This page contains online versions of Anne-Wil's papers and publications. For more of Anne-Wil's publications, see:
- White papers
- Publications by type (complete list of all my publications by type)
- Publications by year (all publications by year)
- Ten career-best publications (the ones I consider most significant)
- Harzing.com paper series
June 2017 - We investigate the coverage of Microsoft Academic (MA) just over a year after its re-launch. First, we provide a detailed comparison for the first author’s record across the four major data sources: Google Scholar (GS), MA, Scopus and Web of Science (WoS) and show that for the most important academic publications, journal articles and books, GS and MA display very similar publication and citation coverage, leaving both Scopus and WoS far behind, especially in terms of citation counts.
A second, large scale, comparison for 145 academics across the five main disciplinary areas confirms that citation coverage for GS and MA is quite similar for four of the five disciplines. MA citation coverage in the Humanities is still substantially lower than GS coverage, reflecting MA’s lower coverage of non-journal publications. However, we shouldn’t forget that MA coverage for the Humanities still dwarfs coverage for this discipline in Scopus and WoS.
It would be desirable for other researchers to verify our findings with different samples before drawing a definitive conclusion about MA coverage. However, based on our current findings we suggest that, only one year after its re-launch, MA is rapidly become the data source of choice; it appears to be combining the comprehensive coverage across disciplines, displayed by GS, with the more structured approach to data presentation, typical of Scopus and WoS. The phoenix seems to be ready to leave the nest, all set to start its life into an adulthood of research evaluation.
May 2017 - A fast growing number of studies demonstrates that language diversity influences almost all management decisions in modern multinational corporations. Whereas no doubt remains about the practical importance of language, the empirical investigation and theoretical conceptualization of its complex and multifaceted effects still presents a substantial challenge. To summarize and evaluate the current state of the literature in a coherent picture informing future research, we systematically review 264 articles on language in international business.
We scrutinize the geographic distributions of data, evaluate the field’s achievements to date in terms of theories and methodologies, and summarize core findings by individual, group, firm, and country levels of analysis. For each of these dimensions, we then put forward a future research agenda. We encourage scholars to transcend disciplinary boundaries and to draw on, integrate, and test a variety of theories from disciplines such as psychology, linguistics, and neuroscience to gain a more profound understanding of language in international business. We advocate more multi-level studies and cross-national research collaborations and suggest greater attention to potential new data sources and means of analysis.
Host country employees’ ethnic identity confirmation: Evidence from interactions with ethnically similar expatriates
May 2017 - Employing expatriates who share an ethnicity with host country employees (HCEs) is a widespread expatriate selection strategy. However, little research has compared how expatriates and HCEs perceive this shared ethnicity.
Drawing upon an identity perspective, we propose HCEs’ ethnic identity confirmation, the level of agreement between how an HCE views the importance of his/her own ethnic identity and how expatriates view the importance of the HCE’s ethnic identity, affects HCEs’ attitudes towards ethnically similar expatriates. Results of two experiments show that HCEs’ ethnic identity confirmation is related to HCEs’ perception of expatriates’ trustworthiness and knowledge-sharing intention.
November 2016 - The main objective of this paper is to empirically test whether the identification of highly-cited documents through Google Scholar is feasible and reliable. To this end, we carried out a longitudinal analysis (1950 to 2013), running a generic query (filtered only by year of publication) to minimise the effects of academic search engine optimisation. This gave us a final sample of 64,000 documents (1,000 per year). The strong correlation between a document’s citations and its position in the search results (r= -0.67) led us to conclude that Google Scholar is able to identify highly-cited papers effectively.
This, combined with Google Scholar’s unique coverage (no restrictions on document type and source), makes the academic search engine an invaluable tool for bibliometric research relating to the identification of the most influential scientific documents. We find evidence, however, that Google Scholar ranks those documents whose language (or geographical web domain) matches with the user’s interface language higher than could be expected based on citations. Nonetheless, this language effect and other factors related to the Google Scholar’s operation, i.e. the proper identification of versions and the date of publication, only have an incidental impact. They do not compromise the ability of Google Scholar to identify the highly-cited papers.
The benefits of being understood: The role of ethnic identity confirmation in expatriate-local employee interactions
November 2016 - 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.
November 2016 - In this article, we compare publication and citation coverage of the new Microsoft Academic with all other major sources for bibliometric data: Google Scholar, Scopus, and the Web of Science, using a sample of 145 academics in five broad disciplinary areas: Life Sciences, Sciences, Engineering, Social Sciences, and Humanities. When using the more conservative linked citation counts for Microsoft Academic, this data-source provides higher citation counts than both Scopus and the Web of Science for Engineering, the Social Sciences, and the Humanities, whereas citation counts for the Life Sciences and the Sciences are fairly similar across these three databases. Google Scholar still reports the highest citation counts for all disciplines.
When using the more liberal estimated citation counts for Microsoft Academic, its average citations counts are higher than both Scopus and the Web of Science for all disciplines. For the Life Sciences, Microsoft Academic estimated citation counts are higher even than Google Scholar counts, whereas for the Sciences they are almost identical. For Engineering, Microsoft Academic estimated citation counts are 14% lower than Google Scholar citation counts, whereas for the Social Sciences this is 23%. Only for the Humanities are they substantially (69%) lower than Google Scholar citations counts.
Overall, this first large-scale comparative study suggests that the new incarnation of Microsoft Academic presents us with an excellent alternative for citation analysis. We therefore conclude that the Microsoft Academic Phoenix is undeniably growing wings; it might be ready to fly off and start its adult life in the field of research evaluation soon.
July 2016 - Van Witteloostuijn’s (2016) commentary “What happened to Popperian Falsification?” is an excellent summary of the many problems that plague research in the (Social) Sciences in general and (International) Business & Management in particular. As van Witteloostuijn (2016:pp] admits his “[...] diagnosis is anything but new – quite the contrary”, nor is it applicable only to the Social Sciences. When preparing this note, I was reminded of Cargo Cult Science, a 1974 Caltech commencement address by Physicist Richard Feynman (Feynman, 1974), which – more than four decades ago – makes many of the same points, including the pervasive problem of a lack of replication studies, which will be the topic of this short rejoinder.
Conducting replication studies is more difficult in International Business (IB) than it is in many other disciplines. For instance in Psychology – a discipline that favours experimental research – one might be able to replicate a particular study within weeks or, in some cases, even days. However, in IB data collection is typically very time-consuming and fraught with many problems not encountered in purely domestic research (for a summary see Harzing, Reiche & Pudelko, 2013). Moreover, most journals in our field only publish articles with novel research findings and a strong theoretical contribution, and are thus not open to replication studies. To date, most studies in IB are therefore unique and are never replicated. This is regrettable, because even though difficult, replication is even more essential in IB than it is in domestic studies, because differences in cultural and institutional environments might limit generalization from studies conducted in a single home or host country.
Somehow though, pleas for replication studies – however well articulated and however often repeated – seem to be falling on deaf ears. Academics are only human, and many humans learn best from personal stories and examples, especially if they evoke vivid emotions or associations. Hence, in this note, instead of providing yet another essayistic plea for replication, I will attempt to argue “by example”. I present two short case studies from my own research: one in which the lack of replication resulted in the creation of myths, and another in which judicious replication strengthened arguments for a new – less biased – measure of research performance. Finally, I will provide a recommendation on how to move forward that can be implemented immediately without the need for a complete overhaul of our current system of research dissemination.
June 2016 - In comparison to the many dozens of articles reviewing and comparing (coverage of) the Web of Science, Scopus, and Google Scholar, the bibliometric research community has paid very little attention to Microsoft Academic Search (MAS). An important reason for the bibliometric community’s lack of enthusiasm might have been that MAS coverage was fairly limited, and that almost no new coverage had been added since 2012. Recently, however, Microsoft introduced a new service – Microsoft Academic – built on content that search engine Bing crawls from the web.
This article assesses Microsoft Academic coverage through a detailed comparison of the publication and citation record of a single academic for each the four main citation databases: Google Scholar, Microsoft Academic, the Web of Science, and Scopus. Overall, this first small-scale case study suggests that the new incarnation of Microsoft Academic presents us with an excellent alternative for citation analysis. If our findings can be confirmed by larger-scale studies, Microsoft Academic might well turn out to combine the advantages of broader coverage, as displayed by Google Scholar, with the advantage of a more structured approach to data presentation, typical of Scopus and the Web of Science. If so, the new Microsoft Academic service would truly be a Phoenix arisen from the ashes.
