I will present several studies from an on going line of research demonstrating the beneficial effects of living abroad and other types of transformational cross-cultural experiences. Across a number of studies, my colleagues and I find that individuals who have lived abroad and adapted themselves to their host countries are more creative than those who have not had such experiences.
Subsequent work has deconstructed some of the critical elements of this phenomenon. For example, we find that living abroad transforms individuals’ overall sense of self, and that creative benefits are best realized when individuals incorporate both home and host cultures into their personal identities, leading to enhanced integrative complexity and thus more creativity. These effects also extend to professional domains as well: Bicultural entrepreneurs and organizational leaders with significant multicultural experiences show enhanced creativity and better professional performance than comparable leaders without such experiences. Overall, this work demonstrates how and why transformational cross-cultural experiences lead to enhanced creativity, professional performance, and psychological functioning.