Journal of International Business Studies

, Volume 40, Issue 3, pp 509–526 | Cite as

The role of international assignees' social capital in creating inter-unit intellectual capital: A cross-level model

  • B Sebastian Reiche
  • Anne-Wil Harzing
  • Maria L Kraimer


We conceptualize international assignees as informational boundary spanners between multinational enterprise units, and develop a cross-level model that explores how assignees' social capital translates into inter-unit intellectual capital. First, as knowledge brokers, assignees create inter-unit intellectual capital by linking their home- and host-unit social capital, thereby enabling cross-unit access to previously unconnected knowledge resources. Second, as knowledge transmitters, assignees' host-unit social capital facilitates their creation of individual intellectual capital, which, in turn, translates into inter-unit intellectual capital. We conclude that individual social capital needs to be explicitly transferred to the organizational level to have a sustained effect on inter-unit intellectual capital.


international assignments MNE knowledge flows social capital intellectual capital 



We thank Niels Noorderhaven, the three anonymous JIBS reviewers, and JIBS Departmental Editor Helen De Cieri for their helpful feedback.


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Copyright information

© Academy of International Business 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • B Sebastian Reiche
    • 1
  • Anne-Wil Harzing
    • 2
  • Maria L Kraimer
    • 3
  1. 1.IESE Business SchoolBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Department of Management and MarketingUniversity of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Management & OrganizationsTippie College of Business, University of IowaUSA

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