Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Business Administration

First Advisor's Name

Anisya S. Thomas

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Michael R. Mullen

Third Advisor's Name

Mary Ann Von Glinow

Fourth Advisor's Name

Richard M. Hodgetts

Date of Defense



The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between organizational learning and expatriation in overseas subsidiaries as well as in organizations as a whole. In doing so, two issues were addressed - () the use of expatriation as firms internationalize, and (ii) the significance of various factors to expatriate success as firms gain international experience. The sample of companies for this study was drawn from U.S. Fortune 500 multinational corporations (MN1Cs) in two sets of related industries -- computers/ electronics and petroleum/chemicals. Based on the learning that takes place within organizations as they increase their involvement overseas, a positive relationship was expected between international experience and expatriation when internationalization was low, and a negative relationship was expected when internationalization was high. Results indicate a significant positive relationship between country experience and the proportion of expatriates in that subsidiary when subsidiaries were relatively young, and a negative relationship, however not significant, for more mature subsidiaries. The relationship between overall firm degree of internationalization (DOI) and the proportion of expatriates in the firm as a whole was negative regardless of stage of internationalization, but this relationship was significant only for highly internationalized firms. It was further suspected that individual, environmental, and family-related characteristics would have a significant effect on the success of expatriates whose firms were low on internationalization, and that organizational characteristics would play a significant role in highly internationalized firms. Support for these hypotheses was received with respect to certain outcomes and some determinants of success. The preponderance of support was found for those addressing the effects of both environmental and family-related characteristics on the cross-cultural adjustment of expatriates in firms with little international experience. Considerable support was also found for those hypotheses addressing the impact of organizational characteristics on the job satisfaction levels of expatriates assigned to mature subsidiaries. The relevant literatures on organizational learning and expatriation are reviewed, and a model is developed underlying the logic of the hypotheses. Research methods are then described in full detail, results are reported, and implications for theory and for management are discussed.





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