Taking a job overseas?

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Melissa Korn | Wall Street Journal
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Moving abroad used to be considered a surefire way to move up the corporate ladder, but it’s no longer that simple.
A new report suggests that merely taking a work assignment abroad doesn’t do much to improve creativity or propel employees along the path to career success.

What does lead to a career boost is actively integrating one’s home culture—values, hobbies, world view—with that of the adopted overseas home, say three researchers from Tel Aviv University, Insead and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.
It’s easy to be an American in Paris and surround yourself with fellow expatriates or to completely adopt a French identity. It’s tougher to live with one foot in both cultures, the researchers say.

“You have to think complexly about how to behave” in social situations, discussions about politics and cultural traditions, says Adam Galinsky, one of the report’s authors and a professor at Kellogg.
Researchers call this trait “biculturalism.”

In one study, the researchers measured the cultural affiliations of 78 Insead M.B.A. students who had lived abroad, asking about their identity, views and values. The students, who had an average of more than four years of international exposure, were then asked to list a number of ways to use a brick, a test of their creative capacity. People who simultaneously identified with their home and host cultures while abroad came up with more ideas, and more unique ideas.

The study will be published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

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