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The impact of multicultural experience in the development of socio‐cultural adaptation for international business students

Peter Townsend (Monash University, Churchill, Australia)
Caroline Wan (Monash University, Churchill, Australia)

International Journal of Educational Management

ISSN: 0951-354X

Article publication date: 3 April 2007



This research sets out to assess the relevance and impact of interpersonal contact, in the form of multicultural experience, in the development of socio‐cultural adaptation for international students studying in their new country. The original contribution of this research is the application of a statistical methodology to this subject area in the Asia Pacific Basin.


The data analysis consisted of quantitative, longitudinal and cross‐sectional studies, from a sample consisting of students studying an international business degree, in the categories of living in national home culture or out of national home culture. Longitudinally, 88 students were sampled at the beginning of the semester and four months later. The cross‐sectional study of 380 students, over three years, was for students in these same categories, on the Australian and Malaysian campuses.


The analysis identified that socio‐cultural adaptation statistically demonstrates an initial negative relationship with multicultural experience, but develops beyond this period with a positive increase and relationship at the end of three years. There were no significant differences for socio‐cultural adaptation and multicultural experience between students studying in or out of their national home culture.

Research limitations/implications

The results statistically demonstrated a continuous increase of multicultural experience but also a U curve shape of socio‐cultural adaptation, thereby confirming previous qualitative research on the culture shock phenomena.


This is the only statistical research to date on the U curve phenomena in the Asia Pacific Basin.



Townsend, P. and Wan, C. (2007), "The impact of multicultural experience in the development of socio‐cultural adaptation for international business students", International Journal of Educational Management, Vol. 21 No. 3, pp. 194-212.



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