Cultural Intelligence and Creativity: The Experience of Trainees Abroad

Silvia Zanazzi


Cultural intelligence (CQ), defined as ‘an individual’s ability to be effective in situations characterized by cultural diversity’ (Ang, Van Dyne, 2008), can be developed and strengthened through experience, education and training. For a number of years, research on cultural intelligence has found important and recurring results for individuals with higher levels of CQ: better cross-cultural adjustment, improved job performance and enhanced personal well-being. More recent works have focused on the relation between cultural intelligence, creativity and innovation, opening new horizons for studies in the field.
In light of these recent developments, the paper explores the link between cultural intelligence and creativity in a specific context: a program for American college students doing their traineeship in Rome, Italy. The research is based on the analysis of field journals written by trainees. While reading and coding them, we looked for ‘proofs’ of divergent and critical thinking, assuming, based on a literature review, that they are important components of the creative process. Results show that divergent and critical thinking are consistently present in the journals written by trainees who have been positively assessed by their academic tutors and placement supervisors. Critical and divergent thinking, and subsequently creativity, are likely to be higher among individuals who demonstrate interest and openness to the new culture they encounter and are capable not only to describe it, but also to compare it with their own. This re-confirms the importance of cross cultural training to enhance the learning outcomes of a traineeship abroad.

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International Research in Higher Education  ISSN 2380-9183 (Print)  ISSN 2380-9205 (Online)

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