Academic journal article Management International Review

Language, Cultural Intelligence, and Inpatriate Turnover Intentions: Leveraging Values in Multinational Corporations through Inpatriates

Academic journal article Management International Review

Language, Cultural Intelligence, and Inpatriate Turnover Intentions: Leveraging Values in Multinational Corporations through Inpatriates

Article excerpt

Abstract Multinational corporations (MNCs) are increasingly hiring inpatriates into their headquarters (HQ) to disseminate and implement shared organizational values throughout the organization. The purpose of this study is to investigate the antecedents of inpatriates' turnover intentions, which would be detrimental to the MNCs' practices of spreading and leveraging organizational values through inpatriates. Based on the survey responses from 148 inpatriates in Korea-based MNCs, we conducted hierarchical moderated linear regression analyses to test our hypotheses. Results showed that greater levels of English use as a common corporate language in the HQ and perceived organizational-level motivational cultural intelligence (MCQ) were negatively related to inpatriate turnover intention. Furthermore, the negative relationships were attenuated by inpatriates' host country language proficiency and individual-level of MCQ. Findings suggest that through inpatriate assignments, MNCs can implement and leverage their shared values among organizational subsidiaries across different operations. MNCs can retain inpatriates by better implementing a common corporate language and making their organizations more multicultural.

Keywords Inpatriate * Turnover intention * Language * Motivational cultural intelligence

1 Introduction

As organizations increasingly globalize, they are forced to deal with the challenges of culturally diverse foreign markets and workforce. Transferring staff between headquarters (HQ) and subsidiaries is a common strategy for leveraging shared values, which organizations believe to be important and critical by (i.e., philosophies, core values, visions, organizational history, policies), and for better controlling subsidiaries (Harzing 2001; Reiche 2011). Many multinational corporations (MNCs) tend to rely on inpatriation, defined here as recruiting and/or transferring foreign professionals to the HQ of an MNC (Harvey et al. 2000). Inpatriates usually stay for a specific time period at the HQ and then are sent back to their home country to assume managerial roles and disseminate HQ knowledge and corporate values (Gertsen and Soderberg 2012; Reiche 2006). Inpatriation is beneficial for MNCs because inpatriate managers can fill talent gaps, infuse the company with international management expertise, and serve as "boundary spanners" between the HQ and the overseas markets (Gertsen and Soderberg 2012; Harvey and Buckley 1997; Harvey et al. 2011; Reiche 2006, 2011). In their role as boundary spanners and "corporate culture translators" (Gertsen and Soderberg, 2012, p. 42), inpatriates can deliver communication (Harvey et al. 2011) and disseminate global values from the HQ to local operations across the world.

A major challenge associated with managing inpatriates is integrating them at the HQ (Harvey and Buckley 1997; Harvey et al. 2011) given their different cultural backgrounds, different organizational experiences, and outsider status (Harvey and Buckley 1997). To overcome such differences and integrate inpatriates effectively, MNCs should embrace cultural diversity and ensure a multicultural work environment at the HQ (Harvey and Buckley 1997; Harvey et al. 2011). If managed successfully, inpatriation can be an important staffing option to accelerate the creation of global values within an organization (Harvey et al. 2000, 2011).

In this study, we focus on what determines inpatriate turnover intentions because the retention is vital to the transfer of information. The majority of inpatriates are highly motivated to transfer knowledge and global values to the subsidiaries (Gertsen and Soderberg 2012). However, only if they stay in the organization can MNCs dispatch them back to their home country or other subsidiaries to disseminate implicit knowledge and global values. To identify the characteristics of a multicultural environment at the HQ that facilitate the integration of inpatriates, we examine the roles of common corporate language usage in the workplace and the perception of organization-level motivational cultural intelligence (MCQ), defined as an organization's capacity to direct attention and energy toward learning about and functioning effectively in cross-cultural situations (Ang et al. …

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