Do you agree with Harvard that international people are more creative?

global people, Harvard

If you work or study abroad you are likely to be more creative, a better problem solver, start new businesses, be a better manager, get promoted and create new products. Provided that you integrate and adapt to the countries where you live and become bi- or multicultural.

Harvard Business Review article

According to research carried out by professors William W. Maddux, Adam D. Galinsky, and Carmit T. Tadmor and published in Harvard Business Review “Be a Better Manager: Live Abroad” (if you end up on an ad just click go to site) people who are international or have more than one nationality benefit from it in many ways.

Bicultural individuals scored higher than monoculturals on the different tests carried out which, as the professors put it, is good for companies. That’s not saying that monocultural people don’t have the qualities tested, merely that being international further develop those qualities in an individual. There are also, in my opinon, other ways for monocultural people that are open minded and curious to broaden their mind, be more flexible and hence increase their creativity. The comments to the HBR article agree or disagree depending on if the person has lived abroad or not.

Conclusions a reflection of future businesspeople

Already today the world is irrevocably one global market. Next generation of businesspeople will prove the professors’ findings correct. Already now young people study and work abroad like never before and are fluent in English at an early age.

Local and regional businesses will increasingly start operating on a global level and bi- or multicultural experience will hence gradually increase.

Propitious timing of HBR article

Thinking out of the box is essential in our integrated world and an ability to approach issues from different global perspectives is becoming increasingly important.

Since I have lived and worked all over the world I’m obviously biased. Have just taken the positive aspects of being international for granted and honestly not given it much thought.

The option of academically testing how exposure to different cultures increase your abilities to look at problems from new and previously alien perspectives never even entered my mind.

The world is gradually becoming one huge country and the timing of the findings published in Harvard Business Review are hence propicious. In the future more and more people will look at the world as their market and be prepared to move to the other side of the globe to get a job. If the professors findings contribute to making more people realise the benefits of becoming global citizens it will be beneficial.

Global experience makes you flexible

Have learnt a multitude from various cultures. The most educational experience was Saudi Arabia. Almost every day something happens that you have never experienced before, positive or negative. And frequently it’s simply a question of adapting or failing. The same actually applies to when I lived in Japan, but to a lesser degree.

It was a positive surprise that research published in Harvard Business Review indicate that being a “global citizen” develop your abilities. That not only international but also local businesses will increasingly benefit from global minds.

Do you agree that the world is irrevocably one global market? Or will Trumpism put an end to that? Will more people live, work and study abroad in the future? Is it a logical step in our integrated world that people increasingly become global citizens? Are the professors findings that global people develop their abilities in ways that benefit companies correct? Will people with a global frame of mind find it easier to get promoted, start a business or create new products? Does your company, as the professors recommend, have expatriate programs to develop better managers? Or maybe you disagree with the professors’ conclusions that the more exposure you get to different situations, problems, scenarios and cultures the more enhanced and creative your ability to solve problems will be?

Photo: World Economic Forum

132 thoughts on “Do you agree with Harvard that international people are more creative?

  1. I went to a school where there were a lot of international students. I can agree about this since a lot of people are going to other countries to work and study. I think this makes people become more open minded even if they didn't travel abroad. You could still be opened to different viewpoints without traveling because you can be exposed different people coming from different cultures. It depends how open minded people are.

    1. It probably makes a small difference. But in order to understand a culture completely different from your own you have to live, work/study and integrate there. If not, it's impossible to think they way they do and approach a problem from a different mindset.

  2. After hosting many foreign students the results of this study come as no surprise. Seeing first hand how they are able to adapt to the new living arrangements was fafascinating. They see the world differently that is for certain . Nevertheless, they were quickly able to adapt to what have here and make due without the comforts of their home country. it really helped see another person's point of view.

  3. This makes me wonder if it is the chicken before the egg argument. Are people more international, and this exposure makes them more creative, or being creative makes you open to different ideas, and so it is easier to be international?
    The world is a global market, but I fear for the new isolation mentality which seems to be spreading. First the Bexit vote then Trump being elected in the U.S. If this continues, the countries who are still international, will reap the rewards of it.

    1. Trump and Brexit will minimum halt the global market. But that does not change the fact that if you understand different cultures you are able to think in ways that would not otherwise have occured to you. Believe me, William, if you had experienced how it enhances your mind you would agree.

