Publication Date

December 2006


Project teams operating in transnational environments are constantly exploiting knowledge that already resides within the team (internal knowledge)while exploring for new and additional knowledge that exists outside the team (external knowledge). A team’s ability to successfully acquire and apply relevant information depends largely on the input of its members. The academic literature suggests that individuals’ contributions can best be understood as a reflection of some exogenous characteristic, such as nationality, expatriate status, or work location. This paper, however, takes a different tack and analyzes team members’ contributions according to their experience as cosmopolitans (individuals who have lived and worked in multiple countries and speak multiple languages), locals (individuals who have lived and worked in the project country and speak the local language), or something in between. The paper argues that these categories better capture the range of team members’ knowledge and comparative advantage to the group.


Suggested Citation
Haas, M, R. (2006). Wanted: Locals and cosmopolitans for transnational teams (ILR Impact Brief #16). Ithaca, NY: School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Cornell University.

The ILR Impact Brief series highlights the research and project based work conducted by ILR faculty that is relevant to workplace issues and public policy. The Briefs are prepared by Maralyn Edid, Senior Extension Associate, ILR School.

Required Publisher Statement
Copyright by Cornell University.