From dilemmatic struggle to legitimized indifference: Expatriates’ host country language learning and its impact on the expatriate-HCE relationship
June 2016 - We address the lack of knowledge concerning the role of host country languages in multinational corporations based on an inductive qualitative study involving 70 interviews with Nordic expatriates and host country employees (HCE) in China.
Building on the strongly discrepant views of expatriates and HCEs, we demonstrate how expatriates’ willingness to learn and use the host country language lead to different types of expatriate-HCE relationships, ranging from harmonious to distant or segregated. In doing so, we emphasize the subtle and fragile connection between expatriates’ attitude towards HCEs’ mother tongue and trust formation in addition to the construction of superiority-inferiority relationships.
What, who or where? Rejoinder to identifying research topic development in Business and Management education research using legitimation code theory
May 2016 - Arbaugh, Fornaciari and Hwang (2016) use citation analysis – with Google Scholar as their source of citation data – to track the development of Business and Management Education research by studying the field’s 100 most highly cited articles. In their article, the authors distinguish several factors that might impact on an article’s level of citations: the topic it addresses, the profile of the author(s) who wrote it and the prominence of the journal that the article is published in.
Although these three factors might seem rather intuitive, and the authors certainly are not the first to identify them, there is a surprising dearth of studies in the bibliometrics literature that attempt to disentangle the relative impact of these factors on citation outcomes. Yet, this question is of considerable relevance in the context of academic evaluation. If citation levels of individual articles are determined more by what is published (topic) and who publishes it (author) rather than by where it is published (journal), this would provide clear evidence that the frequently used practice of employing the ISI journal impact factor to evaluate individual articles or authors is inappropriate.
November 2015 - This article aims to provide a systematic and comprehensive comparison of the coverage of the three major bibliometric databases: Google Scholar, Scopus and the Web of Science. Based on a sample of 146 senior academics in five broad disciplinary areas, we therefore provide both a longitudinal and a cross-disciplinary comparison of the three databases.
Our longitudinal comparison of eight data points between 2013 and 2015 shows a consistent and reasonably stable quarterly growth for both publications and citations across the three databases. This suggests that all three databases provide sufficient stability of coverage to be used for more detailed cross-disciplinary comparisons.
Our cross-disciplinary comparison of the three databases includes four key research metrics (publications, citations, h-index, and hI,annual, an annualised individual h-index) and five major disciplines (Humanities, Social Sciences, Engineering, Sciences and Life Sciences). We show that both the data source and the specific metrics used change the conclusions that can be drawn from cross-disciplinary comparisons.
Health warning: Might contain multiple personalities. The problem of homonyms in Thomson Reuters Essential Science Indicators
August 2015 - Author name ambiguity is a crucial problem in any type of bibliometric analysis. It arises when several authors share the same name, but also when one author expresses their name in different ways. This article focuses on the former, also called the “namesake” problem. In particular, we assess the extent to which this compromises the Thomson Reuters Essential Science Indicators (ESI) ranking of the top 1% most cited authors worldwide. We show that three demographic characteristics that should be unrelated to research productivity – name origin, uniqueness of one’s family name, and the number of initials used in publishing – in fact have a very strong influence on it.
In contrast to what could be expected from Web of Science publication data, researchers with Asian names – and in particular Chinese and Korean names – appear to be far more productive than researchers with Western names. Furthermore, for any country, academics with common names and fewer initials also appear to be more productive than their more uniquely named counterparts. However, this appearance of high productivity is caused purely by the fact that these “academic superstars” are in fact composites of many individual academics with the same name. We thus argue that it is high time that Thomson Reuters starts taking name disambiguation in general, and non-Anglophone names in particular, more seriously.
Of journal editors and editorial boards: Who are the trailblazers in increasing editorial board gender equality?
July 2015 - Female academics continue to be under-represented on the editorial boards of many, but not all, management journals. This variability is intriguing, because it is reasonable to assume that the size of the pool of female faculty available and willing to serve on editorial boards is similar for all management journals. Thus, we focus on the characteristics of the journal editors to explain this variability; journal editors or editors-in-chief are the most influential people in the selection of editorial board members.
We draw on social identity and homosocial reproduction theories, and on the gender and careers literature to examine the relationship between an editor’s academic performance, professional age and gender, and editorial board gender equality. We collected longitudinal data at five points in time, using five-year intervals, from 52 management journals. To account for the nested structure of the data, a 3-level multilevel model was estimated. Overall, we found that the prospects of board membership improve for women when editors are high performing, professionally young, or female. We discuss these findings and their implications for management journals with low, stagnant, or declining representation of women in their boards.
Do we need to distance ourselves from the distance concept? Why home and host country context might matter more than (cultural) distance
April 2015 - We scrutinize the explanatory power of one of the key concepts in International Business: the concept of (cultural) distance. Here we focus on its effect on entry mode choice, one of the most researched fields in international business strategy. Our findings might, however, be equally be relevant for the field of International Business as a whole. Our analysis is based on a review of 92 prior studies on entry mode choice, as well as an empirical investigation in over 800 subsidiaries of MNCs, covering nine host and fifteen home countries across the world.
We conclude that the explanatory power of distance is highly limited once home and host country context are accounted for, and that any significant effects of cultural distance on entry mode choice might simply be caused by inadequate sampling. Entry mode studies in particular, and International Business research in general, would do well to reconsider its fascination with distance measures, and instead, focus first and foremost on differences in home and host country context. We argue that serious engagement with deep contextualization is necessary in International Business research to pose new and relevant questions and develop new and innovative theories that explain empirical phenomena.
Cross-cultural management and language studies within international business research: Past and present paradigms and suggestions for future research
January 2015 - Our contribution seeks to (1) outline how cross-cultural management and, more recently, language studies developed as two interrelated subareas within international business research; (2) discuss the changing paradigms and orthodoxies under which empirical research in cross-cultural management and language studies has been executed, focusing in particular on what we consider shortcomings in past and present research; and (3) formulate our suggestions how research should develop in the future.
As such, our contribution offers a critical reflection on the evolution of this research area over time, combining elements of descriptive retrospection and analysis of the current situation with the normative elements of a position paper.
January 2015 - We draw on social identity theory to conceptualize a moderated mediation model that examines the relationship between shared language among subsidiary and HQ managers, and subsidiaries’ knowledge inflows from HQ.
Specifically, we study (1) whether this relationship is mediated by the extent to which subsidiary managers share HQ goals and vision, and the extent to which HR decisions are centralized; and (2) whether subsidiary type moderates these mediated relationships. Building on a sample of 817 subsidiaries in nine countries/regions, we find support for our model. Implications for research on HQ-subsidiary knowledge flows, social identity theory and international HRM are discussed.
Disseminating knowledge: from potential to reality – New open-access journals collide with convention
October 2014 - Scholars beware! For years, researchers have lamented the long lag times endemic in conventional academic publishing, where even the highest quality papers have often taken more than two years from initial submission to publication. Luckily, advances in digital technologies and the advent of online, open-access (OA) journals are rendering such delays obsolete. Society can now directly benefit from published research within months (and sometimes weeks) of a study being completed.
Unfortunately however, open-access, online technologies are interacting with new revenue-generating business models and historic assessment systems, leading to the rise of predatory open-access (POA) journals that prioritize profit over the integrity of academic scholarship. Such interaction is leading to disruptive distortions that are systematically undermining academia’s ability to disseminate the highest quality scholarship and to benefit from free, timely access.
June 2014 - The Dutch Economics top-40, based on publications in ISI listed journals, is - to the best of our knowledge - the oldest ranking of individual academics in Economics and is well accepted in the Dutch academic community. However, this ranking is based on publication volume, rather than on the actual impact of the publications in question. This paper therefore uses two relatively new metrics, the citations per author per year (CAY) metric and the individual annual h-index (hIa) to provide two alternative, citation-based, rankings of Dutch academics in Economics & Business. As a data source, we use Google Scholar instead of ISI to provide a more comprehensive measure of impact, including citations to and from publications in non-ISI listed journals, books, working and conference papers.
The resulting rankings are shown to be substantially different from the original ranking based on publications. Just like other research metrics, the CAY or hIa-index should never be used as the sole criterion to evaluate academics. However, we do argue that the hIa-index and the related citations per author per year metric provide an important additional perspective over and above a ranking based on publications in high impact journals alone. Citation-based rankings are also shown to inject a higher level of diversity in terms of age, gender, discipline and academic affiliation and thus appear to be more inclusive of a wider range of scholarship.
