Developing leaders' strategic thinking through global work experience: the moderating role of cultural distance

J Appl Psychol. 2014 Sep;99(5):867-82. doi: 10.1037/a0036628. Epub 2014 Apr 28.


To respond to the challenge of how organizations can develop leaders who can think strategically, we investigate the relation of leaders' global work experiences--that is, those experiences that require the role incumbent to transcend national boundaries--to their competency in strategic thinking. We further examine whether leaders' exposure to a country whose culture is quite distinct from the culture of their own country (i.e., one that is culturally distant) moderates these relationships. Our analyses of 231 upper level leaders reveals that the time they have spent in global work experiences positively relates to their strategic thinking competency, particularly for leaders who have had exposure to a more culturally distant country. We discuss these findings in light of the research on international work experiences and leader development.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cultural Competency*
  • Employment*
  • Humans
  • Internationality
  • Leadership*
  • Professional Competence*
  • Staff Development*
  • Thinking*