We have contended here that the laws of physics are not applicable to the global-local dilemma, which is not solved by simply identifying a suitable mid-point between centripetal (global) and centrifugal (local) forces, but by learning to live with the tension between them. In fact, innovative breakthroughs in international assignments often necessitate solutions that elevate rather than lower the local versus global tension, as it occurs in instances where the executive understands the importance of retaining key innovation drivers in spite of their apparent opposition to local ways. We hope the preceding discussion steers further thinking on global human capital away from the accommodation paradigm represented by the adage “when in Rome, do as the Romans do.” Indeed, much of the innovation potential in international ventures stems from holding on to the global imperatives that define the corporate brand, even when (or precisely because of) such imperatives appear to pull the business in a different direction than that exerted by local forces.

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