The bridging role of expatriates and inpatriates in knowledge transfer in multinational corporations
February 2014 - Drawing on the knowledge-based view of the firm, this paper provides the first empirical study that explicitly investigates the relationship between different categories of international assignees and knowledge transfer in multinational corporations (MNCs). Specifically, we examine (1) the extent to which expatriate presence in different functional areas is related to knowledge transfer from and to headquarters in these functions; and (2) the extent to which different categories of international assignees (expatriates vs. inpatriates) contribute to knowledge transfer from and to headquarters.
We base our investigation on a large scale survey, encompassing data from more than 800 subsidiaries of MNCs in thirteen countries. By disaggregating the role of knowledge transfer across management functions, directions of knowledge transfer, and type of international assignees, we find that (1) expatriate presence generally increases function-specific knowledge transfer from and, to a lesser extent, to headquarters; and that (2) the relevance of expatriates and former inpatriates varies for knowledge flows between headquarters and subsidiaries. Additionally, we discuss implications for research and practice, in particular regarding different management functions and different forms of international assignments, and provide suggestions for future research.
December 2013 - Hirsch’s h-index cannot be used to compare academics that work in different disciplines or are at different career stages. Therefore, a metric that corrects for these differences would provide information that the h-index and its many current refinements cannot deliver. This article introduces such a metric, namely the hI,annual (or hIa for short). The hIa-index represents the average annual increase in the individual h-index.
Using a sample of 146 academics working in five major disciplines and representing a wide variety of career lengths, we demonstrate that this metric attenuates h-index differences attributable to disciplinary background and career length. It is also easy to calculate with readily available data from all major bibliometric databases, such as Thomson Reuters Web of Knowledge, Scopus and Google Scholar. Finally, as the metric represents the average number of single-author-equivalent “impactful” articles that an academic has published per year, it also allows an intuitive interpretation. Although just like any other metric, the hIa-index should never be used as the sole criterion to evaluate academics, we argue that it provides a more reliable comparison between academics than currently available metrics.
October 2013 - Within the field of bibliometrics, there is sustained interest in how nations “compete” in terms of academic disciplines, and what determinants explain why countries may have a specific advantage in one discipline over another. However, this literature has not, to date, presented a comprehensive structured model that could be used in the interpretation of a country’s research profile and academic output. In this paper, we use frameworks from international business and economics to present such a model.
Our study makes four major contributions. First, we include a very wide range of countries and disciplines, explicitly including the Social Sciences, which unfortunately are excluded in most bibliometrics studies. Second, we apply theories of revealed comparative advantage and the competitive advantage of nations to academic disciplines. Third, we cluster our 34 countries into five different groups that have distinct combinations of revealed comparative advantage in five major disciplines. Finally, based on our empirical work and prior literature, we present an academic diamond that details factors likely to explain a country’s research profile and competitiveness in certain disciplines.
October 2013 - This study systematically investigates how language barriers influence trust formation in multinational teams (MNTs). Based on 90 interviews with team members, team leaders, and senior managers in 15 MNTs in three German automotive corporations, we show how MNT members’ cognitive and emotional reactions to language barriers influence their perceived trustworthiness and intention to trust, which in turn affect trust formation.
We contribute to diversity research by distinguishing the exclusively negative language effects from the more ambivalent effects of other diversity dimensions. Our findings also illustrate how surface-level language diversity may create perceptions of deep-level diversity. Furthermore, our study advances MNT research by revealing the specific influences of language barriers on team trust, an important mediator between team inputs and performance outcomes. It thereby encourages the examination of other team processes through a language lens.
Finally, our study suggests that multilingual settings necessitate a reexamination and modification of the seminal trust theories by Mayer, Davis and Schoorman (1995) and McAllister (1995). In terms of practical implications, we outline how MNT leaders can manage their subordinates’ problematic reactions to language barriers and how MNT members can enhance their perceived trustworthiness in multilingual settings.
Hablas vielleicht un peu la mia language?
A comprehensive overview of the role of language differences in headquarters-subsidiary communication
June 2013 - The management of human resources in headquarters (HQ)-subsidiary relationships requires intensive communication, but effective communication often depends on having a shared language. Hence, language differences can be a serious threat to the successful management of human resources in multinational corporations (MNCs). In this large-scale quantitative study, encompassing data from more than 800 subsidiaries in thirteen countries, we investigated four related issues.
First, in terms of the importance of language differences, we found that HQ-subsidiary relationships are clearly affected by language differences and that the latter form a distance category of their own, which should not be subsumed under the related, but separate concept of cultural differences. Second, regarding the consequences of language differences for communication outcomes, we found that a lack of a shared language is associated with misunderstanding, conflict and parallel information networks which could harm HQ-subsidiary interactions.
Third, with regard to the impact of language differences on communication methods, we found that alack of a shared language is associated witha significantly lower level of oral (face-to-face and phone) communication, but not written communication. Fourth, and finally, in terms of a potential solution to communication problems caused by language differences, we found that expatriates can facilitate both communication and knowledge transfer between HQ and subsidiaries.
February 2013 - Harzing (2013) showed that between April 2011 and January 2012, Google Scholar has very significantly expanded its coverage in Chemistry and Physics, with a more modest expansion for Medicine and a natural increase in citations only for Economics. However, we do not yet know whether this expansion of coverage was temporary or permanent, nor whether a further expansion of coverage has occurred. It is these questions we set out to respond in this research note.
We use a sample of 20 Nobelists in Chemistry, Economics, Medicine and Physics and track their h-index, g-index and total citations in Google Scholar on a monthly basis. Our data suggest that - after a period of significant expansion for Chemistry and Physics - Google Scholar coverage is now increasing at a stable rate. Google Scholar also appears to provide comprehensive coverage for the four disciplines we studied. The increased stability and coverage might make Google Scholar much more suitable for research evaluation and bibliometric research purposes than it has been in the past.
A preliminary test of Google Scholar as a source for citation data: A longitudinal study of Nobel Prize winners
May 2012 - Most governmental research assessment exercises do not use citation data for the Social Sciences and Humanities as Web of Science or Scopus coverage in these disciplines is considered to be insufficient. We therefore assess to what extent Google Scholar can be used as an alternative source of citation data. In order to provide a credible alternative, Google Scholar needs to be stable over time, display comprehensive coverage, and provide non-biased comparisons across disciplines. This article assesses these conditions through a longitudinal study of 20 Nobel Prize winners in Chemistry, Economics, Medicine and Physics.
Our results indicate that Google Scholar displays considerable stability over time. However, coverage for disciplines that have traditionally been poorly represented in Google Scholar (Chemistry and Physics) is increasing rapidly. Google Scholar’s coverage is also comprehensive; all of the 800 most cited publications by our Nobelists can be located in Google Scholar, although in four cases there are some problems with the results. Finally, we argue that Google Scholar might provide a less biased comparison across disciplines than the Web of Science. The use of Google Scholar might therefore redress the traditionally disadvantaged position of the Social Sciences in citation analysis.
March 2012 - Thomson Reuter’s ISI Web of Knowledge (or ISI for short) is used in the majority of benchmarking analyses and bibliometric research projects. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the limitations of data provided by ISI. This article deals with a limitation that disproportionally affects the Social Sciences: ISI’s misclassification of journal articles containing original research into the “review” or “proceedings paper” category.
I report on a comprehensive, 11-year analysis, of document categories for 27 journals in nine Social Science and Science disciplines. I show that although ISI’s “proceedings paper” and “review” classifications seem to work fairly well in the Sciences, they illustrate a profound misunderstanding of research and publication practices in the Social Sciences.
Language competencies, policies and practices in multinational corporations:
A comprehensive review and comparison of Anglophone, Asian, Continental European and Nordic MNCs
February 2012 - The importance of language differences in multinational companies (MNCs) can hardly be overlooked. This article therefore provides the first large-scale quantitative overview of language competencies, policies and practices in MNCs. It is based on data from more than 800 subsidiaries, located in thirteen different countries with headquarters in more than 25 different countries, which were aggregated into four distinct home country clusters. This comprehensive study allows us to differentiate prior conceptual or case-based findings according to home, host and corporate languages and to develop managerial implications which vary according to the different country clusters.
