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The University of Southampton

A Moveable Feast: How Transformational Cross-Cultural Experiences Facilitate Creativity

William W. Maddux
INSEAD, France

Living abroad has beneficial effects on creativity and professional performance. In general, individuals who had lived abroad and adapted to their host countries are more creative than those who have not had such experiences. In subsequent work, we deconstructed some of the critical elements of this phenomenon. We find that creative benefits are best realized when individuals incorporate both home and host cultures into their personal identities, leading to enhanced integrative complexity and thus more creativity. More recent work extends these findings to some professional domains as well: Bicultural entrepreneurs and fashion designers who have lived abroad exhibit better professional performance that those with less multicultural experience. Overall, this research demonstrates how and why transformational cross-cultural experiences lead to enhanced creativity and professional performance.

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