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Are former “third‐culture kids” the ideal business expatriates?

Hon Lam (Hong Kong Baptist University, Kowloon, Hong Kong)
Jan Selmer (Hong Kong Baptist University, Kowloon, Hong Kong)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Article publication date: 1 March 2004



Third‐culture kids (TCKs) are adolescents who have lived at least one of their formative years in another country. This study compares survey data collected from British TCKs who were currently living in Hong Kong with those of their adolescent peers living in the UK and Hong Kong. The results unequivocally suggest that TCKs’ perception of being international and their characteristics are different than that of their adolescent peers in the host and home country. More than the other adolescents, TCKs indicated that international experience, parental and institutional education, a second language, neutrality, open‐mindedness and flexibility, attitudes towards other systems and cultures, respect for others, tolerance of others’ behaviour and views, all contributed to the perception of being international. Similarly, TCKs had distinctive characteristics in terms of stronger family relationships, enjoying travelling to foreign places, acceptance of foreign languages, acceptance of cultural differences, and future orientation. Implications for international firms of these fundamental findings are discussed in detail.



Lam, H. and Selmer, J. (2004), "Are former “third‐culture kids” the ideal business expatriates?", Career Development International, Vol. 9 No. 2, pp. 109-122.



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Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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