Living abroad proven to improve creativity

August 8, 2011

This bold statement comes from a recent study done by William Maddux, an assistant professor of organisational behaviour at INSEAD.

According to him, travelling abroad for a short holiday is not enough to boost your creativity. It is a matter of fully immersing ourselves in local experiences. The experience will lead to an even more positive correlation when the amount of time spent overseas increase – “it’s the psychological transformation that you might go through while you’re abroad.” However, for this statement to be true, the expatriates need to spend some time with locals and not only with other expatriates, trying to adapt themselves to the new culture.

M. Maddux adds that bi-lingual and tri-lingual people are more creative in general due to the robust association between foreign language aptitude and creativity. “Language is a part of the adaptation”, he says.

According to the study, the benefits of living abroad go way beyond. “We’re finding the same correlation between time abroad and entrepreneurial activity … Entrepreneurs tend to have the experience of having been abroad as well.”

Maddux advices to companies that are promoting creativity to consider these enriching experiences abroad when it is time hire new employees.

Offering international assignments with emphasis on adaptability is also key for developing significant mental processes.

Finally, Maddux agrees that living abroad is not the only way of facilitating creativity, but “it is a major driver.”

To view the full article, visit the Forum For Expatriate Management website.

Source: Milton Rivera Manga

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