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Multicultural experience enhances creativity: the when and how

Author: Maddux, William W. ; Galinsky, Adam D. ; Chiu, Chi-Yue ; Leung, Angela K.-Y.INSEAD Area: Organisational BehaviourIn: American Psychologist, vol. 63, no. 3, April 2008 Language: EnglishDescription: p. 169-181.Type of document: INSEAD ArticleNote: Please ask us for this itemAbstract: Many practices aimed to cultivate multicultural competence in educational and organizational settings (e.g., exchange programs, diversity education in college, diversity management at work)assume that multicultural experience fosters creativity. In line with this assumption, our research is the first to empirically demonstrate exposure to multiple cultures in and of itself can enhance creativity. Overall, we have found that extensiveness of multicultural experiences is positively related to both creative performance (insight learning, remote association, and idea generation) and creativity supporting cognitive processes (retrieval of unconventional knowledge, recruitment of ideas from unfamiliar cultures for creative idea expansion). Furthermore, our studies show that the serendipitous creative benefits resulting from multicultural experiences may depend on the extent to which individuals open themselves to foreign cultures, and that creativity is facilitated in contexts that deemphasize the need for firm answers or existential concerns. We discuss our findings’ implications for promoting creativity in increasingly global learning and work environments
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Many practices aimed to cultivate multicultural competence in educational and organizational settings (e.g., exchange programs, diversity education in college, diversity management at work)assume that multicultural experience fosters creativity. In line with this assumption, our research is the first to empirically demonstrate exposure to multiple cultures in and of itself can enhance creativity. Overall, we have found that extensiveness of multicultural experiences is positively related to both creative performance (insight learning, remote association, and idea generation) and creativity supporting cognitive processes (retrieval of unconventional knowledge, recruitment of ideas from unfamiliar cultures for creative idea expansion). Furthermore, our studies show that the serendipitous creative benefits resulting from multicultural experiences may depend on the extent to which individuals open themselves to foreign cultures, and that creativity is facilitated in contexts that deemphasize the need for firm answers or existential concerns. We discuss our findings’ implications for promoting creativity in increasingly global learning and work environments

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