Study abroad as a tool for enhancing cultural competencies: a framework for future employee outcomes
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Type of Workapplication/pdf
vii, 51 pages
DepartmentTowson University. Department of Psychology
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Previous research has found that study abroad programs (SAPs) offer a valuable educational experience during the postsecondary years, with benefits including language learning, global awareness, and changing internal attitudes towards other cultures. Additionally, some research has found that SAP participation positively impacts students' future career outcomes (Dwyer, 2004). However, no research to date has connected the gains achieved by studying abroad with work outcomes in a quantitative research design. In the current study, a sample of study abroad students demonstrated significant increases in cross-cultural adaptability and cultural intelligence (known as cultural competencies) as a result of participating in a SAP compared to a control group. Further, a sample of SAP alumni displayed significantly greater cultural competencies than a sample of American full-time workers that did not study abroad. SAP alumni cultural competencies were also positively correlated with four self-report measures of job performance. Finally, an exploratory assessment revealed a potential effect of regional SAP destination on cultural competency development. Implications for future research and a framework of understanding the long-term impact of study abroad are discussed.