Expatriates And Knowledge Transfer: A Case Study Of A PowerPlant Constructed In Africa

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S.Y. Ravu
K.M. Parker


Knowledge Transfer, Human Capital, Expatriates, Power Plant


This paper outlines aspects of a broader exploratory study on the management of skills shortages at a leading energy utility in Africa. Specifically, the paper examines the opinions of local and foreign personnel employed on a power plant construction project on the nature of skills shortages experienced at the energy utility, the organization’s short-term strategy of dealing with the shortages by employing expatriates and the latter’s role in knowledge transfer. Various human resources approaches were explored to provide appropriate theoretical structure to the research including intellectual capital and human capital models. A sample of highly skilled personnel defined as “key job families” according to the Kaplan and Norton (2004) human capital model were purposively selected for the study. Primary data was collected using a questionnaire and semi-structured interviews. International research on expatriates’ impact on knowledge transfer within the public sector environment is very scarce; this is the first research of its kind to examine these issues at a public power plant. Preliminary results indicate that the type of knowledge, willingness to learn and share on the part of both expatriates and locals, and national culture are some of the factors impacting the success of knowledge transfer from expatriates to locals.


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