This paper examines data from in-depth interviews with 21 employees sent on foreign assignments in 14 MNCs to explore the role of expatriates in leveraging intellectual and social capital across the global units of MNCs. In this paper, social capital is considered in the context of the expatriate’s use of knowledge of interpersonal networks within the MNC. This paper demonstrates that expatriates routinely leverage social capital from their previous (home) units and in doing so they also access intellectual capital in the form of employee knowledge from their home unit. Expatriates can access this knowledge more efficiently and effectively than their host unit peers. This is an outcome of the time and access advantages they enjoy through their knowledge of interpersonal networks.
21st Australian and New Zealand Academy of Management Conference (ANZAM 2007). Managing Our Intellectual and Social Capital: Proceedings of the 21st ANZAM Conference (Sydney 4-7 December, 2007)