Challenges in International Survey Research: A review with illustrations and suggested solutions for best practice
January 2012 - When conducting international research projects, scholars face a myriad of challenges that reach beyond those encountered in domestic research. In this paper, we explore the specific issues related to international survey research, focusing on the different stages of the research process that include defining the study population and gaining data access, survey development, data collection, data analysis, and finally publication of the results. For each stage, we review the pertinent literature, provide illustrations based on examples from our own research projects, and offer possible solutions to address the inherent challenges by formulating suggestions for improving the quality of international survey research.
Explaining geographic diversity of editorial boards: the role of conference participation and English language skills
January 2012 - As the academic world has become smaller through developments such as international exchanges and electronic communication, editorial boards of management journals should have become more geographically diverse. However, we do not know what contributes to increased geographic diversity in editorial boards.
This paper examines geographic diversity in editorial boards in Management through secondary data from 57 journals over 20 years, covering approximately 16,000 editorial board members. We found that two factors partly predict the geographic diversity of editorial boards of management journals: a country’s representation in a top US and in a top European management conference, and a country’s use of the English language.
July 2011 - With the increasing globalisation of knowledge and management education, it is important that we build on our scanty understanding of trends and levels of geographic diversification in editorial board membership of management journals. Our study examines geographic diversity in editorial boards in Management over a 20-year period. It uses secondary data from 57 journals covering approximately 16,000 editorial board members.
We found that the geographic diversity of editorial boards (EBs) has increased in the last 20 years, but it is still low for most management journals. Further, two factors partly predict the geographic diversity of EBs of management journals: the editor’s country of residence and the field of research. We conclude that continued active management by editors, professional associations and individual academics alike is necessary to ensure that our editorial boards properly reflect the diverse management community.
January 2011 - International Management researchers often rely on surveys to collect their data. However, responses to survey questions can be biased by response styles, a respondent’s tendency to provide a systematic response to questions regardless of their content. Response styles vary across countries and individuals, but there is limited systematic research that investigates why they vary.
Our study investigates middle (MRS) versus extreme response styles (ERS), the tendency to use the middle or extreme categories on rating scales. We examine the impact of culture, different types of scale anchors and the level of knowledge of the topic in question on MRS and ERS.
We asked five groups of respondents (Chinese in China, Chinese in Australia, Anglo-Australians in Australia, and two groups of German students in Germany) to indicate on a 10-point scale whether certain employee attitudes or behaviour were more typically Australian (left-hand of the scale) or Chinese (right-hand of the scale). We then asked them how they would rate the performance (low to high on a 10-point scale) of an employee who displayed this attitude or behaviour.
Asian respondents showed higher MRS than Western respondents. When scale anchors referred to naturally opposing and mutually exclusive constructs (Australian versus Chinese) respondents showed more ERS than when they referred to level or degree of a construct (low-high performance). Knowledge of cross national differences resulted in higher ERS on behavioural questions but not on performance questions.
November 2010 - This study extends the work of Metz and Harzing (2009) on women’s representation in the editorial boards of 57 management journals from 1989 to 2004 by focusing on the development of gender diversity in editorial board membership over time.
We first add another time period (2005-2009) to their data. We then add empirical richness by conducting a more fine grained analysis of women’s representation at the various editorial board levels over time. In addition, this study analyses the development of female editorial board memberships over time for five management fields, journals of four different ranks, and two geographic regions. As a result, this study examines women’s representation in the editorial boards of 57 management journals over a period of 20 years (from 1989 to 2009).
Results showed an overall increase in women’s representation in the editorial boards of these 57 management journals (at board member, associate editor and editor in chief levels) in the last five years (2004-2009) to 22.4%. Despite several positive trends identified in this follow-up study, women’s representation as editorial board members continues to be inconsistent across five management fields, across four journal rankings and across two geographic regions.
November 2010 - We apply an organizational embeddedness perspective to examine international assignees’ retention with the organization. Specifically, we hypothesize that assignees’ social ties within and their perceived fit with the host unit positively relate to two sacrifices with leaving the organization: their firm-specific learning during the assignment and their perceived career prospects in the organization. Perceived career prospects is expected to predict subsequent retention, moderated by firm-specific learning.
These hypotheses are tested using a sample of 143 inpatriates in ten German multinationals with retention measured two and four years later. We show that inpatriates’ trusting ties with HQ staff and their fit with the HQ positively relates to their firm-specific learning and their perceived career prospects, and that the latter predicts their retention two and four years later.
Perceived career prospects mediates the direct relationship between inpatriates’ fit with the HQ and inpatriate retention, and the indirect relationship between inpatriates’ trusting ties with HQ staff and their retention. Furthermore, inpatriates’ firm-specific learning mitigates the effect of perceived career prospects on retention decisions two years later. We contribute to the organizational embeddedness, careers, and international business literatures by explaining when and how facets of organizational embeddedness relate to assignee retention.
February 2010 - With multinational corporations increasingly adopting English as a corporate language, the issue of language management and the pros and cons of language standardization have been widely debated in the literature. Our 17-country study considers whether the use of English as a common corporate language may cause difficulties, by empirically examining whether managerial reactions to specific leadership scenario-based situations change as a consequence of the language they use. Our results show that the choice of language (native or English) does not matter much for the studied leadership scenarios. Instead, leadership decisions and reactions depend more on cultural and situational context.
December 2009 - This chapter reviews the various staffing options in MNCs in general and then discusses different corporate motives for using international transfers as well as the different forms of international assignments available to MNCs. It also gives a detailed overview of the assignment process and presents a set of criteria for assessing assignment success.
November 2009 - The objective of this chapter is to develop suggestions as to how Japanese multinational corporations (MNCs) might best make use of foreign, here specifically American and German, HRM practices in order to reform their own HRM model. These suggestions are based on a large scale empirical study, encompassing responses from more than 800 HR managers. The learning possibilities for Japanese companies from abroad are analyzed on two different levels: at headquarters and at subsidiary level.
Based on empirical evidence, this chapter argues that for Japan, the American system serves as a powerful source of inspiration, highlighting the direction of change. However, in order to establish to what degree to change, more ‘moderate’ approaches – such as, for example, the German one – might provide additional sources of inspiration. In any case, no matter from where outside inspirations are taken, the Japanese socio-cultural context has to be taken fully into consideration, if this adaptation process is to lead to positive results.
November 2009 - Using interview data in eight German and Japanese corporate HQs and their subsidiaries in Japan or Germany, we provide the first large-scale empirical analysis of the language barrier and its solutions. We show that language is an important barrier, slowing down and increasing the cost of decision-making. Our research suggests no less than twelve different solutions, ranging from informal day-to-day solutions such as changing communication patterns and code-switching, to more structural solutions such as language training and a common corporate language. We confirm and extend previous research and conclude that future research should more explicitly consider the different configurations of language skills for HQ and subsidiary managers.
Cultural Accommodation and Language Priming. Competitive versus Cooperative Behavior in a Prisoner’s Dilemma Game
Aug 2009 - This paper explores three arguments. First, cultural accommodation by living in another culture for a while may have a long-lasting but partially dormant influence on behavior. Second, foreign language is a prime, activating behavior associated with this language. Third, a foreign language is expected to be a particularly forceful prime for those who have lived in a country where this language is spoken. We explore this logic in a prisoner’s dilemma quasi-experiment that focuses on competitive versus cooperative behavior.
Testing our predictions with 358 Dutch students, we found that previous exposure to an Anglophone culture with higher values for masculinity, performance orientation and assertiveness negatively influences cooperative behavior in a prisoner’s dilemma game when the game is played in English.
Rating Versus Ranking: What is the Best Way to Reduce Response and Language Bias in Cross-National Research
March 2009 - We propose solutions to two recurring problems in cross-national research: response style differences and language bias. In order to do so, we conduct a methodological comparison of two different response formats – rating and ranking. For rating, we assess the effect of changing the commonly used 5-point Likert scales to 7-point Likert scales. For ranking, we evaluate the validity of presenting respondents with short scenarios for which they need to rank their top 3 solutions.
Our results - based on two studies of 1965 undergraduate and 1714 MBA students in 16 different countries - confirm our hypotheses that both solutions reduce response and language bias, but show that ranking generally is a superior solution.
These findings allow researchers to have greater confidence in the validity of cross-national differences if these response formats are used, instead of the more traditional 5-point Likert scales. In addition, our findings have several practical implications for multinational corporations, relating to issues such as selection interviews, performance appraisals, and cross-cultural training.
