It is important to note that expatriates in the modern era of globalization play important and boundary-spanning roles for their organizations. Expatriates operate in unfamiliar environments, thereby making their tasks difficult and uncertain. However, there is limited research when it comes to boundary-spanning roles. This research study seeks to demystify the nature of the boundary-spanning roles that are played by expatriates with the view of creating a theoretical framework. Previously, the concept of boundary-spanning roles was divided into two theories; open systems and role theory. Subsequently, role theory was concerned with social systems within an organization, while open systems theory dealt with the stability of an organization’s systems. On the other hand, most empirical studies on boundary-spanning roles have focused on macro instead of micro factors.
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Past research has cataloged the functional activities of boundary-spanning roles to include ambassador, task coordinator, guard, and scout. This study seeks to expand the scope of this research to include the microelements of this subject matter. Some of the examined aspects include expatriates’ engagements with external agents, particulars of these engagements, direction, and purpose of these activities. The study also sought to establish how past expatriate management trends compare to emerging ones. As an exploratory case study, the research utilized both data from interviews and literature reviews. Data were analyzed based on a grounded theory with the help of the raw data that was collected earlier. The overall results were expected to propagate a solid theoretical framework.
The results of the study revealed various boundary episodes within the context of the study, including collaborating with diplomats, dealing with host governments, encounters with academics, and dealings with local businesses. The results also indicate that there is an emergent typology of the expatriate’s boundary-spanning role. Subsequently, nine dimensions of the expatriate’s boundary spanning-role are established, and they include new microelements such as guarding, delivering, negotiating intermediary, representing and guarding. The results support the hypothesis that there is a need for a tool that can enhance the knowledge of boundary-spanning roles. Most of the new dimensions of these roles are independent factors that can accommodate future research. Although they were limitations to this research, the results are quite relevant to the managerial culture.