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What Makes for Successful Repatriate Knowledge Transfer? Implications for Repatriation and Global Leadership

Advances in Global Leadership

ISBN: 978-1-83909-593-1, eISBN: 978-1-83909-592-4

Publication date: 19 October 2020


Knowledge transfer is an important global leader (GL) competency, given their role as knowledge brokers and capacity builders. However, knowledge transfer skills and the transfer process itself have received scant attention from both global mobility and leadership scholars. Similarly, multinationals have seldom systematically collected and utilized repatriate knowledge, despite the competitive advantage it represents in a global knowledge economy. To fill this gap, an exploratory qualitative study employing critical incidents and interviews with a multi-country sample of 47 German, Japanese, and US repatriates identified variables that facilitate knowledge transfer attempts to the work unit. Our findings corroborate the proposed variables in a conceptual model of the transfer process and articulate the transfer skills that help explain their ability to transfer. Most importantly, our findings introduce an interactive transfer model that explicates the microprocess of transfer in the repatriate–work unit relationship. We conclude with implications for global leadership research and HRM practice.




The authors wish to acknowledge the contributions of Roger Blakeney to this program of research.


Osland, J.S., Szkudlarek, B., Oddou, G.R., Furuya, N. and Deller, J. (2020), "What Makes for Successful Repatriate Knowledge Transfer? Implications for Repatriation and Global Leadership", Osland, J.S., Szkudlarek, B., Mendenhall, M.E. and Reiche, B.S. (Ed.) Advances in Global Leadership (Advances in Global Leadership, Vol. 13), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 105-128.



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