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

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, global citizen, international people, William W. Maddux, Adam D. Galinsky,  Carmit T. Tadmor , Harvard Busines Review, HBR

Do you agree with the professors 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?

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? 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: Flickr – World Economic Forum

112 comments to Do you agree with Harvard that global people are more creative?

  • Leo Laffitte  says:

    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

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      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?

  • Omar Bafakieh  says:

    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.

  • Noelle McNamara  says:

    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!

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Spot on, Noelle, that's what happens if we integrate.

  • bethnieb  says:

    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!

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Exactly, Beth. The key is to integrate in another culture and learn how they think. That develops your ability to come up with new ways of looking at an issue.

  • jacquiegum  says:

    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.

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      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.

  • Susan Cooper  says:

    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.

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Good points, Susan. It does make a difference to learn how things are done in different countries.

  • Ken Dowell  says:

    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.

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      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.

  • Cheryl  says:

    My thoughts on this subject have not changed. I am in agreement.

  • lenie5860  says:

    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.

  • Jenny Chandler  says:

    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.

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Somehow not surprised you agree, Jenny. All the best to you.

  • William Rusho  says:

    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.

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Glad you agree, William. What makes a difference is if you integrate in other cultures. If you do you will learn to look at issues from other points of view.

  • donnajanke  says:

    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.

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      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.

  • andleebakhlaqkhan  says:

    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.

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Yes, Andleeb, when you integrate in cultures different from your own you learn to think in ways that would otherwise not occur do you.

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