Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Perceived Effects of Undergraduate International Experiences in Developing Leaders
by Rownd, Carol Z., Ph.D., Indiana Wesleyan University, 2017, 216; 10286628
Abstract (Summary)

To be successful and competent in today’s global economy requires leaders who are effective in situations characterized by diversity and flux. Eighteen leaders who participated in short-term study abroad (STSA) trip(s) as undergraduates at a midsize Midwestern university shared their perceptions on the ways in which their STSA experiences prepared them to lead today’s diverse workforce. Through in-depth qualitative interviews, participants revealed how their exposure to diversity during their STSA trips opened their minds and eyes to new perspectives and ways of thinking. Interviewees indicated that these STSA experiences prepared and developed them in such a way that in their current roles as leaders, they prefer to surround themselves with individuals from a variety of backgrounds and cultures. Collaborating with multicultural and diverse individuals and leveraging the strengths of every team member yields greater productivity and more creative results than what would have been achieved or accomplished from teams of like-minded individuals. Though the leaders said they may have eventually reached similar conclusions, they would not be where they are today if they had not had the STSA experience.

Additionally, the immersion in a foreign culture during their STSA trips equipped them with confidence, which has translated into their willingness to take more risks as leaders and to not shy away from uncertainty. Being in unfamiliar situations with people they did not know or understand created in them a desire to listen well and take time to understand others’ perspectives. The complexity they faced in a foreign culture forced them to develop critical thinking, problem-solving skills, flexibility, and adaptability in order to effectively navigate the challenges they encountered. As a result, those experiences and the learning they gained have equipped them to lead in today’s volatile marketplace. NVivo software was utilized for the analysis of data.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Ludden, LaVerne L.
Commitee: Barnes, Joanne, Johnson, Richard Boyd
School: Indiana Wesleyan University
Department: Organizational Leadership
School Location: United States -- Indiana
Source: DAI-A 78/10(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Higher education
Keywords: Cultural immersion, Leadership, Short-term study abroad
Publication Number: 10286628
ISBN: 978-1-369-82263-2
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