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Foreign locals: A cautionary tale on the culture of MNC local employees

  • Dan V Caprar

    (Australian School of Business, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia)

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    Multinational corporations (MNCs) rely heavily on local employees when conducting their international operations, yet the international business literature provides few instances of true focus on these employees. The commonly used label “host-country nationals” (HCNs) confers them an identity strongly related to the culture of their country, prompting both researchers and practitioners to “know” them through the knowledge about the local culture. This paper provides evidence that a more sophisticated view of the culture of HCNs is needed: through an ethnographic exploration of HCNs working in local subsidiaries of American MNCs in Romania, I reveal that HCNs are not always culturally interchangeable with the rest of the host-country population. HCNs can display a variety of cultural profiles more or less reflective of the national culture, depending on their enacted stance towards the native culture and the cultural landscape of the MNCs themselves. The findings call for further specification of theories relying on the assumed localness of HCNs, and should contribute to the ongoing conversation on the interplay between the cultures specific to the MNC and its host countries.

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    Article provided by Palgrave Macmillan in its journal Journal of International Business Studies.

    Volume (Year): 42 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 5 (June)
    Pages: 608-628

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    Handle: RePEc:pal:jintbs:v:42:y:2011:i:5:p:608-628
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