Role of headquarter attention disparity on expatriate knowledge sharing between assignments
In acknowledgement of ongoing challenges in knowledge sharing, continuous research efforts are required to reflect the ever-changing landscape. Current research does not entirely encapsulate recent conceptualisations of multidirectional knowledge flows within the MNC, specifically from a lateral perspective. Accordingly, the role of expatriates reflect the importance of lateral knowledge sharing yet research has not holistically addressed the complex nature of exploiting such knowledge. Extensive examination of the HQ-expatriate relationship and repatriation process highlights the limited recognition for expatriates still within the expatriation cycle (i.e. moving from subsidiary to subsidiary). This thesis seeks to add to the existing literature by exploring a potential new antecedent, headquarter attention disparity. The attention-based view of the firm reflects subsidiary level outcomes of unequal distribution of HQ attention. Extending this to explore the role on expatriate knowledge sharing is novel. The research implements a hermeneutical research design using semi-structured interviews. These sought to discover expatriate conceptualisations of lateral knowledge sharing and the related perceptions of HQ attention disparities between subsidiaries. The study draws on the ability-motivation-opportunity framework within a knowledge sender-receiver context. Expatriates coming from high-HQ attention subsidiaries demonstrate their own understanding of the acquired knowledge, influenced by individual context. These same interpretations guide subsidiary willingness to learn and the nature of knowledge sharing interactions. The results illustrate these opinions of perceived benefits to impact the inclination for knowledge sharing. Where perceptions align, there is reduced uncertainty in the expatriate-subsidiary colleague relationship whereas diverging perceptions weaken the propensity to learn and expatriates’ knowledge sharing risks deterioration. These outcomes are further susceptible to external effects. The first being perceived competence-trust in shared functional identity, the second through affect-trust within subsidiary socialisation efforts.