  4. I agree that the world is irrevocably one global market and people who work and study abroad are exposed to wider opportunities & more exposure to different situations, problems, scenarios and cultures than the more enhanced and creative their ability to solve problems but one must believe in starting at some point or the other, maybe that's the reason we residents from such a diverse country are also good when it comes to problem-solving or making way out! Thanks for sharing Catarina.

    1. Glad you agree with me. Sushmita. Some of you are but not all, believe me. Plenty of people from your country drove me nuts in KSA and the Gulf because they were not able to think and on top of it didn't understand what they were supposed to do. And the ones that did understand were often extremely dishonest and didn't even try to hide it. You could sit in front of a guy from your country who was executive assistant to a president of a leading company and he would make it clear to you that he, not the president, will cheat you. Have never come across anything as bad as that anywhere, including in your country.

      1. I can connect with the difficulties you faced there are many back here as well who never want to understand what they are supposed to do nor can they think of anything at all nor are they concerned about the consequences on faces due to their attitude and behavior. Yes, there are few who take advantage of their position we hope that we will be able to overcome these situations and improvise in coming time.

  5. Having cultural exposure benefits anyone in business or personal development. Back in college, I wish I had the opportunity to study abroad for a capstone class because being able to apply learnings in a different setting only broaden one’s comprehension. Thanks for sharing!

  6. It's easy enough to understand that people who have studied or lived abroad have a broader base of knowledge to draw from and of course that will be beneficial to business. I know quite a few members of our sons generation that now are or have worked overseas, often in Mumbai or the United Arab Emirates
    But while it may benefit business, I wonder how people moving all over the globe to work will actually impact families.

  7. Yes, I feel people with a more global outlook will succeed far greater across the world than those who do not. To work abroad it is highly beneficial to understand the culture. How else will one integrate?

  8. I feel that this is true if one is ready to accept change and try to mix, experience from other cultures. If one is ready to change then for sure it will have a positive effect on mind and one can become a better problem solver. With exposure one gets experience to solve problems.

    As per my experience, I have learnt a lot from few countries I lived or visited. Everyday comes with a new information. People living with different cultures are more flexible and open minded, this is what I believe.

  9. I agree that exposures to different situations and cultures enhances creativity and problem-solving abilities, as long as someone is open-minded and learns to respect the differences and learn from other cultures. Attitude is important.

    1. Exactly, Donna. The key to benefitting is to integrate in cultures different to your own. If you do you will learn to look at issues from points of views that would not even have occured to you otherwise.

  10. I think being exposed to different environments can influence how creative you are. When you are exposed to new ideas and concepts, it does broaden your thinking. I also think it is how you approach a new environment too. Many people go abroad with an ethnocentric bias, and come back the same way as when they left.

  11. I fully agree! Whether it’s out of necessity and/or a survival mechanism, expats have to “hit the ground running” in order to succeed with life in a new country. With time, this becomes a habit and part of the constitution of an expat. Expats are hungry for relevant information and arrive in new places with open eyes which should make them an interesting target group for local actors, for example in the restaurant and travel sectors.

  12. I totally agree Catarina. I am still in touch with family and friends in Holland (email is wonderful) and I often receive quite different opinions that I expected. Also, in may ways they are much more advanced in their thinking when it comes to the environment, and I often learn a lot from them. I don’t know how they would fare if they were to come here but I think they would be more likely to adapt to our customs, introduce us to their customs and we would both benefit, whether in life or in business.

  13. Yes I do agree and it has been my experience that people who have lived in other cultures, not people who just hop on a place to go to a meeting, often bring a broader perspective to issues. But for some the ability to travel and live abroad is a socioeconomic issue, so in the back of mind is a reminder that there are many bright and creative people who do not get this opportunity.

    1. Glad you agree, Ken. Don't forget that you have millions of people who are refugees who fall into this category. Provided that they integrate in the country they settle in they benefit from being able to see issues from different points of view.

  14. I am not surprised by the results of the study. While is haven't lived in another culture myself, I have hosted several foreign students and know first hand how they see things from a different perspective. It was always interesting to see how quickly they would learn to adapt to their new living arrangements. In the beginning it was always stressful, but they learned to problem solve as they adjusted to the many differences what they were used to at home and what they now had in the US. I think it really helped them be able to see another person's point of view, which is always a good thing.

