How inpatriation supports subsidiary growth and performance
Introducing my paper with Heejin and Sebastian on how inpatriation contributes ot subsidiary capability building and evolution
One of the joys of working in academia is being able to choose who you work with. When Heejin Kim, who visited me at Middlesex University (see Sabbatical at Middlesex University London: a story of swans and unicorns) asked me to join on a paper on inpatriation I happily agreed. I also asked Sebastian Reiche, one of my former PhD students to join forces with us.
The whole collaboration was an absolute delight, combining the best of relationship-oriented and scholarly-professional rationales (see On academic life: collaborations and active engagement). Fortunately, this paper didn't just have nice co-authors, but also a great editor and brilliant reviewers (thank you whoever you are!). So our journey was a relatively smooth one. Heejin will be writing a longer blogpost about our paper soon, but I couldn't wait to share the good news today.
- Kim, H.; Reiche, B.S.; Harzing, A.W. (2022) How does successive inpatriation contribute to subsidiary capability building and subsidiary evolution? An organizational knowledge creation perspective, Journal of International Business Studies, vol. 53, no. 7, pp. 1394-1419. Available online... - Publisher's version (free access) - Related blog post - Short video
Intra-company knowledge transfer is a key source of competitive advantage for multinational companies (MNCs) and this knowledge is usually embedded in individuals. Drawing on organizational knowledge creation theory, we explore how inpatriation contributes to knowledge transfer and, in turn, subsidiary performance. Inpatriation involves the international assignment of employees from an MNC’s foreign subsidiary to its headquarters. Despite increasing attention to the role of inpatriation, we lack a clear understanding of whether and how inpatriates provide value to their subsidiaries after returning from headquarters.
Through a qualitative case study of Japanese MNCs, we demonstrate the process through which inpatriates’ knowledge transfer contributes to subsidiary capability building and subsidiary evolution over time, and explain why successive inpatriation is thus critical to enhance subsidiary performance. Our theoretical model highlights the value of inpatriates as knowledge agents, reveals the process through which inpatriates transfer knowledge between HQ and subsidiaries, and provides a more nuanced understanding of the micro-foundations of intra-MNC knowledge transfer processes. Based on these findings, we argue that inpatriation is not merely a staffing method that is complementary to expatriation, but a key practice in its own right to support subsidiaries’ growth and performance.
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Copyright © 2022 Anne-Wil Harzing. All rights reserved. Page last modified on Fri 16 Sep 2022 16:31
Anne-Wil Harzing is Professor of International Management at Middlesex University, London and visiting professor of International Management at Tilburg University. She is a Fellow of the Academy of International Business, a select group of distinguished AIB members who are recognized for their outstanding contributions to the scholarly development of the field of international business. In addition to her academic duties, she also maintains the Journal Quality List and is the driving force behind the popular Publish or Perish software program.