This conceptual paper starts from the recognition that internationalisation of business is an information‐intensive process and aims to investigate two key modes for the acquisition of knowledge: expatriates and immigrant employees.
The paper sets out a conceptual framework which examines nine popular modes of knowledge acquisition essential to the internationalisation process and their comparative strengths and weaknesses. This is coupled with a more intensive evaluation of the relative merits of the two strategies of expatriates and immigrant employees.
The analysis suggests that the modes of expatriates and immigrant employees can both be cost effective and yield high levels of relevant knowledge underpinning internationalisation. However, there are key differences between the two and it may be more useful to consider them as complements rather than simply substitutes. The strength of expatriates is their considerable knowledge of the home market, industry and firm. Their weakness is the need to gradually acquire overseas market knowledge. The strength of immigrant employees is their knowledge of overseas target markets. Their weaknesses are limited understanding of the home country business system, the firm and even the industry.
The paper has several limitations. It is conceptual in nature and tentative in assessment. It does not consider all available knowledge gathering modes. To fully understand this process more research is required, particularly work that extends the narrow case approach typically used.
The analysis suggests that different information gathering modes offer different advantages with none clearly superior in all situations. A similar situation appears to also hold for the modes of expatriates and immigrant employees and the two modes may be more usefully considered as complements.
The key contribution of the paper is in evaluating these two modes from the perspective of market knowledge and diffusion.
Enderwick, P. (2011), "Acquiring overseas market knowledge: a comparison of strategies of expatriate and immigrant employees", Journal of Asia Business Studies, Vol. 5 No. 1, pp. 77-97. https://doi.org/10.1108/15587891111100813Download as .RIS
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