  15. Completely agree Catarina. Not only have I seen this in business, I've seen it personally as well. I know people that have lived in the same town their entire lives and never traveled outside of the US borders. Their opinions are firm and non-retractable about just about everything! When it comes to business, learning to adapt is essential and in this global commerce environment, being placed in a different culture can certainly be a bonus. So are Global people more creative? I think the Harvard people got it right.

    1. Spot on, Jacqueline. When you integrate and learn how they think in different cultures your ability to look at issues from points of views you didn't even know existed is developed.

  16. Working globally would certainly treat you to new experiences and increase your curiosity as well as requiring flexibility. I haven’t worked globally but have traveled enough to appreciate the fact that there not everyone thinks or reacts the same as they might in one’s hometown. And that’s a good thing. New experiences are good for our brains!

  17. Hi Catarina,I agree with everything you said….as part of my degree at university, we all had to spend 1 year abroad- something I will always be grateful for. Now I live in China, and working here has taught me so much…how to work with Chinese people, different problems and different approaches to solving them, work ethics etc. I know that these skills will enhance my outlook when I return to Europe to work. I think it should be mandatory in schools/universities to spend a little time abroad….but I guess it’s not for everybody!

  18. by living globally, lucklly media and transprtation makes it simple , you will be introduced to different cultures and you see how people think differentlly based on there culture and needs.

  19. Catarina , Estoy totalmente de acuerdo con el estudio , la mente se estimula el doble o mas , ante cualquier situacion , pensamos bi-culturalmente y resolvemos mas ampliamente , esto lo digo con mucho respeto , hacia los demas Lo escribo en Español para demostrarle a aquelllos que no saben el idioma , que su esfuerzo por entender , lo hacen pensar mas

    1. Glad you agree with me Leo. Speak Spanish but doubt that the majority of readers do. Neither do they speak Swedish so I hence write in English.

      By the way, what countries have you lived, worked/studied and integrated in?

  20. In brief: Do not forget that such people could be like one-eyed among sightless. Their crativeness is settled by their position…. 🙂

  21. Catarina,

    It certainly makes sense to me that understanding other cultures can help you in business. I see that in my own borough, which has a large variety of backgrounds of people. Sometimes I do more listening than talking to learn other points of view. Though there is also the possibility than one lives abroad but lives in a ghetto with people like oneself. It's the listening part that is crucial.

    – Leora
    My recent post Analytics Tools to Understand Website Visitors

    1. Good points Leora. Far too many expats don't integrate but sticks to their own. Swedes stick to Swedes, Americans to Americans and so forth. Just like it used to be in the US earlier on Little Italy and so forth. Those people don't benefit as much as they would if they integrated. You are so right that you have to listen and maybe, above all, curiosity. If you don't have a desire to know and understand why things are the way they are chances you will find out, or notice if you do, are slim.

    2. Women Entrepreneurs Worldwide agrees that having a better understanding of other cultures and incorporating diversity into your business structure is a definite benefit. Our next 6 "Building Cultural Relationships and Networking Bridges Globally" forum tours intorduces and networks with women entrepreneurs globally.
      My recent post Entrepreneur Traveler Offers The Keys

      1. Yes for us women understanding cultures is as important as it is to men. However, don't forget that we also need to live, work/study and integrate in a culture to fully understand it:-)

  22. Hi Catarina, Boy I see I missed being here early… LOL.

    I believe it is not surprise that the study points this out. Learning and living in another culture forces an individual to see things from a different perspective. I have not done that myself, but I have seen that from our many foreign students. What was interesting was seeing how they would adapt (or not) to their new circumstances. It was very stressful for them in the beginning, but it stretched them to problem solve thenmany differences between where they came from and their new environment. It made them a better and more thoughtful person all around. They were more apt to see another's point of view. That is always a good thing.
    My recent post Alexander Valley Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2009: Wine

  23. Martin, most likely the professors are biased. That's usually the case. The worst I have seen was research that showed that all followers of one religion had one gene in common. The fact that the followers are from all over the world and of all races didn't stop them from concluding that.

    What the professors have looked at are people who have lived in worked/studied and integrated in different cultures. That's very different from travelling. And that does have an impact on what you describe as "people of all cultures have their own distinct opinons that matter only to..". When you can look at a problem from different mind sets it develops your abilities enormously.

