Wednesday 19 February 2014

Adult Third Culture Kids: Potential Global Leaders with Cross-Cultural Competence?

Time's flying and it is high time for me to write a new post. I once again read some interesting articles which I really feel I need to share with you. The first is a disseratation "Adult Third Culture Kids: Potential Global Leaders with Global Mindset" by Patricia Stokke (2013).

"The ability to bridge differences is an example of how ATCKs may integrate their international experience preparing them to work in global organisations." The ATCKs seem to be good "bridge builders". Patricia says that future research needs to be done to bring ATCKs and business together so that not only ATCKs recognize their global skills and abilities, but that recruiters, HR professionals, and hiring managers appreciate the potential value these individuals can offer organisations.

I came across another interesting article in the Journal of Global Mobiliy. This journal is new by the way and currently the articles in the first 3 issues are available for free (until the end of March 2014). In the article "Antecedents of dynamic cross-cultural competence in adult third culture kids (ATCKs)" by Tarique and Weisbord they look at what the predictors are of cross-cultural competence. They found that there are 5 predictors of cross-cultural competence in ATCKs:

  1. Varienty of early international exeperience (number of counries lived in) 
  2. Language diversity 
  3. The number of languages they speak
  4. Family diversity (the number of different ethnicities in their family's background)
  5. The personality trait of openess to experience (to which extend are individuals original, innovative and willing to take risks)
By the way dynamic cross-cultural competence includes knowledge, skills and attributes that are aquired through learning experiences. So it seems that  experiencing international travel during childhood and growing up abroad can provide competencies today's employers seek. This is good news for ATCKs. I feel I already knew this and you probably did too but I like it when research confirms these kind of things.

I like the article on DenizenMag "Making the Most of Your TCK Experience When Applying For a Job". As a TCKs you have adapted to new environments, so you will probably adapt quickly to your new working environment. Probably you have learnt to be flexible and adjust. You may be a "bridge builder". You may be have cross-cultural and multilingual communication skills. Recognize your own global skills and abilities! Make sure you mention them in your résumé. This is one of the things Ruth van Reken said too when she spoke at EuroTCK in Germany in 2013.

So it looks like we have cross-cultural competence, we are "bridge builders", we are the people empoyers are seeking. Will we be the global leaders of tomorrow? What do you think? Looking forward to your comments.

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Photo thanks to NPClark2k Morgue File


  1. Well done on posting again! I know many blogs dissolve after the initial excitement has worn off and do hope that you will find continued inspiration for yours. As far as the content is concerned I'm quite sure that if you look into the background of many great leaders and innovators you will already find ATCKs running stuff. Therefore I would suggest "global leaders of today and tomorrow".... Go TCKs!

    1. Thanks for your encouraging words sis! Would be quite an interesting study....Blog turned 3 this years in June :)

  2. Thank you for this brilliant post! I agree with PleuntjeenStephen: there are already leaders and innovators who are ATCKs. ATCKs exist since such a long time! It's great that this kind of research points out the unique potential of ATCKs or TCKs, but I think these studies that I did read too, lack of is the backwards perspective. They "predict" the cross-cultural competence of ATCKs and TCKs, but I missed an overview of those who are already in leaders' positions today. Thank you for making me realize this by reading your post.

    1. Thanks Ute for stopping by and leaving a comment. Yes there is still lots of research that can be done. Might be doing some myself in the near future ;) Janneke