November 2008 - Has university scholarship gone astray? Do our academic assessment systems reward scholarship that addresses the questions that matter most to society? Using international business as an example, this article highlights the problematic nature of academic ranking systems and questions if such assessments are drawing scholarship away from its fundamental purpose.
The article calls for an immediate examination of existing ratings systems, not only as a legitimate scholarly question vis a vis performance—a conceptual lens with deep roots in management research—but also because the very health and vibrancy of the field are at stake. Indeed, in light of the data presented here, which suggest that current systems are dysfunctional and potentially cause more harm than good, a temporary moratorium on rankings may be appropriate until more valid and reliable ways to assess scholarly contributions can be developed.
The worldwide community of scholars, along with the global network of institutions interacting with and supporting management scholarship (such as the Academy of Management, AACSB, and Thomson Reuters Scientific) are invited to innovate and design more reliable and valid ways to assess scholarly contributions that truly promote the advancement of relevant 21st-century knowledge and likewise recognize those individuals and institutions that best fulfill the university’s fundamental purpose.
November 2008 - Our study examines women’s representation in editorial boards in Management over a 15-year period viz à viz their representation as authors. It uses secondary data from 57 journals covering approximately 10,000 editorial board members and nearly 10,000 articles.
The results show that women continue to be under-represented in editorial boards in relation to their representation as first authors of articles published in those journals.
Three factors explain the under-representation of women in editorial boards: the field of study, the journal’s prestige and the editor’s gender. The persistent gender imbalance in the editorial boards of many Management journals in the last 15 years hinders women's ability to attain scholarly recognition and advancement, and carries the risk of narrowing the nature and scope of the enquiry in Management.
August 2008 - In the past couple of decades, multinational corporations (MNCs) have increasingly used international assignments as a key staffing mechanism to disperse knowledge resources across different organizational units. This chapter examines the role of inpatriates as conduits of bidirectional knowledge flows. Specifically, we (1) review the recent literature on knowledge transfer through international assignments, (2) discuss the role of inpatriate assignments and (3) explore the social processes that precede cross-unit knowledge sharing through inpatriation.
A Google Scholar H-Index for Journals: An Alternative Metric to Measure Journal Impact in Economics & Business
August 2008 - We propose a new data source (Google Scholar) and metric (Hirsch’s h-index) to assess journal impact in the field of Economics & Business. A systematic comparison between the Google Scholar h-index and the ISI Journal Impact Factor for a sample of 838 journals in Economics & Business shows that the former provides a more accurate and comprehensive measure of journal impact.
Descending from the ivory tower: Reflections on the relevance and future of country-of-origin research
August 2008 - In a provocative article in this journal, Jean-Claude Usunier (2006) summarises the critique on country of origin (COO) research and proclaims it to be ivory tower research that is of little relevance for consumers and businesses.
Against this background, our paper comments on recent studies criticising both past COO research and the relevance of the COO concept itself. We systematically counter the critique on COO research and provide reflections on the way forward for the field.
Despite acknowledging Usunier’s (2006) views that research in this area might be guided by feasibility, rather than theoretical and practical relevance, and suffers from self-referential dynamics and overspecialization, we are critical of his conclusions with regard to the extant literature, its achievements, and future research. We argue that COO is still a very relevant area of research, but one that does need to address several critical challenges.
May 2008 - Using data collected from 25 interviews with Austrian employees in the European Commission, we explore the conditions under which cultural differences do and do not influence interactions.
Previous experience with culturally-determined behaviour and experience working in a foreign language is found to foster norms that reduce conflict based on cross-cultural differences. Time pressure, on the other hand, makes cultural differences, specifically the way that criticism is delivered and the extent of relational-versus-task orientation, more explicit.
Our findings have implications for the design of training for multinational teams, as well as the composition of these teams.
April 2008 - Social interaction between managers from different units of a multinational corporation (MNC) has been shown to be an important factor stimulating intra-MNC knowledge sharing. Face-to-face social interactions form a communication channel particularly conducive to the transfer of tacit, non-codified knowledge. But intensive social interaction also provides opportunities for social construction of knowledge in a learning dialogue.
The first (sender-receiver) explanation makes us expect social interaction to positively moderate the effects of the factors giving rise to knowledge flows in the first place, such as differences in capabilities between MNC subsidiaries. The second (social learning) perspective also grants an independent effect to social interaction as a main factor stimulating intra-MNC knowledge flows. We formulate hypotheses based on both perspectives, and test these on data from 169 MNC subsidiaries.
Our findings show a considerable main effect of social interaction on all intra-MNC knowledge flows, confirming the expectations based on the social learning model. Interaction effects, based on the predictions of the sender-receiver model, are only partly confirmed. These findings suggest that future research should devote more attention to the social constitution of MNC knowledge.
The Role of International Assignees’ Social Capital in Creating Inter-Unit Intellectual Capital: A Cross-Level Model
February 2008 - We conceptualize international assignees as informational boundary spanners between MNC units and develop a cross-level model that explores how assignees’ social capital translates into inter-unit intellectual capital.
- First, as knowledge brokers, assignees create inter-unit intellectual capital by linking their home- and host-unit social capital, thereby enabling cross-unit access to previously unconnected knowledge resources.
- Second, as knowledge transmitters, assignees’ host-unit social capital facilitates their creation of individual intellectual capital which, in turn, translates into inter-unit intellectual capital.
We conclude that individual social capital needs to be explicitly transferred to the organizational level to have a sustained effect on inter-unit intellectual capital.
January 2008 - It should be the aim of any academic journal – or academic researcher for that matter – to make an impact. Although publishing high-quality papers is a noble aim in itself, if these papers do not have any impact, the activity would seem rather pointless. However, it is not easy to define impact or measure it objectively.
Our first question should be “impact on whom?”: other academics, students, managers, or the public at large. Traditionally, many academics in management have been most concerned with the impact of their work on other academics, and this is certainly what seems to be most highly rewarded in many universities.
Unfortunately, impact on practitioners and students is very difficult to quantify. Therefore, this short editorial by necessity focuses on the more limited academic impact only, assuming that at least some of the high academic impact papers will also have an impact on practice.
January 2008 - Xu, Yalcinkaya, and Seggie’s (2008) article, “Prolific authors and institutions in leading international business journals” published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Management, contributes to the important debate of how to fairly assess individual and institution productivity in international business (IB).
Rankings of authors and institutions, however, are subject to a range of potentially arbitrary decisions: choice of journals, weighting of data, and aggregation of individuals to an institutional level. This commentary briefly critiques Xu et al.’s article to exemplify some of the problems involved.
The Golden Triangle for MNCs:
Standardization towards Headquarters Practices, Standardization towards Global Best Practices and Localization
December 2007 - One of the most complex challenges that multinational corporations (MNCs) face is harmonizing the opposing forces of standardization versus localization.
Based on a large-scale survey of headquarters (HQs) and subsidiaries of American, Japanese and German MNCs, we provide evidence that MNCs can no longer afford to define standardization simply as the worldwide adoption of HQ practices.
Standardization can take place towards two different poles: HQ practices and global best practices, wherever they originate from. As we believe managing the challenge of localization versus standardization towards either HQ or global best practices is the key to MNC success we call it the Golden Triangle for MNCs.
We also argue that it is often standardization towards global best practices that is more relevant than either standardization towards HQ practices or localization. Hence our study supports what have been called geocentric or transnational corporate models, where worldwide learning and knowledge transfer is paramount, regardless of where the knowledge in question originates.
A Google Scholar H-Index for Journals:
A Better Metric to Measure Journal Impact in Economics & Business?
November 2007 - We propose a new metric and data source to assess journal impact in the field of Economics & Business. The metric Hirschs h-index improves on the traditionally used ISI Journal Impact Factor by providing a more robust and less time-sensitive measure of journal impact.
The data source Google Scholar provides a more comprehensive coverage of citations than ISI, including citations in books, conference and working papers and non-ISI indexed journals. A systematic comparison between the Google Scholar h-index and the ISI Journal Impact Factor for a sample of 838 journals in Economics & Business shows that the former provides a more accurate and more comprehensive measure of journal impact.
November 2007 - Traditionally, the most commonly used source of bibliometric data is Thomson ISI Web of Knowledge, in particular the (Social) Science Citation Index and the Journal Citation Reports (JCR), which provide the yearly Journal Impact Factors (JIF).
