Combining interpretivism and positivism in international business research: The example of the expatriate role Articles uri icon

publication date

  • February 2023

start page

  • 1

end page

  • 13


  • 2, 101419


  • 58

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1090-9516

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1878-5573


  • We illustrated how multi-paradigm research that combines the phenomenological interpretive and the positivist paradigms in sequential studies helps problematize questionable assumptions in international business research. While observing the phenomenological principle of epoché (i.e., suspension of researchers' pre-conceived categories), we interpreted accounts of their lived experience amongst expatriates working in foreign subsidiaries. A follow-up positivist study further led us to conclude that, unlike Edström and Galbraith's (1977) reasons for an international assignment, expatriates hardly see themselves as headquarters' control agents, but as dual agents in charge of balancing both headquarters and subsidiary's interests.


  • Business
  • Economics


  • interpretive research; expatriates; phenomenology; epistemology; global mobility