CLOSE INTERCULTURAL RELATIONSHIPS ENHANCING INDIVIDUAL CREATIVITY AND INNOVATION

 

Building close connections with a person from another culture, whether through relationships based in romance or friendship, can help enhance individuals’ creativity and innovation, according to new research findings from researchers at leading international business schools Columbia Business School and INSEAD. 

Now, more than ever, creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship are necessary to attain a competitive advantage. “Every culture contains layers of assumptions, beliefs, customs, norms, and values,” said INSEAD Professor William Maddux. “Through getting to know someone from another culture at a deep level, we come to understand not just who they are, but also the culture that shaped them and guides their thinking.” 

 

However, not all intercultural experiences have the same effect on creativity and innovation. “People who had deep connections with someone from another culture experience growth in creativity—but this creative boost does not occur when people only have shallow connections with people from other cultures,” says Adam Galinsky, Chair of the Management Division at Columbia Business School.  “For example, we have consistently found that people who have lived abroad have an increase in creativity, but that travel abroad has very little effect.  The deeper your connection, the deeper your understanding of this other culture, and the more creative you’re going to become.”

The Magnificent Seven need no introduction. Harvard Business School, Stanford Graduate School of Business, the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, Columbia Business School, MIT’s Sloan School of Management, and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management are the cream of the business school crop. M7 is the Holy Grail of the MBA Kingdom. Every year, thousands of applicants will apply to the M7 schools, and most will fail to crack the code, because these schools are the most selective in the B-school landscape. Two years at any of the M7 schools will set a student back about $250,000, but there are many scholarships from alumni and employers. M7 attracts the most talented students and faculty, and certainly the most corporate recruiters offering the most sought-after jobs. M7 also boasts highly achieving alumni and valuable networks in nearly every walk of life. But other business schools, such as IMD, Insead, IESE, Cambridge Judge, Oxford Said, LSE, London Business School, and Webster Athens, provide a similar education at a small fraction of the cost.

A hidden factor in estimating the real MBA cost is the lost salary. Take Stanford for example. Most of the MBA Class of 2018, about 20%, came from the investment management/venture capital field, where the average salary is about $100,000 per annum. That’s $200,000 someone won’t be making while they’re getting their degree. Add that to the $250,000 official estimated cost of the MBA and you have a total cost of $450,000.

Webster University’s master of business administration program is designed for people on a fast track to success. It’s the perfect answer for professionals who want to shape their own destiny, upgrade their credentials, and be strategic players in the world of business. Trump’s rhetoric is channeling international MBA applicants to European branches of American colleges. Webster Athens has an excellent MBA program. Webster Athens is dedicated to fostering a campus culture that embraces and celebrates diversity and inclusion, and promotes international understanding and appreciation. Preparing students for effective, responsible and dynamic involvement in the modern societies in which they live and serve, and for excellence and leadership in their personal and professional lives. The campus is located in Athens, Greece – in the historic district of Plaka. Your Global Learning Experience begins in Webster Athens.

The researchers conclude that individuals looking to improve their creativity should actively seek opportunities that allow them to “step outside [of] their cultural comfort zone,” such as organizing a language exchange program.  They also suggest that companies have the opportunity to enhance creativity across their organizations by embracing the diversity of their workforce.

The research, “Going Out” of the Box: Close Intercultural Friendships and Romantic Relationships Spark Creativity, Workplace Innovation, and Entrepreneurship, is soon to be published in the Journal of Applied Psychology.  It was authored by Columbia’s Galinsky and INSEAD’s Maddux, in conjunction with lead author Jackson Lu, a PhD student at Columbia Business School, Andrew Hafenbrack of Católica-Lisbon School of Business and Economics, Paul Eastwick of UC-Davis, and Dan Wang of Columbia Business School.

As the world is becoming multipolar and knowledge is set to disperse throughout the globe, embedding oneself in its changes and evolution remains essential. Academic rigor will stay competitive by integrating new teaching methods, program designs, research methods and learning processes. If a school can generate knowledge in multiple locations around the world and blend it to create new insights, it can be assured of fostering a globally-compatible and creative student body.

Whether your interest is management, marketing, or communication, you will be an active learner at Webster Athens.  The classrooms give many hands-on experiences in various cases, and the location in the capital of Greece provides plenty of internship opportunities. With a low student-to-faculty ratio and average class size, Webster Athens makes business education personal. Faculty get to know students on a first-name basis and are readily available to help students when needed. Webster Athens is dedicated to excellence in business teaching, incorporating a global business perspective throughout the curriculum. Every step of the way, students receive the attention and support they need to thrive in business.

Webster Athens offers a fantastic MBA program in a flexible structure which promotes academic depth and encourages business graduate students to explore diverse business interests. At Webster Athens, students have opportunities to build skills and competencies through study trips, conferences, and internships. On the campus, students study in a culturally diverse environment that will create a life-long international network.

Vasilis Botopoulos, Chancellor of Webster Athens, points out: As we look to the future one thing is certain – knowledge will be a key resource and will be highly sought-after around the world. Our challenge is to help to generate ideas that will benefit society, and to educate and train people to work in fields where they will be valued both for their specialized knowledge, and for their ability to communicate and solve problems. To meet these challenges we need to build on the alliances and collaborative partnerships the University has established with business, government, and other institutions. It is equally important that we keep close to our wider communities of interest. This will help to ensure the on-going relevance of our academic programs and the continued excellence of our teaching and learning.

