Temporal boundaries and expatriate staffing : Effects of parent–subsidiary work-time overlap

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Article number101367
Journal / PublicationJournal of World Business
Issue number6
Online published15 Jun 2022
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022


By integrating the boundary-spanning perspective with the expatriate staffing literature, we explore why and how temporal boundaries between multinational enterprise (MNE) parent and subsidiary locations affect MNEs’ deployment of expatriates in foreign subsidiaries. Temporal boundaries, defined as local work-time schedule differences, delimit the degree of work-time overlap between two locations. A lack of work-time overlap between MNE parent and subsidiary locations creates significant barriers in day-to-day, remote real-time communication, resulting in increased deployment of expatriates as intermediaries by parents to overcome these barriers. Conversely, greater parent–subsidiary work-time overlap enables more remote real-time communication via digital technologies, altering the cost–benefit analysis of deploying expatriates over local nationals, consequently reducing parents’ reliance on expatriates as intermediaries. Therefore, we posit a negative relationship between parent–subsidiary work-time overlap and the expatriate ratio in a subsidiary. Further, we posit that the negative relationship is weakened by home – host country distance in terms of information and communication technology development and linguistics because technological and semantic boundaries can reduce the effectiveness of parent–subsidiary real-time communication. Empirical analyses of 22,556 subsidiaries established by 5,912 Japanese MNEs operating in 31 host countries between 1990 and 2018 support our theorizing.

Research Area(s)

  • Expatriate staffing, ICT development, Linguistic distance, MNE parent – subsidiary work schedule, Temporal boundary, Time, Work-time overlap