There are many good reasons for studying MBA abroad. Work experience in a foreign country, changing geography, a step-up in salary and exposure to foreign cultures are all valid motives.
While these considerations are well-known to MBA applicants, ZoomInterviews would like to highlight an additional benefit of studying MBA abroad: living abroad increases creativity.
According to “Cultural borders and mental barriers: The relationship between living abroad and creativity” research by William W. Maddux from INSEAD and Adam D. Galinsky from Northwestern University, foreign living experience contains many critical elements necessary to help stimulate the creative process. 205 MBA students from a large US business school (105 Americans) participated in the research.
There are five big personal factors explaining creativity:
1) Extroversion (associated with sociability and the tendency to be gregarious);
2) Agreeableness (associated with cooperation, trust, and tolerance);
3) Emotional stability (associated with calmness, confidence, and lack of worry and insecurity);
4) Conscientiousness (associated with order, self-discipline, and consistency); and
5) Openness to experience (associated with creativity and curiosity).
While these factors are quite well researched and known, the impact of living abroad on creativity was not scientifically proved until recently.
According to the research, the longer participants spent living abroad (but not travelling abroad) the more likely they were to solve a specific problem in a creative way. The research also showed that an amount of time spent living abroad (but not travelling abroad) significantly helped to predict whether students could successfully conclude a negotiations process requiring considerably more than pure price aspects.
While living abroad is a significant and important factor for increased creativity, it also interesting to note how personality factors help to explain a successful outcome of the negotiations. As expected, it was shown that openness to experiences resulted in successful deals. In addition, extroversion was a significant factor, which makes sense given sharing information is crucial in reaching successful deals. Agreeableness, on the other hand, showed a significant negative relationship to deal making. This indicates that negotiators who care too much about getting along with other parties can lose sight of their own interests and miss creative negotiation opportunities.
The study showed that adoption is the very psychological element that explains why living abroad is associated with creativity. Because culture is such a pervasive force, impacting and shaping literally every aspect of one’s life, adapting oneself to a new culture — learning how to behave and think in a different way — may make individuals chronically aware of multiple perspectives and approaches when dealing with mundane and novel situations, and thus may be associated with increased creativity.
The study showed that one needs to live abroad for at least a couple of years, and not only to travel, in order to increase creativity. We believe that a MBA abroad is a good opportunity to explore foreign cultures, increase adoption and become a more creative person. However, we should caveat this and mention that studying MBA abroad can potentially make the recruiting process more difficult for students planning to continue their career in their home country immediately after MBA. Networking and interviewing from a distance may be very challenging. Creativity is only one of the many factors that should be taken into account when students are making the decision to study MBA abroad.
Leave the first comment ▶