Department of Business Development and Technology

The Paradox of Roots and Wings: labor mobility between local firms and MNEs in North Africa

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review



  • Fawzi Tighersi, University of Birmingham
  • ,
  • Abderaouf Bouguerra, Copenhagen Business School
  • ,
  • Ismail Golgeci
  • Yasin Rofcanin, Bath University, United Kingdom
Purpose - The purpose of this study is to explore employees’ knowledge and learning related experiences in moving between local firms and MNEs and examine the nature of paradoxes of labor mobility that local talents face in their career in the North African country of Algeria. In doing so, we explored the multifaceted experiences of employees who left local firms and joined MNEs.

Design/methodology/approach - We utilize a qualitative study, in-depth interviews, with 12 employees from various industries and apply an interpretive phenomenological approach to explain labor mobility between local firms and multinational enterprises (MNEs) in the North African country of Algeria. We specifically focus on personal experiences of employees who worked in both local firms and MNEs.

Findings - Our findings report a paradoxical situation and suggest that despite talented individuals grow their capabilities in MNEs through reward and personal growth incentives; the grass is not always greener, and they face the paradox of nurturing their capabilities (wings) or empowering their roots by returning local firms to seek stability, security, and flexibility.

Originality/value - This study contributes to the research at the intersection of human resource management, knowledge management, and the paradox of management in emerging markets. Its value stems from empirically explicating the paradox of roots and wings as a complementary, learning type of paradox that individuals at local firms and MNEs in Algeria experience.

Keywords: Human resource management, knowledge management, labor mobility, local firms, MNEs, paradox, Africa.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Knowledge Management
Pages (from-to)56-80
Number of pages25
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020

    Research areas

  • Human resource management, Knowledge management, Labour mobility, Local firms, MNEs, Paradox

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