory; trust
Research GroupInternational and Cross-cultural Management group
LanguageEnglish
PublisherWiley
JournalHuman Resource Management
ISSN0090-4848
Electronic1099-050X
Publication dates
Online08 Sep 2017
Print23 Feb 2018
Publication process dates
Deposited15 Nov 2016
Accepted10 Nov 2016
Submitted12 Sep 2015
Output statusPublished
Accepted author manuscript
Copyright Statement

This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Fan SX, Cregan C, Harzing A‐W, Köhler T. The benefits of being understood: The role of ethnic identity confirmation in knowledge acquisition by expatriates. Hum Resour Manage. 2018;57:327–339., which has been published in final form at https://doi.org/10.1002/hrm.21839. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving https://authorservices.wiley.com/author-resources/Journal-Authors/li...

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1002/hrm.21839
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