Expatriates as a Knowledge Sharing Mechanism - A case study of A Professional Service Firm
Professional service firms are gaining more attention in the academic field today due to the improved importance of the sector in the developed world. When professional service firms internationalize, expatriation is a common tool for transferring company specific tacit and explicit knowledge, unique for the firm. Previous scholars have however not, to our knowledge, taken the transfer of knowledge back to the home office into consideration; this thesis aims at describing the flow of knowledge in both directions, managed by the expatriates. To investigate the management of knowledge in internationalizing PSFs, one management consultant firm is studied and three qualitative, in-depth interviews are held with personnel from both the home office as well as the subsidiary, situated in China. Thereafter, this is analyzed with theories regarding transnational corporations, knowledge, knowledge management, expatriates and professional service firms. The main findings suggest that expatriates do function as an important knowledge sharing mechanism for mainly explicit knowledge. Tacit knowledge is also accumulated by operating on a foreign market, however our findings indicate that this knowledge is too difficult to spread throughout the whole organization, hence it is kept embedded in the expatriates. These findings are finally discussed and suggestions for future research regarding the transfer of knowledge with the use of real-time information technology, retention of expatriates, choice of knowledge sharing strategy and firm size as an influence on knowledge sharing, are put forward.
professional service firms
Management & Organisation
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