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Handbook of Gender, Work, and Organization by Patricia Yancey Martin, David Knights,, Emma L Jeanes

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Chapter 24

In the Back and Forth of Transmigration: Rethinking Organization Studies in a Transnational Key

Marta B. Calás and Linda Smircich

University of Massachusetts at Amherst

Along with the conditions of globalization, a dominant feature of social life has become the increase of transnational flows of multiple kinds – people, money, ideas, and images – (Appadurai, 1990; 1996; Vertovec, 2009). Within the organization studies literature, however, little attention is paid to the fact that transnational flows and interconnections are manifested in a multidirectional ‘back and forth’ of people, practices, and the like. Instead transnationalism in this literature refers mostly to transferring practices from one country to another, such as from headquarters to subsidiaries; or to the allocation of labor between ‘home’ and ‘not home’ such as with expatriate managers or immigrant workers, and even when offshoring work. In this chapter we suggest that the limited understanding of transnationalism in the organizational literature prevents observing that transnational flows permeate all organizational life whether in big or small organizations, ‘local’ or ‘global.’ To this effect, we propose ways for reconsidering organization studies, more generally, in a transnational key.

At its most fundamental, transnational relations under these contemporary conditions are based on mobility across time and space, not only crossing boundaries between established places but also creating new spaces ...

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