Overseas Professionals Need to Integrate Home and Host Cultures for Personal Success

Living abroad is more satisfying, if you can identify with both cultures, according to new research from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, in the US.

The recent study suggests that those working overseas are likely to remain happy, both professionally and emotionally, if they can embrace their host country’s culture along with their own.

The study, carried out by Carmit Tadmor of Tel Aviv University, Adam Galinsky of the Kellogg School, and William Maddux of INSEAD, states, ‘The ability to simultaneously identify with both one’s host and home cultures and the resulting capacity for complex thinking may be a key to translating foreign experiences abroad into a tangible toolbox that bolsters one’s creative ability and professional skill to the highest level.

Living abroad gives the opportunity for individuals to enhance creativity and integrative complexity, but taking a bicultural approach while abroad may be the key to producing lasting cognitive changes and psychological benefits.’

For students and professionals living outside their countries, reaching professional and personal success will be largely dependent on their ability to integrate both cultures, through identification with the host country, and maintaining their roots with their home country.

Lead author, Carmit Tadmor, said, ‘Although living abroad does help in honing creative abilities compared to not living abroad, not all individuals who have lived abroad will be equally successful in deriving a positive benefit from such experiences.

Rather, it seems that only individuals who are able to simultaneously maintain a connection to one’s own cultural heritage while identifying with the new host culture will develop the requisite integrative complexity levels that will ultimately produce greater creative and professional success.’