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Kellogg School of Management Expert Finds Multicultural Experience Enhances Creativity

EVANSTON, Ill., May 13 /PRNewswire/ -- Businesses dependent on creative thinking can add a new requirement for job applicants: Must have traveled abroad. According to new research published by Adam Galinsky, the Morris and Alice Kaplan Professor of Ethics and Decision in Management the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, extensive multicultural experience, such as living in another country, can enhance creative performance.

"Multicultural Experience Enhances Creativity," published in the April 2008 edition of American Psychologist, documents the first research to empirically demonstrate that exposure to multiple cultures in and of itself can enhance creativity. Galinsky's research collaborators and co-authors are Angela Ka-yee Leung, assistant professor of psychology at the Singapore Management University; William W. Maddux, assistant professor of organizational behavior at INSEAD; and Chi-yue Chiu, professor of psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

To determine whether type and amount of multicultural experiences boosted creativity, the authors conducted more than a half dozen studies involving in excess of 1,000 participants, including undergraduates, MBA students, and executives representing more than 40 different nationalities. Methodologies used included everything from correlational studies to experiments and involved a variety of creativity tasks.

Overall, the authors found that extensiveness of multicultural experiences was positively related to both creative performance (insight learning, remote association, and idea generation) and creativity-supporting cognitive processes (retrieval of unconventional knowledge and recruitment of ideas from unfamiliar cultures for creative idea expansion). Furthermore, their studies showed that the relationship between multicultural experience and creativity is most likely to emerge when individuals have lived in or been deeply immersed in foreign cultures as opposed to cursory foreign travel, and when creativity is assessed in contexts that deemphasize the need for firm answers or existential concerns.

"Multicultural experience enhances creative outcomes and processes by facilitating problem solving insights, the generation of novel ideas and the adaptation of ideas from foreign cultures," says Galinsky. "The results of these studies from researchers on three continents are particularly relevant given the current debate on globalization and the effect it may have on learning and work environments."

To schedule an interview or learn more about Galinsky's research, contact Evan Miller at or by telephone at 312-861-5226 (office) or 847-373-9974 (mobile).

For more information about the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, visit


Meg Washburn Evan Miller

Kellogg School of Management Manning Selvage & Lee

Office: 847-491-5446 Office: 312-861-5226

Mobile: 773-848-4461 Mobile: 847-373-9974

SOURCE Kellogg School of Management
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