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Title: A study of expatriate managers' adaptation, learning, knowledge acquisition, and personal development in multi-national companies in China
Author: Li, Yan
Awarding Body: University of Hull
Current Institution: University of Hull
Date of Award: 2013
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This research examines how Western expatriate managers adapt, learn, acquire tacit knowledge, and develop when working in China. The research draws on literature associated with expatriate studies, experiential learning theory, and knowledge acquisition in order to develop an expatriate learning process model. Following on from this, the study then examines expatriate learning outcomes from four perspectives: learning style transition, adaptive flexibility, global mindsets, and managerial tacit knowledge. Moreover, our model positions learning style as a mediator that affects the likelihood that expatriate managers will actively engage in their international assignment experiential learning, which in turn leads to global manager development. In particular, the study adopts a pseudo longitudinal research method that examines Western expatriate managers with different lengths of assignment tenure to better understand how expatriates learn and develop over time. Finally, the study investigates how Western expatriate managers with substantial work experience in China differ from host Chinese managers in terms of learning styles and levels of accumulated managerial tacit knowledge to provide deeper insights into expatriate learning. Data were collected in Western MNCs’ subsidiaries in China. The survey includes self-administered questionnaires and semi-structured interviews. The target populations comprise Western expatriate managers and host Chinese managers. The research seeks to understand more fully the kinds of learning strategies successful expatriates adopt in order to quickly adapt to intercultural business contexts. The study also contributes to understanding of expatriates’ learning outcomes from international assignments leading to recommendations for more effective expatriate training prior to international assignments. The study also draws comparisons between Western expatriate managers with differing levels of work experience in China (upto 1 year; 1 - 3 years; 3 - 5 years; > 5yrs) and host Chinese managers to better understand temporal aspects of expatriate adjustment and expatriate learning during their international assignments.
Supervisor: Armstrong, Steven J. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Business