This conceptual paper bridges international management literature with paradox theory to contribute to a paradoxical perspective for understanding expatriate competence. Synthesizing the international management literature, we argue for a ‘both/and’ approach for expatriates to effectively engage with tensions in a dynamic and ever-changing international environment. Our discussions provide novel insights on salient paradoxical tensions across three areas, namely, expatriate learning, expatriate identity, and expatriate performance. We develop strategies to address those tensions and a theoretical model that delineates the interactions of these three areas for superior performance on international assignments. We contribute to the international management literature by drawing attention to the dynamic and enabling role of paradoxical tensions as facilitators of, rather than barriers to, the development of expatriate competence and superior performance on international assignments.
- International management
- Paradox theory