Mimicry, Knowledge Spillover and Expatriate Assignment Strategy in Overseas Subsidiaries

Lipeng Gary Ge, Cuili Qian, Jiatao Li

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Based on neo-institutional theory and knowledge spillover, we argue that the probability of a firm assigning an expatriate manager to a foreign subsidiary is influenced by a combination of mimicry and knowledge spillover from any existing expatriate community in the foreign location. The expatriate community’s influence is hypothesized to be weaker when the firm’s ownership share in its foreign subsidiary is greater but stronger when the cultural distance between a firm’s home country and the foreign host country is greater. Data on 95,156 foreign-invested manufacturing ventures in China is used to test these predictions. The findings show an inverted U-shaped relationship between the assignment of expatriates and the number of expatriates previously sent to the same location by prior foreign investors. This relationship is shown to be moderated by subsidiary ownership, but not by the cultural distance between the investor’s home country and the host country. Implications for research and practice are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)981-1007
Number of pages27
JournalManagement International Review
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • China
  • Expatriate assignment
  • Expatriate community
  • Knowledge spillover
  • Mimicry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Strategy and Management


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