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Existing literature on expatriate managers tends to focus on their adjustment from the point of view of individual well-being. This paper, in pointing out that international assignments are an opportunity to internationalise the company through a learning process, has a different emphasis. Japanese companies tend to employ many Japanese expatriate managers in overseas locations. The development of cross-cultural adaptation among expatriate Japanese managers in two retail subsidiary companies in Hong Kong was studied. In both companies, the expatriates learned reactively rather than proactively, involving either zero or single-loop organisational learning ensued for the parent company. The reactive learning approach stemmed from expatriates perceiving their career prospects related more to events back at the parent company than to the success or failure of the local subsidiary, and that it might be harmful to their career if they internationalise themselves during the overseas assignment.


HKIBS Working Paper Series 031-989

(The paper is later published in Organizational Learning, Vol. 32, No. 2, 2001)

Recommended Citation

Wong, M. M. L. (1999). Organisational learning through international assignment in Japanese overseas companies (HKIBS Working Paper Series 031-989). Retrieved from Lingnan University website:

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