This paper presents an alternative source of data (Google Scholar, GS) as well as three alternatives to the JIF to assess journal impact (the h-index, g-index and the number of citations per paper). Because of its broader range of data sources, the use of GS generally results in more comprehensive citation coverage in the area of Management and International Business.
The use of GS particularly benefits academics publishing in sources that are not (well) covered in ISI. Among these are: books, conference papers, non-US journals, and in general journals in the field of Strategy and International Business.
The three alternative GS-based metrics showed strong correlations with the traditional JIF. As such, they provide academics and universities committed to JIFs with a good alternative for journals that are not ISI-indexed. However, we argue that these metrics provide additional advantages over the JIF and that the free availability of GS allows for a democratization of citation analysis as it provides every academic access to citation data regardless of their institutions financial means.
July 2007 - Creating rankings of academic journals is an important but contentious issue. It is of especial interest in the UK at this time (late 2005) as we are only two years away from the submission date for the next Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) the importance of which, for UK universities, can hardly be overstated.
The purpose of this paper is to present a journal ranking for business and management based on a statistical analysis of the Harzing dataset (Harzing, 2005). The primary aim of the analysis is two-fold – to investigate relationships between the different rankings, including that between peer rankings and citation behaviour; and to develop a ranking based on four groups that could be useful for the RAE.
Looking at the different rankings, the main conclusions are that there is in general a high degree of conformity between them as shown by a principal components analysis. Cluster analysis is used to create four groups of journals relevant to the RAE. The higher groups are found to correspond well with previous studies of top management journals and also gave, unlike them, equal coverage to all the management disciplines.
The RAE Business and Management panel have a huge and unenviable task in trying to judge the quality of over 10,000 publications and they will inevitable have to resort to some standard mechanistic procedures to do so. This work will hopefully contribute by producing a ranking based on a statistical analysis of a variety of measures.
Balancing Global and Local Strategic Contexts:
Expatriate Knowledge Transfer, Applications and Learning within a Transnational Organization
January 2007 - In this paper we investigate how expatriates contribute to the transnational firms strategic objectives of global efficiency, national (local) responsiveness, and worldwide learning.
We focus on their knowledge applications and experiential learning, two assignment-based outcomes of potential strategic value to the firm. We assess how these outcomes are impacted by the expatriates everyday knowledge access and communication activities, measured by their frequency and geographic extent.
Within our case organization, a prototype transnational firm, we find that the expatriates knowledge applications result from their frequent knowledge access and communication with the corporate headquarters and other global units of the firm.
In contrast, their experiential learning derives from a frequent access to host country (local) knowledge that is subsequently adapted to the global corporate context. From a practical perspective we view the knowledge gained through experiential learning as an invaluable resource for both present and future corporate assignments.
January 2007 - With this paper we intend to open up the debate on the influence of language on the way multinational companies (MNCs) manage their subsidiary operations.
We explain the importance of the field and expose a dearth of prior research. Subsequently, we define the language barrier and elaborate on the causes underlying this barrier, drawing on social identity theory. We then propose an integrative model that consists of two coupled vicious cycles: the communications cycle composed of the eight aspects of the language barrier and the management cycle.
The management cycle suggests implications of the language barrier for various aspects of the HQ-subsidiary relationship: strategic decision-making, organization and personnel selection, global integration strategies and autonomy and control procedures.
HRM practices in subsidiaries of US, Japanese and German MNCs:
Country-of-origin, localization or dominance effect?
January 2007 - This paper contributes to two recurring and very central debates in the international management literature: the convergence vs. divergence debate and the standardization vs. localization debate.
Using a large-scale sample of multinationals headquartered in the US, Japan and Germany as well as subsidiaries of multinationals from these three countries in the two other respective countries, we test the extent to which HRM practices in subsidiaries are characterized by country-of-origin, localization, and dominance effects.
Our results show that for German and Japanese subsidiaries the dominance effect is most important, i.e. their practices appear to converge to the dominant US practices. For US subsidiaries localization effects are particularly important.
Hence our results lead to the rather surprising conclusion that for what might be considered to be the most localized of functions HRM convergence to a world-wide best practices model is clearly present for Japanese and German multinationals. The lack of country-of-origin effects for Japanese and German multinationals leads us to a conclusion that is of significant theoretical as well as practical relevance. Multinationals might limit export of country-of origin practices to what they consider to be their core competences and converge to best practices in other areas.
How European is Management in Europe?
An Analysis of Past, Present and Future Management Practices in Europe
January 2007 - This paper sets out to investigate if the term European Management is justified or if national differences between management practices within Europe render this concept meaningless.
We argue that up to the late 1980s, management practices in Europe were still rather diverse, heavily influenced by different national traditions and institutional differences. From the early 1990s onwards, under the context of globalisation, convergence tendencies became more prevalent. However, the focal point was not so much a specific European management model, but the American model instead.
For the future we predict a more multi-polar world in which the virtual monopoly of the United States in setting the standards for best practices in management will weaken. In contrast, the European approach, which takes a more balanced approach between economic efficiency and social concerns, might become more important, providing an additional source of inspiration, both within Europe and beyond.
September 2006 - This chapter attempts to provide a comparison of country-of-origin effects for a very wide range of aspects of the HQ-subsidiary relationship and for two time periods: 1995 and 2002.
We will first discuss the sources and mechanisms of operation of the country-of-origin effect. Subsequently, we will explain our choice of organisational practices and countries. We then provide an overview of our methods and the results of our empirical investigation. A short discussion and conclusion section concludes the chapter.
The effect of corporate-level organisational factors on the transfer of human resource management practices:
European and US MNCs and their Greek subsidiaries
July 2006 - One of the central questions in the literature on multinational companies (MNCs) is the extent to which MNC subsidiaries act and behave as local firms (local isomorphism) versus the extent to which their practices resemble those of the parent company or some other global standard (internal consistency).
Drawing on the resource-based view and resource dependency theory, this paper aims to provide an insight into the interplay of several corporate-level organisational factors that affect the transfer of HRM practices across borders. Data collected from 80 European and US MNCs with subsidiaries in Greece is used to test specific hypotheses.
Our results indicate that the level of importance attached to HRM by the MNCs top management and the extent of international experience have the highest explanatory power for the transfer of HRM practices, while international competitive strategy, informal control and the presence of expatriates also have a marginally significant influence.
May 2006 - Studies of attitudes across countries generally rely on a comparison of aggregated mean scores to Likert-scale questions. This presupposes that when people complete a questionnaire, their answers are based on the substantive meaning of the items to which they respond.
However, people's responses are also influenced by their response style. Hence, the studies we conduct might simply reflect differences in the way people respond to surveys, rather than picking up real differ-ences in management phenomena across countries.
Our 26-country study shows that there are major differences in response styles between countries that both confirm and extend earlier research. Country-level characteristics such as power distance, collectivism, uncertainty avoidance and extraversion all significantly influence response styles such as acquiescence and extreme response styles.
Further, English-language questionnaires are shown to elicit a higher level of middle responses, while questionnaires in a respondent's native language result in more extreme response styles. Finally, English language competence is positively related to extreme response styles and negative related to middle response styles. We close by discussing implications for cross-national research.
Knowledge flows in MNCs:
An Empirical Test and Extension of Gupta & Govindarajan's Typology of Subsidiary Roles
December 2005 - This study offers an empirical test and extension of Gupta & Govindarajan's typology of subsidiary roles based on knowledge inflows and outflows. A four-fold typology of subsidiary roles - global innovators, integrated players, implementors and local innovators - is tested using a sample of 169 subsidiaries of MNCs headquartered in the US, Japan, UK, Germany, France and the Netherlands.
Results confirm the typology and show that different subsidiary roles are associated with different control mechanisms, relative capabilities and product flows. In comparison to earlier studies, our results show an increased differentiation between subsidiaries, as well as an increase in the relative importance of both knowledge and product flows between subsidiaries suggesting that MNCs are getting closer to the ideal-type of the transnational company.
Geographical Distance and the Role and Management of Subsidiaries:
The Case of Subsidiaries Down-Under
December 2005 - Based on a international mail survey covering 169 subsidiaries of MNCs headquartered in the USA, Japan, the UK, Germany, France and the Netherlands, we investigate the impact of geographical distance on the role that subsidiaries play in the MNC network and the way they are managed. To this end, we compare Australian and New Zealand subsidiaries - who provide a significant example of geographically isolation - with subsidiaries in other countries.
