Knowledge translation through expatriates in international knowledge transfer
Studies of international knowledge transfer usually focus on the transfer of knowledge without loss between organizational units. However, this research has frequently been inconclusive because of the tacit nature of knowledge and the difficulties of measuring the results of knowledge transfer. Therefore, we suggest a paradigmatic shift of research from knowledge transfer without loss, to knowledge translation as a matter of modification of knowledge when transferred from one context to an other. According to this perspective, the knowledge transfer between the MNE HQ and foreign subsidiaries is a socio-cultural process in which expatriates can be expected to play an important role. In this paper, we study the impact of expatriates in knowledge translation from MNE HQ to foreign subsidiaries. Through an empirical analysis, we examine how the characteristics of expatriates influence the usefulness of knowledge transferred internationally. An important result of the study is that the expatriation experience and, in particular, the relationship development capability has significant positive effects on the international knowledge translation process. However, we did not find any statistical evidence that an expatriate's experience of the particular industry or the particular country has a significant effect. âº Knowledge transfer between socio-economic contexts requires knowledge translation. âº We examine the effects of expatriates on international knowledge translation. âº The social competence of the expatriate is important in knowledge translation.