  24. Yes Catarina I think it is essential that everyone take the time to travel and understand other cultures (if you can). I am determined that my son be well traveled and maybe one day study abroad. I met one of my closest friends when she was an exchange student here and it was her that initially gave me the travel bug.
    I am unsure if it actually make you more creative etc. but what you do learn about tolerance etc. and broadening your horizons can't be overlooked.
    My recent post Christmas Gratitude

    1. Good idea to want your son to study abroad. It's important to integrate in different cultures. That's how your abilities perform since you learn to think in other ways. Your problem solving skills, creativity and so forth do improve when you learn how to look at issues from several points of view.

  25. It would be hard to disagree with the premise of the article. However, having worked in public schools, I can readily attest to how xenophobic much of America remains. Some people naturally have the opportunity for such experiences, while others do not. Many others (such as myself) seek such experiences out. I think the real issue is how to bring global experiences to more people who would not necessarily get the chance to live and work with foreigners. More could be done to actively foster that type of growth in people.
    My recent post Author Interview: Alberto Arcia

      1. Plus now I would add one of my former students is lucky enough to be spending a semester abroad in Italy. She's able to see and do a lot, but at the end of the day, will most likely return with many of her notions still unchanged and will most likely end up doing international work for the Mormon church. Then again, maybe it's just my bias against busybody missionaries showing…

  26. I think I have to agree with the basic point that people who are exposed to multicultural experiences may very well think outside the box better in some ways than those who do not have those experiences. I am making this statement from personal experience. Until I traveled and lived outside of the US I really was ignorant of many things. You can know something conceptually, but to actually experience it is something else entirely. I think perhaps this may give your 'thinking outside the box' skills some advantage.
    My recent post My iPad mini

  27. I've read your blog post, keeping the HBR article for a read another day. Based on the blog post, I do think a global frame of mind is vital. It makes one more receptive to diversity. Today customers are no longer local, suppliers are no longer local, why the person on the street or in the next cubicle may be from another culture. An open mind which embraces diversity in all its forms is important.
    My recent post The Bankster

  28. I just think that the reason of such more creative behaviour is different upbringing. If person lives in definite country he gets definite education, values that works in this area so if he moves he is "new" person with different menthality . He doesnt have cut and dried opinions.

  29. Hi Catarina
    Nice article. I think that people that lived or live currently abroad have more flexibility and they are openminded, but not neccesary they have to be more creative. I am from Spain and although due to the reccesion the situation is changing, spanish people is reactive to go abroad. However I encourage young people to spend at least one or 2 years overseas. It is a great oppotunity.

  30. The paper describes three experiments: Duncker candle problem in MBA students, Remote Associates Task (RAT) in undergraduates and integrative complexity tests in Israeli managers in Sillicon valley. Was the sample size of these experiments adequate? We don't know. Do the above tests really assess so called creativity? We don't know. Is 42% versus 60% a statistically significant difference? Again we don't know. There are obviously many confounding factors in the results of such experiments eg. Israeli managers may be more educated than others. I don't think we can jump to conclusions from these experiments. To answer such questions, adequately large multinational studies are required which should have very objective criteria. Exposures to multiple cultures must be making people more flexible in their approach but that may not be related to creativity. If that was true majority (if not all) of Nobel laureates, Booker winners, Pulitzer winners, Oscar winners, CEOs of big companies should have been multicultural, which obviously is not the case.

    1. Prasad, thank you for your comment. I can neither take credit for nor defend the research the professors carried out. Strongly suggest you write to them and explain and outline your analysis of their work. Or at least write an article for Harvard Business Review.

  31. Yes I agree but only if you are open and willing to change your own thinking and behavior related to other people and cultures. I have noticed some people are afraid of to much creativity and try to avoid disruptive innovation if they feel challenged. It depends a lot of the leaders ability to make people feel listened to and appreciated for their ideas. I think the NIMBY is very appropriate, and people who are working internationally are used to see it from different perspectives.

  32. I agree! I was born in one country, have the nationality of another, have lived in a few other countries and speak 7 languages.
    I think that exposing yourself to multiple surfaces is an excellent predictor of creativity.

