A recent article in the Harvard Business Review highlights the importance of living abroad, and the positive impacts it can have on your career. Not only will this benefit the individual manager, but the company sending their workers abroad as well.
According to research done by William Maddux, a professor at Insead, Adam Galinsky, a professor at Northwestern, and Carmit T. Tadmor, a professor at Tel Aviv University, people with international experience are better problem solvers and display more creativity. The same people who can identify with more than one nationality and understand other cultures are more likely to create new businesses and products, and move higher up in an organization.
But it isn’t simply enough to just go or live abroad. Research showed that those who made an effort to adapt to their host countries scored significantly higher in creative enhancement than those who had not. Being able to adapt to more than one culture can also increase your ability to integrate multiple perspectives on different issues, called integrative complexity. This would greatly increase your job performance.
So what can you do as a company? Well for one, expatriate programs are good for developing better managers. Not only should there be a program, but make sure that the professionals are emerged in the local culture. The more they interact with the locals and engage in the culture, the more creativity that will emerge.
As an individual, if you are looking for that edge in your career that will separate you from your peers, an international experience is a great way to start. Take advantage of study abroad programs while in school, and be sure to interact with those of other cultures if they are studying at your university. Be sure to utilize your company’s resources, and don’t be afraid to sign up for an international assignment when offered. Being able to serve on a multicultural team, and taking advantage of cross-functional opportunities will elevate your skills, knowledge, and abilities even farther, making you a much needed asset in your organization.