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Knowledge assimilation at foreign subsidiaries of Japanese MNCs through political sensegiving and sensemaking
Organization Studies
  • Fok Loi, Jacky HONG, University of Macau
  • Robin Stanley SNELL, Lingnan University
  • Carry MAK, University of Macau
Document Type
Journal article
Publication Date
Sage Publications Ltd.
  • local knowledge,
  • MNCs,
  • politics,
  • sensegiving,
  • sensemaking

We analyse political sensegiving and sensemaking by expatriates and host country employees through exportive, contestative and integrative stages of knowledge assimilation at two China-based subsidiaries of different Japanese MNCs. Comparative case study analysis indicated that efforts by expatriates and HQ-based experts to convey, routinize and standardize home country practices during the exportive and contestative stages, while involving traditional ‘one way’ knowledge transfer, can provide a foundation for a subsequent integrative stage, during which host country employees’ locally embedded knowledge is assimilated despite geopolitical asymmetry between home and host countries. Without this foundation, knowledge assimilation can remain ‘frozen’ at the contestative stage, with host country employees resisting importation of good practices from the HQ, and expatriates marginalizing host country employees’ contributions unless these are exceptionally compelling.

Funding Information
This research was partially supported by University Grant no. DR11B1 from Lingnan University, Hong Kong and the Multi-Year Research Grant no. MYRG069-FBA11-HFL from University of Macau. {DR11B1, MYRG069-FBA11-HFL}
Publisher Statement
Copyright © The Author(s) 2016. Access to external full text or publisher's version may require subscription.
Full-text Version
Publisher’s Version
Citation Information
Hong, J. F. L., Snell, R. S., & Mak, C. (2016). Knowledge assimilation at foreign subsidiaries of Japanese MNCs through political sensegiving and sensemaking. Organization Studies, 37(9), 1297-1321. doi: 10.1177/0170840616634128