Talk, trust and information flow: Work relationships between Japanese expatriate and host national employees in Indonesia

Yukimi Shimoda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Citations (Scopus)


This paper broadens the understanding of work relationships between expatriate and host national employees in transnational organisations/corporations, who have tended to be investigated separately. By exploring interpersonal interactions between expatriate and host national employees, this paper highlights the importance of their relationships in the implementation of organisational activities. With a focus on both Japanese expatriate and host national employees in a Japanese organisation in Indonesia, this ethnographic study examines the ways in which they worked in unfamiliar circumstances, managed differences and provided essential support for each other. Their transnational connections, characterised by what Granovetter calls 'the strength of weak ties', function to diffuse information and knowledge effectively. I argue the significance of 'talk', particularly small talk, as an initial action that supports such information flow and builds trust. This paper attempts to demonstrate the vital roles of expatriate and host national employees as mediators, by using network analysis as a framework. Finally, I conclude that both expatriate and host national employees, the latter often seen merely as backseat players, are in fact keys to the successful activities of transnational organisations/corporations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3853-3871
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Human Resource Management
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Nov 1



  • ethnography
  • expatriates
  • host national employees
  • talk
  • trust
  • weak ties

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation

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