Referring to the typology constructed by Gupta & Govindarajan (1991), we show that Australian/New Zealand subsidiaries are more likely than subsidiaries in other countries to be Local Innovators rather than Global Innovators. In addition, both intra-company flows and the type of control mechanisms applied by HQ reflect their geographical isolation. Their overall level of capabilities is equal to that of other subsidiaries, although lower relative capabilities in R&D and production seem to be associated with lower levels of local R&D and production.
We discuss the implications of these findings and provide recommendations for management and competitiveness in Australia and New Zealand.
April 2005 - This paper investigates publication patterns of Australian academics in Economics & Business. I show that this discipline follows the general Australian trend of declining impact, measured as citations per paper, from the mid-1990s.
However, the gap in Australia's ranking of publication quantity (number of papers) and publication quality (impact) is much wider in Economics & Business than in other disciplines. The discipline combines the highest ranking in quantity with the lowest ranking in quality. Seven possible explanations for this pattern are discussed.
October 2004 - After the enlargement of the European Union (EU) with ten new countries on the 1st of May 2004, international labour mobility within the EU has become a rather contentious issue.
This article looks at international mobility for a highly skilled group of people: university students in Business & Commerce. In this context, we first investigate what students across Europe are looking for in their ideal job and show that students from both Eastern Europe and Turkey differ substantially from other European countries in this respect. In the second part of this article, we assess whether students are likely to move internationally by looking at the extent to which they are attached to their own country/language.
This analysis shows that, overall, students from Eastern Europe and Turkey are less keen to work internationally than students from many other European countries.
On the other hand, the final part of the article shows that students from Eastern Europe and Turkey generally seem well prepared for international work in terms of their language skills. They prefer to work in Anglophone and Southern European countries and previous international experience and language skills are shown to be a major influence on the extent and direction of international mobility.
June 2004 - In this article, we review the established understanding of the concept of expatriate failure, discuss its associated problems and present a more sophisticated and comprehensive understanding of the concept. We argue that it might well be time to abandon the concept of expatriate failure altogether and instead draw on the general HR literature to analyse problems related to turnover and performance management in an expatriate context.
April 2004 - Cross-national research is plagued by many obstacles. This article focuses on one of these obstacles: the fact that research in more than one country often involves subjects with different native languages.
We investigated whether the language of the questionnaire influences response patterns. More specifically we tested the cultural accommodation hypothesis: Do respondents subconsciously adjust their responses in a way that reflects the cultural values associated with the language of the questionnaire?
We tested this hypothesis with a sample of 3,419 undergraduate students in 24 countries. Half of the students in each country received an English-language questionnaire, while the other half received the same questionnaire in their native language.
Three types of questions were included in the questionnaire: questions about cultural norms and values, questions about characteristics of the ideal type of jobs that students would prefer after graduation, and questions about reasons for choosing elective subjects in their studies.
Comparison with a control group of students in the UK and the US showed cultural accommodation to be present in a substantial proportion of the comparisons for all three types of questions. Consequences and recommendations for cross-national research are discussed.
Host country specific factors and the transfer of Human Resource Management practices in Multinational companies
April 2004 - This article concerns the transfer of Human Resource Management (HRM) practices by multinational companies (MNCs) to their overseas subsidiaries. It investigates how factors originating from the cultural and institutional framework of the host country impact on this transfer.
Using data collected from MNC subsidiaries located in Greece and local Greek firms, we examine the degree to which several HRM practices in MNC subsidiaries resemble local practices.
Our empirical findings indicate that subsidiaries have adapted their HRM practices to a considerable extent, although some practices are more localised than others. Specifically, practices that do not fit well with Greek culture or are in contrast to employee regulations show a low level of transfer.
On the other hand, our interviews revealed that significant cultural changes are underway and that the institutional environment is gradually getting more relaxed, leaving more room to manoeuvre for MNCs.
January 2004 - Our research not only addresses the strategic purposes of expatriate assignments within multinational corporations but, unlike most earlier studies, extends the investigation to include their path-dependent outcomes.
Adopting a knowledge transfer perspective we first redefine the principal assignment purpose categories of Edström and Galbraith (1977a) as business applications, organization applications and expatriate learning. These purpose categories are then conceptually related in terms of a four-part typological matrix based on individual-level knowledge flow direction and role focus.
Following a review of prior assignment purpose studies we posit that strategic expatriate assignment purposes should be considered not in isolation but relative to their potential outcomes. Adopting a single case research design with multi-method data collection we demonstrate the emergent nature of strategic assignment outcomes.
It is shown for our transnational case organization that knowledge acquisition or learning by expatriates is an underestimated strategic assignment outcome, more so than either business or organization-related knowledge applications.
September 11, 2001:
Two quasi-experiments on the influence of threats on cultural values and cosmopolitanism
January 2004 - This article investigates whether the September 11 attacks had an impact on cultural values and the level of cosmopolitanism of US university students.
Extending a model proposed by Esses, Dovidio & Hodson (2002), we hypothesize a positive effect on the cultural dimensions of collectivism and hierarchy/power distance and a negative effect on cosmopolitanism.
Our results - drawn from two separate quasi-experimental studies - support the two latter hypotheses. In addition, supplementary analyses showed that, after the September 11 attacks, students exhibited a tendency to trade in variety, adventure and challenge for security and stability in their ideal job after graduation. Implications for management and for cross-cultural management research are discussed.
January 2004 - With this paper we intend to open up the debate on the influence of language on the way multinational companies (MNCs) manage.
We explain the importance of the field and expose a dearth of prior research. Subsequently, we define the "language barrier" and elaborate on the causes underlying this barrier. Finally, eight propositions are formulated with regard to the implications of the language barrier for a core aspect of the HQ-subsidiary relationship: the type of control mechanisms applied by HQ towards its subsidiaries.
December 2003 - This article investigates whether Human Resource Management in Greece is maintaining its national character or whether it is converging towards a model that potentially clashes with the country's traditional societal values. This issue fits in the wider convergence-divergence debate that has been the concern of many cross-cultural researchers.
Using data collected from Greek firms and subsidiaries of multinationals located in Greece, we compare the two groups on specific HRM practices. The aim is to show how HRM practices of Greek firms differ from those of MNCs subsidiaries and examine the extent and the way these HRM practices reflect Greek national culture.
Our empirical results indicate that HR practices in Greek firms reflect national culture to a great extent. Moreover, they imply that in some areas MNC subsidiaries have realised a considerable degree of adaptation, embracing practices that are in line with the Greek cultural environment.
The "Country-Of-Origin Effect" In Multinational Corporations:
Sources, Mechanisms And Moderating Conditions
June 2003 - This conceptual paper examines the role of country-of-origin effects in MNCs. It deals with definitional problems and discusses both the sources of the country-of-origin effect, and the mechanisms through which it manifests itself. The strength of the country-of-origin effect is hypothesized to be moderated by factors related to both the home country and the MNC.
January 2003 - In order to be able to advance scientific knowledge, researchers should consciously explore and critically evaluate alternative explanations of the phenomena under investigation. We feel that research in the area of entry mode choice has neglected these recommendations where it concerns the impact of cultural distance (CD) on entry mode choice.
In this article, we argue that sample idiosyncrasies, coupled with an almost blind confidence in one specific measurement of CD, have led researchers in this field to systematically overestimate the role of CD in entry mode decisions. We argue that specific home and/or host country characteristics are equally plausible explanatory factors for entry mode decisions decisions as CD and plead for a more sophisticated treatment of culture in the entry mode choice literature.
August 2002 - With this paper we intend to open up the debate on the influence of language on the way multinational organizations manage. We explain the importance of the field and expose a dearth of prior research.
Using sociolinguistic theories we define the "Language Barrier" and advance a series of propositions that propose an agenda for future empirical research in this area. We conclude by identifying the drivers underpinning the language barrier and use these to propose an approach for the future operationalization of the language barrier construct.
June 2002 - The importance of language management in multinational companies has never been greater than today. Multinationals are becoming ever more conscious of the importance of global co-ordination as a source of competitive advantage, and language remains the ultimate barrier to aspirations of international harmonization.
In this article, we will review the solutions open to multinational companies in terms of language management. Before doing so, however, we will discuss the aforementioned trend to globalisation, outline the dimensions of the language barrier and illustrate its consequences.
