Knowledge Management and HRM Innovation through Expatriates


  • Dora Martins CEOS.PP, ISCAP, P.PORTO and GOVCOPP, University of Aveiro, Portugal
  • Bruno Alexandre CEOS.PP, ISCAP, Polytechnic of Porto, Portugal



Expatriates, International Assignment, Knowledge Management, International HRM, International career


In this study, the main objective is to understand how the international assignment is related to the acquisition and transfer of knowledge. As specific objectives, we intend to understand the international assignments motivations and to explore how the international assignment can impact the employee's career development. Through an exploratory case study approach, a qualitative research methodology was used to collect data, using a semi-structured interview with a group of stakeholders from an international company (five expatriates and two organisational representatives of expatriations process) in order to answer to the following research questions which factors contribute to the acquisition and transfer of knowledge of expatriates in companies? and how does the acquisition and transfer of knowledge of expatriates in companies take place? The interviews were verbatim transcript and data analysed according to thematic analysis procedures. Our findings show that expatriates are simultaneously agents of knowledge acquisition and knowledge transferring. In addition, expatriates have many high expectations about the useful of their knowledge transferring to home company, specifically in their organisational career evolution and for business innovation and competitiveness. Using the findings, on the one hand international companies can improve human resources system to fit their support practices to needs and expectations of their expatriates after return to home company. On the other hand, the knowledge brought from expatriation, helps organisations at the strategic level through market knowledge and enables the implementation of international innovation human resources policies and practices, contributing to the globalisation of the company. Some conclusions to the contributes to the knowledge management will be highlighted in the last part of the paper.