    My recent post 8 reasons why you need to prototype to be innovative

  33. Hi Catarina,

    I think international people just had better opportunities when it came to interacting with different people, thus, they become more flexible and able to adapt in any situation. Maybe there are just more creative international people than monocultural ones. I believe we can all be global citizens in the near future based on how technologies made the world smaller for us nowadays.

    ~ Calli

  34. Totally agree
    Monocultural, Bicultural, Global Citizen, with the globe turned to a cosmopolitan city, companies accusations and mergers, branches and sister companies all over the world, would you hire a monoculture leader to align him/her with your company (which has its own culture) or a bi-or even a tri-cultural professional, who by definition is an adaptable, experienced change manager and team player person? What most hiring managers are looking for is the best fit of a predefined cultural candidate overlooking that bicultural professionals are well equipped to adapt, start performing and producing. Let us spread out this discussion and widen the participation, there are big number of highly qualified and skilled professional lost because of the predefinition and bicultural experience.

  35. Based on personal experience, the knowledge one gains from international exposure can provide greater perspective and an abiding respect for cultural differences. But I'm not certain that creativity goes hand in hand with this. Some of the most creative folk I've encountered in my career have been found on the shop-floor of my plants. Kinda humbling…..

    1. Depends on how you define creativity, doesn't it Bill?

      A common definition is: "Creativity refers to the phenomenon whereby a person creates something new (a product, a solution, a work of art etc.) that has some kind of value."

      If the professors define creativity that way then creativity is increased according to their results.

  36. I agree that living abroad can activate creativity, especially living in some dangerous place abroad :))

  37. Before I answer this quetion, I would ask Harvard to explain how creativity is related to GDP. If we consider the GDP of the USA is 4X that of the next 4 largest economies in the world and 14X that of the majority of the rest of the courtries in the world.

    1. David, please click on the link to the article in HBR in my article. Then contact them and ask them how creativity is related to GDP. Or contact Harvard Business School directly. Do let me know what they answer.

  38. Judging by what I see on there is a lot of unknown talent internationally, but overall there is a super amount of talent period, no matter what socio-economic place they come from. But there is something to be said about taking yourself out of the familiar and placing yourself amongst unknown surroundings. It really makes you want to be better for being around great talent.

  39. This is very true. Exploriing a new environment where you are a total stranger seems to bring out a better you because you are new and you get to do some things that you usual environment wont permit you not because you usual environment does not permit it but simply because of the effect of farmiliarity of the environment on you. Dont ever underestimate the effect of familiarity on your level of creativity and productivity. I believe that our minds is more creative in a new environment that you are not familiar with what they 'call the normal thing'………………there is alot to say on this

  40. Knowing the multycultural Behaviores give more option to solving problems in our Routine life .This is the Right Question?

  41. If you accept the premise that any new experience builds your skills — both work and personal — than having international experience can be a plus. But I have U.S. friends who were offered jobs for 2-3 years abroad with the understanding the international experience would lead them to a better job when they returned. Instead, they discovered when they returned that the organization had moved on without them and the people they knew were gone or in different jobs. In each case they eventually left the company. So, I say beware and have a plan for re-entry if you intend to return to your homeland.

  42. Catarina, aloha. Quite honestly, it depends on the person and what they gain from the experience. A person can live in a country that is foreign to them, cling to old beliefs and patterns despite being forced to adapt. In their minds, nothing has changed rather it is a detour and as soon as possible they will return to "normal."

    A person could grow up in a small town in most any country and, because of curiosity, be far more creative than someone who has moved from country to country in the same type of job for some faceless corporation.

    With the internet, people interact on a daily basis with people from a multitude of countries. Many, many friendships have developed that enhanced creativity of both parties because they learned how to interact and to communicate effectively with others.

    Catarina, I believe it's the person and that person's attitude towards life that determines creativity.

    Thx for another thought provoking post. Aloha. Janet

  43. It's an interesting article Catarina but I personally don't care for mass generalizations like this study even if it was published in Harvard Business Review. Not everyone has the resources to study or work abroad.
    My recent post Can Bloggers Learn a Lesson From Watching American Idol

  44. I think living abroad is an important factor is success and creativity because the sheer experience of visiting new places opens your minds in ways traveling the same block in your hometown year after year does not.

    Besides all that, traveling is FUN and keeps your energy popping! To be sure, success requires a "popping like crazy" amount of energy!

