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Knowledge transfer in multinational corporations: productive and counterproductive effects of language-sensitive recruitment

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2014
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of International Business Studies
Issue number5
Volume45
Number of pages23
Pages (from-to)600-622
Publication statusPublished
Early online date2/01/14
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This paper focuses on the multi-faceted role of language and language-sensitive recruitment processes in knowledge transfer in multinational corporations (MNCs). In particular, we develop a framework that helps to better understand how language-sensitive recruitment is related to competence, networks, identity and power. We started by conducting a qualitative interview-based study of 101 MNC subsidiaries. This analysis elucidates the productive and counterproductive effects of language-sensitive recruitment on knowledge transfer related to communication competence, networks, identity, and power. To further understanding of the productive and counterproductive effects, we conducted a quantitative study in 285 MNC subsidiaries. We found an inverted U-shaped relationship between language-sensitive recruitment and knowledge transfer. Together, these two studies provide a better understanding of the multifaceted and at times counterintuitive implications of language-sensitive recruitment on knowledge transfer in MNCs. By elucidating these effects, this paper contributes to the stream of research examining the role of language in MNCs and international business more generally. It also adds to research on MNC knowledge transfer that to date has focused little attention on language. By elaborating on the potential unintended consequences of language-sensitive recruitment, this paper also has implications on international human resource management research.