The Effect of Perceived Support on Repatriate Knowledge Transfer in MNCs: The Mediating Role of Repatriate Adjustment

Sunayana Kumar, Anam Aslam, Aamir Aslam
Interdisciplinary Journal of Information, Knowledge, and Management  •  Volume 17  •  2022  •  pp. 215-234

The present study examines the effect of perceived organisational and co-worker support on the adjustment of repatriates and its impact on their intention to transfer knowledge in multinational companies (MNCs). It also examines the relationship between perceived organisational support, co-worker support, and knowledge transfer through the mediating role of repatriate adjustment.

The ability of acquiring and utilising international knowledge is one of the core competitive advantages of MNCs. This knowledge is transferred by MNCs across their subsidiaries efficiently through repatriates, which will result in superior performance when compared to their local competitors. But in MNCs the expatriation process has been given more emphasis than the repatriation process; therefore, there is limited knowledge about repatriation knowledge transfer. Practically, the knowledge transferred by repatriates is not managed properly by the MNCs.

The proposed model was supported by Uncertainty Reduction Theory, Organisational Socialisation Theory, Organisational Support Theory, and Socialisation Resource Theory. The data were gathered from 246 repatriates working in Indian MNCs in the manufacturing and information technology sectors who had been on an international assignment for at least one year. The data obtained were analysed using Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) using AMOS 21 software.

The present study expands prior research on repatriate knowledge transfer by empirically investigating the mediating role of repatriate adjustment between perceived support and repatriate knowledge transfer in MNCs. The present study also highlights that organisational and co-worker support during repatriation is beneficial for repatriate knowledge transfer. It is important that MNCs initiate support practices during repatriation to motivate repatriates to transfer international knowledge.

The results revealed that both perceived organisational and co-worker support had a significant role in predicting repatriate adjustment in MNCs. Furthermore, the results also revealed that perceived organisational and co-worker support increases repatriate knowledge transfer through repatriate adjustment in MNCs.

This study indicates the role of management in motivating repatriates to transfer their knowledge to the organisation. The management of MNCs develop HR policies and strategies leading to high perceived organisational support, co-worker support, and repatriate adjustment. They need to pay particular attention to the factors that affect the repatriates’ intention to share knowledge with others in the organisation.

Researchers can use the validated measurement instrument which could be essential for the advancement of future empirical research on repatriate knowledge transfer.

The present study will assist MNCs in managing their repatriates during the repatriation process by developing an appropriate repatriation support system. This will help the repatriates to better adjust to their repatriation process which will motivate them to transfer the acquired knowledge.

Future research can adopt a longitudinal style to test the different levels of the adjustment process which will help in better understanding the repatriate adjustment process. Additionally, this model can be tested with the repatriates of other countries and in diverse cultures to confirm its external validity. Furthermore, future research can be done with the repatriates who go on an international assignment through their own initiative (self-initiated expatriates).

repatriates, repatriate adjustment, co-worker support, organisational support, repatriate knowledge transfer, structural equation modelling
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