  45. The article indeed spurs one to think about the concept of being "international" or just part of the new "global country". I am sure that many people are very creative as monoculture e.g. a close relative has never lived abroad but his entrepreneurial skills has allowed him to be a guest lecturer for MBA students. Just think of Bill Gates or Mr. Facebook….. Makes you think doesn’t it. But, "yes"; I do believe living in different countries does expose you to many cultures and makes you a lot more "open" for new ideas as a manager.

  46. I agree partly with the academic findings. I fully agree with the underlying assumption that the world is becoming one global market. Although, I have not studied statistics lately, I believe it could easily be proven to be a fact. When this is true, to operate in even a local corporate, gives you a comparative advantage as a global citizen.
    However, at the end of the day you can argue that a curious person, that has never travelled, could acquire the same knowledge from reading, studying and being connected to the world outside. So, I only partly agree that global citizens are better equipped to be creative in corporate setting. I prefer to talk about people 'skilled with a global mind' more than global citizens. Being an expatriate all my life, I have always been impressed when I have come across local people with broad minds and equally impressed to meet people living abroad unaffected by the global setting they operate in.

  47. I really do not know if international people are necessarily more creative than persons who have not had (or looked for) an international experience; however, I have found throughout my own experience that a multicultural environment enriches not only the professional experience of the expats or foreigners, but also the monoculturals' one as well. The choke between cultures enriches the experience of anyone (of course anyone who is open to learn from others). I am part of the generation that needs to be more prepared in both, the local and the international fields in order to perform according to global markets. Today, speaking one language is not enough and at least for me, English has been (as a second language) a must to learn. I strongly believe that following generations will have to master more than two languages. Moreover, I think that new generations will have to familiarize with international environments at early ages (if possible). This will help them to adapt (and maybe understand) more rapidly a fast-paced global market.

  48. One thing to keep in mind is that correlation does not equal causation (science basics). While this study can act as a spring-board to other studies, the study can not scientifically yield a “yay” or “nay” to either the claim that intelligence/creativity/problem solving/ etc, is a product of varying social exposure. All the study can conclude is that there is a correlation between creativity and bicultural exposure.

    That being said, I do think that an innate aptitude for creativity will flourish with increased exposure to other countries, societies, people, situations, etc. Every new situation stimulates the mind and mental stimulation often prompts creative thoughts.

  49. The expression global market is deceiving, as it makes one think that there is a single environment where the same rules and needs apply. Reality though is far from it and any product and service undergoes a level of localization that leverages on the local culture. We should rather speak of "reachable markets" where, in order to be successful, is essential to understand what makes the "locals" tick and accept.
    Expats who have been exposed and embraced at a deeper level other cultures have this understanding, as well as expertise and knowledge from another system, which does give them a competitive advantage on both worlds.
    It is also true that this understanding is not just the result of a passive exposure, but it is the fruit of a curiosity, empathy and eagerness that is not to be found in every expat.
    In my numerous stints of living abroad (still counting countries and continents) it never ceased to amaze me how some people possess this ability without never living home and others live in many countries and never develop it.
    So as a suggestion, in order to validate the results of the research a prior assessment of the personality traits of the participants should be carried on and then compare apple with apple… Not an easy task as I have no knowledge of a personality test capable of delivering a reading on the many aspects involved in this particular situation.
    I have created an expatriate awareness assessment to measure how primed an individual is towards accepting other cultures which in part takes into account personality and in part digs into personal history. May be a tool to be tested in this context?

  50. I just don't take that as a fact. I believe that for the main argument of the article to be true you'll need to have the appropriate mindset, to begin with. And that depends on many factors, even your educational background and family cultural values. If you are used to be inquisitorial, give more importance to the whys, what ifs, and other inquisitive habits, you'll be a creative person, whether you have international experience or not.
    I know a lot of expats, and other international professionals that stay attached to their own cultural values as a survival buoy and refuses to see the cultural differences of the countries were they are working and/or living. To many of them, this global world and markets are not a positive happening, but otherwise around.

    1. Luis, it seems to me you are saying what the professors are saying but in a different way.

      The professors found that people who didn't adapt and integrate didn't score better than monoculturals.

      In other words people who have what you call "the appropriate mindset" scored better while the rest of the people you describe didn't score better than monoculturals.

