The influence of workgroup identification on turnover intention and knowledge sharing: the perspective of employees in subsidiaries

Sarah Lindsay, Cathy Sheehan, Helen De Cieri

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Turnover intention and knowledge sharing of local employees in multinational enterprise (MNE) subsidiary workgroups have received relatively little attention in IHRM research, yet are central to everyday operation of the organisation. Drawing on optimal distinctiveness theory, we consider the influence of workgroup identification on two important employee attitudes and behaviours, turnover intention and knowledge sharing, by examining the influence of the supervisor on workgroup identification. Participants included 306 employees in an Australian and New Zealand subsidiary of an MNE headquartered in Europe. The results indicate that employees’ tendency to identify with their workgroup is enhanced by the distinctiveness of a supervisor from a different national or cultural group, which in turn leads to decreased turnover intention and increased knowledge sharing among workgroup members. Higher supervisor prototypicality however, that counterbalances distinctiveness through higher inclusion, weakens the mediation effect. An important practical implication of this research is that the HR function could play a valuable role in training or group development to raise supervisors’ and employees’ understanding and management of needs for both inclusion and distinctiveness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)432-455
Number of pages24
JournalInternational Journal of Human Resource Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Knowledge sharing
  • optimal distinctiveness theory
  • subsidiary workers
  • supervisor
  • turnover intention
  • workgroup identification

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