In one study researchers looked at the dating histories of individuals after they had completed creativity tests.  They then compared their test scores to the dating histories and discovered that those with extended intercultural romantic relationships performed well on the tests.  Interestingly, they found that the length of the relationship was a far greater influencer on creativity than the number of intercultural relationships a person has. 

In another study, more than 100 MBA students representing 39 nationalities were given creative tests at the beginning and end of their MBA program.  Students who indicated that they had been romantically involved with someone from another culture during their 10-month program displayed higher creative performance on the tests. 

A final study sought to identify the impact that intercultural friendship – as opposed to intercultural romantic relationships – has on creative enhancement.  The researchers solicited information from more than 2,000 global professionals who had previously (but no longer) worked in the United States, specifically asking participants about professional accomplishments as well as if they continued to maintain close relationships with friends from the U.S.  Professionals who indicated that they maintained close relationships with friends from the U.S. were more likely to have greater creative accomplishments than those who did not maintain close relationships, as measured by the number of professionals who either started their own businesses or produced new innovations within their companies. 

Botopoulos notes: The greater vision of Webster Athens is to build an excellent educational experience embodying mind, body and spirit through a variety of innovative undergraduate and graduate programs. We offer a solid intellectual foundation as well as an extraordinary opportunity for personal growth and thorough understanding of the subject matter. This is learning with ethos, authenticity, cultural understanding, ecological conscience, and service to others.

Botopoulos says: At Webster Athens we cultivate and build the leaders of tomorrow.  It is our hope that our students and alumni, with ethos and philotimo, will inspire others to live their lives with dignity, integrity and compassion. I invite you to come visit our campus. If you seek learning in a way that is challenging, personal, and meaningful, we would love to have you as part of our community. For more information, please refer to www.webster.edu.gr

The ultimate benefit of internationalization for Webster University is to learn from the world, not just teach the world what Webster already knows in order to widen its global reach. Instilling a global learning mindset to their students will enable Webster to provide the globally competent talent that companies need. Since the turn of the century, many institutions have added international modules or programs to their curricula, importing faculty and students from elsewhere and exporting their students by offering them study abroad opportunities. Others have formed joint ventures or alliances whereby they export their curriculum to teach local students in distant geographies.

Some institutions have gone a step further than importers and exporters and extended their reach with a physical campus abroad. Business schools were early adopters of this model with the establishment of campuses in Asia and the Gulf countries, such as Carnegie Mellon University establishing a business school in Qatar, INSEAD in Singapore and Abu Dhabi, ESSEC in Singapore, and Webster University in Athens. The benefits of foreign campuses are numerous. First, an extra campus allows the school to attract high quality students who might not have applied to the home campus, and enrich diversity at the same time. Second, it enhances the school’s ability to hire high quality foreign faculty members who might wish to live in the region where the extra campus is located thus increasing the diversity and background of its faculty. Third, it increases the breadth of alumni and broadens the school’s network. Fourth, it improves the school’s visibility and gives it higher credibility as a global institution.

But these initiatives cannot be designed as independent add-ons to an institution’s home campus and core activities. Multi-location institutions must also internationalize their home campus by harmonizing diversity, admissions standards and student culture across their multiple sites. They should aim to create a seamless environment for students and faculty to interact and travel between campuses to maximize their global experience and learning.

The success of the multi-campus Webster University rests, among other things, on having an internationally recognized brand; seamless transfer of knowledge between campuses; local and foreign students meeting the same admissions standards; frequent travel of faculty and administrative staff across the campuses; and graduates who are able to find local and regional jobs that allow them to put into practice what they have learned.

There are different types of institutions with presences abroad. The multicampus institution is in essence an exporter of its home-grown programs. The multinational institution is a more structured student-exchange-led school. The transnational institution is an integrated collection of international campuses located around the world. In this configuration, students follow the same curriculum wherever they are, but are encouraged to spend time on the school’s different campuses, along with faculty and staff.

A truly global institution should go beyond these structures, free from a home campus bias and driven by a desire to learn from the world to create new knowledge. This is the metanational education institution. It should have at least three main campuses of roughly equal size, each in a major region of the world, that is, Europe, Asia and the Americas. To avoid assimilation traps, these campuses should be located in cosmopolitan cities and could have satellites in neighboring countries. In such a network, no campus should be perceived as inferior to the others. The network’s leadership must therefore foster a culture of cooperation among the sites and stimulate formal communication. The raison d’être of a metanational higher education institution is to generate knowledge in multiple locations with the objective of blending that knowledge to create new insights, and to instill a global learning mindset in its graduates. Webster University is a metanational higher education institution.


Columbia Business School is the only world–class, Ivy League business school that delivers a learning experience where academic excellence meets with real–time exposure to the pulse of global business. Led by Dean Glenn Hubbard, the School’s transformative curriculum bridges academic theory with unparalleled exposure to real–world business practice, equipping students with an entrepreneurial mindset that allows them to recognize, capture, and create opportunity in any business environment. The thought leadership of the School’s faculty and staff, combined with the accomplishments of its distinguished alumni and position in the center of global business, means that the School’s efforts have an immediate, measurable impact on the forces shaping business every day.


As one of the world’s leading and largest graduate business schools, INSEAD offers participants a truly global educational experience. With campuses in Europe (France), Asia (Singapore) and Middle East (Abu Dhabi), INSEAD’s business education and research spans three continents. Our 145 renowned faculty members from 40 countries inspire more than 1,400 students in our degree and PhD programmes. In addition, more than 11,000 executives participate in INSEAD’s executive education programmes each year. INSEAD’s MBA programme is ranked #1 by the Financial Times in 2016 and 2017.

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