  51. I strongly believe that exposure to, or – possibly even better – immersion in, multiple cultures has to yield more creative thinking. The point of different cultures is that they see, and do, things differently. This certainly helps one to provide different inputs to all sorts of issues. In my career I’ve seen the value of diversity in teams on the “shop floor” and in the boardroom – and this diversity is boosted by team members with multicultural experience.

    1. Agree with you Guy by being strongly in favor of those findings in the study . During my MBA there were 31 nations present among 60 of us and what was astonishing was how each one of us used the same and similar set of business tools leading to various results, and that was just great. People with international experience easily find their way across different cultures and tend to think out of the box as their natural way of life, new normal. This in my belief is the main reason for their increasing creativity which leads to higher success-rate in whatever they do.

  52. International travel requires one to confront challenges that tend to exercise one's creativity, but it's the not the fact that it's international travel — just challenge and adversity. To that end, visiting cultures that are most like one's own would not produce as great a leap in creativty exercise. Many cities in the U.S. are far more culturally diverse for these and other reasons. American culture, and particularly corporate culture, does not reward creativity for creativity's sake — it must produce certain bottom line financial results to have merit. There are aspects of American culture that disincentivize creativity. It is not because it is domestic or American. Just a measure that there are places in American culture where people are not so-challenged. The report is snobbish and ignores those apsects of American society that do result in greater creativity than overseas.

  53. I agree with the professors, as I like to believe to be part of the generation they describe.
    Even people that do not leave to work abroad are more exposed to an international environment, which has a positive impact.
    The global market is a fact, and it is so closely integrated that it is irrevocable entwined.
    The open mined international business people are more likely to pursue opportunities, corporate and innovate.
    A global future is a proven way to success and open markets are the way to economic opportunity for all.
    Many examples throughout history have proven this.

  54. The writer admits to her bias but doesn't then explore and alternative scenarios. I have found that the corporate world is very good at taking advantage of people who are willing and able to travel, that will render them multicultural, but more importantly they can head up outsourcing initiatives and give the head office close contact with the foreign cultures. This doesn't make the corporation more friendly towards foreigners or ex-pats, you will still find the executive board is primarily nationals of the home country. Figureheads like CEO can be ex-pats but the majority of the influential positions which have lower turnover remain with home-grown talent.

    It isn't clear from any statistics in the article how the conclusion is drawn that living abroad makes better managers but I would be wary that just because we have more ex-pat management today we jump to the conclusion that this is an advance in management method as opposed to a raw need for outsourcing support. If the capability to have production in low wage countries is realised by shipping managers over, then the multiculturalism is actually a by-product of a cost cutting exercise. Of course the corporation will prefer to portray this a cleverly engineered benefit.

    1. Get the impression you are sceptical to the professors' findings Saz. Presumably they didn't explore alternative scenarios becasue they were not part of their research?

      1. Maybe they were ingesting alternative substances. Generally, I find that surveys find out what the research is looking for.

        1. Interesting David that on Linkedin you agree with the findings whilst at the same time you are of the opinion that academic research come to the conclusions they want.

  55. Hi Catarina,

    Interesting article. I think the world is definitely heading towards being a global market with the readily available technologies making it easier to do so. In general, I think that having a varied background and more exposure to different cultures does lend itself to seeing things from various perspectives and does enhance one's creative ability to solve problems.

    My recent post Free or Me A Real Case Study

  56. Although I have been exposed to many cultures and complex situations with 20 years of expatriation, I am not sure if I am more creative than a person same age who is curious by nature, never lived abroad but love solving difficult problems and therefore developed an" out of the box thinking". Attitude is key, willing to learn from others and trying to understand without judging is more important in creativity than being an "expat" expert. I also think entrepreneurs are often more creative than international people working for big global companies.
    Regarding IQ tests and other "standard" testing, bilingual or multicultural children might score bellow average because they did not learn country specific facts like knowing historical key dates for example or simply did not learn the metric system. However I think people who lived in multiple countries are often more tolerant and accept difference as the norm. Therefore they might be more prone to benefit from cross-fertilizations of different ideas. Adaptation to a new cultural environment requires a lot of flexibility and creativity so maybe international people have a competitive advantage in a world becoming more global everyday but it is not a guaranty, it depends very much on individual mindset and behavior.

    1. Agree with you completely Anne. That's most likely the reason the professors found that people who had lived abroad and notadapted and integrated into the culture didn't score higher.

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