Contemporary organizations are becoming increasingly multicultural in their composition and global in their focus. In fact, globalization suggests that products may be conceived and designed in one country, produced in other countries, and marketed all over the world. Most importantly, people from different cultural backgrounds are now more interconnected due to the advancements in telecommunication, technology and free movement of labour. These individuals, or "knowledge agents" (Beaverstock, 2004; Bonache & Brewster, 2001; Bonache & Zárraga-Oberty, 2008) act as crucial repositories and conduits of knowledge with the potential to enhance organizational innovation and performance (Maley et al., 2020).
The heterogeneity of personnel in global organizations and environments (Shaffer et al., 2012) implies that the emergence, sharing, application, and management of knowledge in the context of global work experiences may also be highly diverse. In this regard, it has been well-documented that managers, leaders, and employees must be able to facilitate a better cross-cultural understanding and possess intercultural-communication skills to harness knowledge benefits associated with international work environments and the recruitment of foreign talent (Bebenroth & Froese, 2020; Earley & Mosakowski, 2004; Latukha et al., 2019). Thus, while global work experiences can generate and perpetuate a plethora of knowledge, missed opportunities to exchange and manage such knowledge yields costs for organizations and hampers individual and organizational learning.
In terms of knowledge creation and sharing, globally mobile personnel sit at the epicentre of this phenomenon often in the capacity of knowledge sender (Bonache & Brewster, 2001), knowledge receiver (Chang, et al., 2012; Hocking et al., 2007), or both. The value of any type of knowledge transferred within or across borders is, by default, dependent on the sender's disseminative capacity and the receiver's absorptive capacity (Burmeister et al., 2018), making it a challenging process to derive the greatest degree of value from knowledge.
Thus far, pertinent research is at an early developmental stage and has only begun to uncover factors that have the power to influence knowledge creation and transfer at the individual level. This research includes but is not restricted to the context in which knowledge is transferred (Al Ariss & Shao, 2020; Fink et al., 2005). Scholars have further highlighted the crucial role of individuals' ability, motivation, and career aspirations (Lazarova & Tarique, 2005). Likewise, cultural intelligence has been found to influence knowledge transfer activities in the context of expatriates (Stoermer, et al., forthcoming; Vlajčić, et al., 2019b). In addition, relationship building, communication practices, and constellations of power have been shown to be relevant to the knowledge sharing activities of expatriates and host country staff (Heizmann et al., 2018). Related research has also centred on the effects of language and varying logics, for instance holistic vs. linear, and the consequences for knowledge sharing in an intercultural working environment (e.g., Peltokorpi, 2006; Peltokorpi & Yamao, 2017). Another focus has been on the firm's ability to absorb knowledge or reverse knowledge transfer from subsidiaries (Kong, et al., 2018; Vlajčić, et al., 2019a), while specific attention has also been paid to repatriate knowledge transfer boundary conditions and underlying mechanisms and the role of leadership (Amir et al., 2020; Bucher et al., 2020; Duvivier et al., 2019; Froese, et al., forthcoming).
Another area of research has examined the role of knowledge characteristics. Scholars agree about the impact of knowledge characteristics on an organization's information processing ability and effective knowledge transfer (Chou et al., 2007; Zhang & Zhang, 2014). Knowledge is part of the environment in which it is developed (Asmussen et al., 2013; Cui et al., 2006) and its characteristics have been investigated intensively. Most importantly, research has been careful to define knowledge in terms of its nature: formal versus informal (e.g., Amir et al., 2020; Asrar-ul-Haq & Anwar, 2016) and explicit versus tacit (e.g., Kostova, 1999; Nonaka & von Krogh, 2009). This has generated some insight into the rhythm, efficiency and effectiveness of knowledge transfer.
Despite these advancements, we argue that the literature on knowledge sharing and its management (e.g., Burmeister et al., 2015; Kiessling et al., 2009) within an international working environment has room to grow, particularly given relentless changes in global mobility patterns and the resulting demands placed on the global workforce. Hence, knowledge sharing behaviours and knowledge management in international work environments remain under-theorized and under-examined empirically due to the lack of accommodating for shifts in global mobility patterns in extant theories and frameworks. This recognition triggers our objective to uncover why, how, and when individuals in an international work environment create, share, and implement knowledge and how global knowledge management evolves amid diverse global workforce patterns. With that, we aim to improve our understanding of the breadth and depth of the processes, contents, as well as drivers and barriers of knowledge sharing and its management.
This Special Issue seeks contributions unveiling knowledge about working in a global environment across a range of levels of analyses, temporal dynamics and processes, as well as contexts. We welcome multidisciplinary contributions that investigates the actors of global mobility, such as, and not limited to: Corporate and self-initiated expatriates; migrants; international entrepreneurs; international business travellers; low-status and high-status expatriates; short-term assignees, inpatriates, repatriates, and international commuters. In addition, we also embrace research that focuses on the host country national (HCN) perspective and respective dyadic approaches.
This Special Issue will also focus on the loci of global mobility, welcoming submissions investigating multiple contexts where global mobility takes place including corporate and non-corporate communities, such as, diplomats, academics, international school teachers, international volunteers, military expatriates, missionaries, sports professionals, international artists and healthcare employees, among others.
We encourage preliminary ideas about topics from prospective contributors and would be happy to discuss suggestions. For guidance, however, an illustrative list of topics includes:
These and other aspects are pressing and important topics in global mobility research. For potential inclusion in this Special Issue, we are seeking original quantitative and qualitative empirical research, theory development, case studies, and critical literature reviews from multiple disciplines (e.g., sociology, psychology, occupational health, migration, legal, risk and safety management, etc.). We particularly seek multi-level approaches to accommodate individual, organizational, and societal perspectives. We also encourage authors to consider how they may take advantage of innovative data collection techniques and secondary data to shed new insights into issues of global mobility during calamities by, for instance, drawing on relevant media reports, social media and/or online forums.
Submission Process and Timeline
To be considered for the Special Issue, manuscripts must be submitted no later than February 1st, 2021, 5:00pm Central European Time. Papers may be submitted prior to this deadline. Submitted papers will undergo a double-blind peer review process and will be evaluated by at least two reviewers and a Special Issue editor. The final acceptance is dependent on the review team's judgment of the paper's contribution on four key dimensions:
Paper submission deadline: February 1, 2021
Acceptance notification: September 2021
Publication: December 2021
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