Adult third culture kids: adjustment and personal development

Jakob Lauring (Department of Management, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark)
David S. A. Guttormsen (BI Norwegian Business School, Oslo, Norway)
Yvonne Maria McNulty (Singapore University of Social Sciences, Singapore)

Cross Cultural & Strategic Management

ISSN: 2059-5794

Publication date: 22 October 2019



The purpose of this paper is to explore how interaction adjustment influences personal development for expatriates and to examine whether the effect differs between adults that have, and have not, lived abroad during their adolescence.


The authors use survey responses from 424 business expatriates in Asia distinguishing between adult third culture kids (ATCKs) that have lived abroad during their adolescence and adult mono-culture kids (AMCKs) who have not.


The results show that while interaction adjustment generally improves the experience of personal development, this effect is stronger for ATCKs. AMCKs will experience personal development almost independently of their interaction adjustment with host nationals solely due to the novelty of the international experience. For ATCKs, just being in the new country is not enough for them to feel they have developed personally; they need to engage more deeply with the local population to achieve this.


The authors still know very little about ATCKs and about how expatriation during their adulthood develops them personally, given they have already had international experiences at a young age.



Lauring, J., Guttormsen, D. and McNulty, Y. (2019), "Adult third culture kids: adjustment and personal development", Cross Cultural & Strategic Management, Vol. 26 No. 3, pp. 387-400.

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