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Journal of International Business Studies

, Volume 48, Issue 1, pp 63–89 | Cite as

From crossing cultures to straddling them: An empirical examination of outcomes for multicultural employees

  • Stacey R FitzsimmonsEmail author
  • Yuan Liao
  • David C Thomas
Article

Abstract

International organizations, ranging from large MNCs to small born global firms, are increasingly recognizing that multicultural employees can help them operate across countries and across cultures. However, multiculturals – individuals who identify with and internalize more than one culture – are a diverse group, and organizations seeking to leverage their potential can benefit from a deeper understanding of the resources they possess and the challenges they face. We conducted three studies with a total of 1196 participants to test relationships between multicultural identity patterns and personal, social and task outcomes. Consistent results across studies indicated that individuals with more cultural identities (higher identity plurality) had more social capital and higher levels of intercultural skills than those with fewer cultural identities, while individuals who integrated their cultural identities (higher identity integration) experienced higher levels of personal well-being than those who separated them. Based on these results we advocate for two directions in future research on multicultural employees: moving beyond cognitive mechanisms alone, and examining monocultural and multicultural individuals simultaneously along the spectrum of identity plurality.

Keywords

multicultural bicultural multiple identities survey method multiple regression analysis social cognition social identity theory 

Résumé

Les organisations internationales, allant des grandes multinationales aux petites entreprises nées globales, reconnaissent de plus en plus que des employés multiculturels peuvent les aider à fonctionner au-delà des frontières entre pays et entre cultures. Cependant, les multiculturels – les personnes qui s’identifient à et qui incarnent plus d’une culture – forment un groupe disparate, et les organisations qui cherchent à tirer parti de leur potentiel peuvent bénéficier d’une meilleure compréhension des ressources qu’elles possèdent et des défis auxquels elles sont confrontées. Nous avons mené trois études avec un total de 1 196 participants pour tester les relations entre les schémas identitaires multiculturels et les résultats sur le plan personnel, sur le plan social et liés à la tâche. Les résultats convergents des différentes études montrent que des personnes avec plusieurs identités culturelles (pluralité d’identités plus élevée) ont un capital social et des compétences interculturelles plus élevés que celles qui ont moins d’identités culturelles, tandis que les personnes qui ont intégré leurs identités culturelles (intégration d’identités plus élevée) connaissent des niveaux de bien-être personnel plus élevés que ceux qui les séparent. Sur la base de ces résultats, nous préconisons deux futures directions de recherche sur les employés multiculturels: aller au-delà des seuls mécanismes cognitifs; étudier simultanément des personnes monoculturelles et multiculturelles sur le spectre de la pluralité d’identités.

Resumen

Las organizaciones internacionales, desde las grandes multinacionales hasta las pequeñas empresas globales, están reconociendo cada vez más que los empleados multiculturales pueden ayudarles a operar en diferentes países y culturas. Sin embargo, los multiculturales – individuos que se identifican e internalizan más de una cultura – son un grupo diverso, y las organizaciones en búsqueda de aprovechar su potencial pueden beneficiarse de un entendimiento profundo de los recursos que estos tienen y los retos que enfrentan. Realizamos tres estudios con un total de 1196 participantes para testear las relaciones entre los patrones de identidad multicultural y los resultados personales, sociales y de tareas. Consistentes resultados entre los estudios indican que los individuos con más identidades culturales (más pluralidad de identidad) tenían más capital social y mayores niveles de habilidades interculturales que aquellos con menos identidades culturales, mientras que los individuos que integraron sus identidades culturales (mayor integración de identidad) experimentaron mayores niveles de bienestar personal que aquellos que las separan. Con base en estos resultados promovemos dos direcciones para investigaciones futuras sobre los empleados multiculturales: ir más allá de mecanismos cognitivos solamente, y examinar individuos monoculturales y multiculturales simultáneamente a lo largo del espectro de la pluralidad de la identidad.

Resumo

Organizações internacionais, de grandes multinacionais até pequenas empresas nascidas globais, estão reconhecendo cada vez mais que funcionários multiculturais podem ajudá-los a operar em vários países e em diferentes culturas. No entanto, os multiculturais - indivíduos que se identificam e internalizam mais de uma cultura - são um grupo diverso, e as organizações que buscam alavancar seu potencial podem se beneficiar de uma mais profunda compreensão dos recursos que possuem e dos desafios que enfrentam. Realizamos três estudos com um total de 1196 participantes para testar relações entre padrões de identidade multicultural e resultados pessoais, sociais e de tarefa. Resultados consistentes nos estudos indicaram que indivíduos com mais identidades culturais (maior pluralidade de identidade) tinham mais capital social e níveis mais elevados de habilidades interculturais do que aqueles com menos identidades culturais, enquanto os indivíduos que integraram suas identidades culturais (maior integração de identidade) apresentaram níveis mais elevados de bem-estar pessoal do que aqueles que as separava. Com base nesses resultados, defendemos duas direções em futuras pesquisas sobre funcionários multiculturais: ir além dos mecanismos cognitivos somente e examinar simultaneamente os indivíduos monoculturais e multiculturais ao longo do espectro da pluralidade de identidades.

概要

国际组织,从大型跨国公司到小型天生全球公司,越来越多地意识到多元文化员工可以帮助它们跨国家和跨文化经营。然而,多元文化者 – 识别并内化多于一种文化的个人 – 是一个多样化的群体,寻求发挥其潜力的组织可以从对他们拥有的资源和他们面临的挑战的更深入的理解中受益。我们进行了三项研究,共有1196名参与者测试多元文化身份模式与个人,社会和任务结果之间的关系。这些研究取得的一致结果表明,具有较多文化身份(更高的身份多元化)的个体比具有较少文化身份的个体拥有更多的社会资本和更高水平的跨文化技能,而整合其文化身份(更高的身份整合)的个体与分离它们的个体相比体验更高水平的个人健康。基于这些结果,我们在未来关于多元文化员工的研究中倡导两个方向:超越单独认知机制,以及沿着身份多元化范围去同时检查单一文化和多元文化个体。.

Notes

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

We thank Eleanor Westney, Consulting Editor for this manuscript, and our three anonymous reviewers, for the hard work you put into helping us improve this manuscript. This was a rigorous and developmental review process; we really appreciate your thoughtfulness and your time!

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Copyright information

© Academy of International Business 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stacey R Fitzsimmons
    • 1
    Email author
  • Yuan Liao
    • 2
  • David C Thomas
    • 3
  1. 1.Peter B. Gustavson School of BusinessUniversity of VictoriaVictoriaCanada
  2. 2.IESE Business SchoolUniversity of NavarraBarcelonaSpain
  3. 3.Beedie School of BusinessSimon Fraser UniversityVancouverCanada

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