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Bielefeld Graduate School
in History and Sociology
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Bastian Bredenkötter

"Here in China, I'm a kind of teacher, not a general!" - Types of 'boundary spanners' in international comparison. A study on American and German expatriates in Chinese, German, and US-American subsidiaries of multinational companies

My PhD project addresses a group of highly skilled professionals that plays an important role in the internationalization process of multinational companies: expatriates. Early studies on the globalization of the economy focus on the macro-level and virtually ignore problems and contradictions in the implementation of global strategies at the micro level. But a successful implementation of global strategies is not self-evident - instead, it is rather 'unlikely'.

Against this background it is understandable that currently the focus shifts more and more towards the actors who put the internationalization of business organizations into practice in their everyday work. Today expatriates are a popular object of research in international business and management studies as well as in psychology - but less so in sociology.

Following up on the current state of expatriate research, the PhD project aims to contribute to a deeper understanding of the 'boundary spanning' work of expatriate managers. In an international comparative perspective the study examines which types of 'boundary spanners' exist and if they are global or local types - depending on the origin of the expatriates (home country effect) or the country of their assignment (host country effect).

My PhD project is embedded in the DFG project "Expatriate Managers: A New Cosmopolitan Elite? - Habitus, Everyday Practices and Networks", which is led by Prof. Dr. Ursula Mense-Petermann. The project studies the everyday life and work of two different groups of expatriate managers - US American and German managers - at three different locations of assignment - Germany, USA and China. Methodologically it is designed as a mixed-team-ethnography.

Bastian Bredenkötter studied sociology, economic, political and educational sciences. Besides being a doctoral candidate at the BGHS he is currently working as a teaching and research associate for the work group Economic Sociology and Sociology of Work and as spokesman of the work unit Economy and Work at the Faculty of Sociology, Bielefeld University. His main areas of interest are sociology of work, economic sociology, and organizational sociology.

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Current volume InDi

Gefördert durch:

Exzellenzinitiative zur Förderung der Hochschulen
(1. Förderphase 2007-2012,
2. Förderphase 2012-2017)

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