The interaction between language and culture:
A test of the cultural accommodation hypothesis in seven countries
March 2002 - This article investigates whether the language of the questionnaire influences response patterns. More specifically we test the cultural accommodation hypothesis: Do respondents subconsciously adjust their responses in a way that reflects the cultural values associated with the language in question?
We tested this hypothesis with a sample of undergraduate students in seven countries. Half of the students in each country received an English-language questionnaire, while the other half received the same questionnaire in their native language.
Three type of questions were included in the questionnaire: questions about cultural norms and values, questions about characteristics of the type of jobs student would prefer after graduation and questions about reasons for choosing elective subjects in their studies.
Cultural accommodation would be present when the mean scores for students who responded to the English-language questionnaire were closer to the mean scores of a control group of English students than to the mean scores of their fellow students who responded to the native language questionnaire.
This was shown to be the case for a substantial number of the cultural values and job characteristic questions but not for the elective questions. Consequences and recommendations for cross-cultural research are discussed.
November 2001 - The aim of this article is to get a clearer picture of why multinational companies (MNCs) send out expatriates. We identify three organisational functions of international transfers: position filling, management development and coordination & control.
Based on an empirical study with results from 212 subsidiaries of MNCs from 9 different home countries, located in 22 different host countries, we show that the importance that is attached to these functions differs between subsidiaries in MNCs from different home countries, between subsidiaries in different host regions and in addition varies with the level of cultural difference.
Position filling is seen as most important for subsidiaries of American and British MNCs and in the Latin American and Far Eastern region. Management development is seen as most important for subsidiaries of German, Swiss and Dutch MNCs and tends to occur more in Anglo-Saxon countries than in the Far Eastern region. Transfers for coordination & control seems to be most important for subsidiaries of German and Japanese MNCs and in host countries that are culturally distant from headquarters. We argue that these differences might have important consequences for expatriate management.
November 2001 - This book chapter investigates differences in HQ-subsidiary relationships in MNCs from two European countries: Britain and Germany. We also compare these countries to the US and Japan and assess to what extent conver-gence has taken place. For a more detailed discussion of the convergence versus divergence debate on a world-wide and European scale see Harzing and Sorge.
We argue that the generalization of results of studies of individual European countries to a wider European pattern is inappropriate even for multinational companies. European MNCs cannot be seen as a homogeneous group and due attention should be paid to the representation of European MNCs from different countries in any research design.
Societal embeddedness of internationalization strategies and corporate control in multinational enterprises:
World-wide and European perspectives
October 2001 - We examine the importance of societal embeddedness and universal contingencies in the organizational practices at the international level of multinational enterprises, based on a study comparing European (Finnish, French, German, Dutch, Swiss, Swedish, British), American and Japanese multinational enterprises.
Although multinationals are highly internationalized by definition, our study shows their organizational control practices at the international level to be more than anything else explained by their country of origin. Universal contingencies such as size and industry are on the other hand more related to internationalization strategy. Internationalization strategy and organizational control are associated with different sets of variables; to this extent they appear more de-coupled with regard to each other than the literature suggests.
Multinationals appear to follow tracks of co-ordination and control in which they have become embedded in their country-of-origin. Nationally specific institutions and culture have to be interpreted as particularistic but universally practicable facilitators of internationally competing organizational practices.
July 2001 - This study investigates executive staffing practices in foreign subsidiaries of MNCs. Firmly grounded in a literature review of the reasons for employing either PCNs (parent country nationals) or HCNs (host country nationals) in top management positions in foreign subsidiaries, a number of factors influencing the choice between these alternatives is identified. Using a combination of an archival and mail survey research method, the influence of each of these factors is empirically tested with a sample of nearly 3000 observations.
May 2001 - This article investigates the role of expatriate managers in multinational companies. We discuss three key organisational functions of expatriation: position filling, management development and organisation development. In the last function, international transfers are used as an informal co-ordination and control strategy.
The article explores this role of international transfers in detail and also refers to a direct way in which expatriates can control subsidiaries. A large-scale mail survey offers empirical evidence for the role that expatriates play in controlling foreign subsidiaries and shows under which circumstances the different types of control are most important.
May 2001 - This paper adds an important explanatory variable to the well-established list of factors shown to influence the choice between foreign acquisitions and greenfield investments: the international strategy followed by the multinational company (MNC) in question.
The MNC's international strategy is subsequently linked to the management of the two different entry modes by showing that differences in strategy are reflected in different headquarters-subsidiary relationships for acquisitions and greenfields. Some aspects of this relationship are also shown to change over time, a process that is mediated by the MNC's strategy.
Are our referencing errors undermining our scholarship and credibility?
The case of expatriate failure rates
May 2001 - This article suggests twelve guidelines for good academic referencing.
Using a citation network of 60 references on expatriate failure rates as a case study, I show that all of these guidelines are violated in published research.
Inappropriate referencing can lead to self-perpetuating myths as it has done in the area of expatriate failure rates where the firmly entrenched myth of high expatriate failure rates is shown not be substantiated by any empirical evidence.
The implications of this for both academics and practitioners are discussed. It appears that inappropriate referencing might actually be undermining our academic credibility.
June 2000 - This article describes the results of a cross-national industrial mail survey in 22 countries. Response rates are shown to vary considerably across countries and several explanations for these differences in response rates are put forward and tested.
Our results show that, when compared to non-respondents, respondents are geographically and culturally closer to the Netherlands (the country from which the questionnaires were sent), are more internationally oriented, work in smaller subsidiaries and in companies not listed on the Global Fortune 500 and come from countries with a lower level of power distance.
In addition, there is some indication that English language capacity might be a factor influencing response rates as well. Based on these results, various recommendations for improving response rates in cross-national mail surveys are put forward.
March 2000 - This study offers an empirical test and extension of the Bartlett and Ghoshal typology of MNCs. A threefold typology of multinational companies: global, multidomestic and transnational is induced from the literature.
This typology is tested using data from 166 subsidiaries of 37 MNCs, headquartered in nine different countries. Subsidiaries in the three types of MNCs are shown to differ significantly on aspects of interdependence, local responsiveness, control mechanisms and expatriate presence.
December 1997 - Researchers embarking on their first international mail survey find very little guidance in the present academic literature.
In 1988, two articles were published in the fall number of JIBS that claimed that: "at the moment the cross-national researcher has very little evidence upon which to base his judgments about [mail] survey design" (Jobber and Saunders, 1988:488) and "Literature concerned with response rates from industrial samples drawn from multiple countries is nearly absent" (Dawson and Dickinson, 1988:492).
Unfortunately, not much has changed since. Still, very little is known about how respondents from different countries react to mail surveys.
This article intends to fill part of this gap by describing the results of a large scale international mail survey in 22 countries. Response rates are shown to vary considerably across countries in a way that contradicts much of the earlier (American) research on this subject. Several explanations for these differences in response rates are put forward.
About the paucity of empirical research in IHRM
A test of the Downes framework of staffing foreign subsidiaries
June 1997 - This research note draws the attention to the harmful consequence of a serious lack of empirical research in the field of International Human Resource Management: myth-building on the basis of one or two publications.
The apparent myth of high expatriate failure rates is shortly discussed. To prevent another myth from appearing, this time in the field of staffing policies, this research note provides an empirical test of the framework proposed by Meredith Downes (1996) for making decisions about staffing foreign subsidiaries.
The propositions set forward by Downes are tested using a database of nearly 1800 subsidiaries located in twenty-two different countries. Headquarters of these subsidiaries are located in nine different countries and operate in eight different industries. Although the variables suggested by Downes have a fair explanatory power, some of the specific propositions had to be rejected.
May 1995 - This paper provides a critical analysis of research and notably of quotations in the field of expatriate failure rates. Over the last three decades it has become almost "traditional" to open an article on expatriate management by stating that expatriate failure rates are (very) high.
In this paper it is argued that there is almost no empirical foundation for the existence of high failure rates when measured as premature re-entry. The persistent myth of high expatriate failure rates seems to have been created by massive (mis)quotations of three articles. Only one of these articles contained solid empirical evidence on expatriate failure rates and in fact showed them to be rather low.
Copyright © 2017 Anne-Wil Harzing. All rights reserved. Page last modified on Fri 23 Jun 2017 20:58
Anne-Wil Harzing is Professor of International Management at Middlesex University, London. 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.