Reconceptualise Expatriation by Analysing the Capital and Labour Power in MNCs: Evidence from Chinese MNCs Abroad

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This paper explores the dynamic relationship between capital and labour power on patterns of employment in multinational companies, with a special focus on the use of expatriates. ‘Expatriation’ has been conceptualised as a firm-based bureaucratic functionality awarded to senior and loyal employees. There is an increased use of expatriation as the spread of the capitalist system opens up new territories for expansion and re-location. Meanwhile, labour move more independently across countries in search for work, and such movement is facilitated by the emerging international employment agencies and profession and occupational networks formed by international migrants. As a result, expatriation is becoming more dispersed and open. The paper draws on evidence of expatriate use in Chinese multinationals companies (MNCs) and argue that a hard definitional boundary between ‘expatriates’ and rest of the workforce in MNCs has lost its appeal to dividing capital and labour functions. An alternative framework is proposed to capture the complex and segmented division of labour constructed within the MNC under more globalised labour markets.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages32
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2016

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