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Short-term study abroad and the development of intercultural maturity

Rose Opengart (HR Doctor, Chattanooga TN, USA)

Journal of International Education in Business

ISSN: 2046-469X

Article publication date: 5 November 2018

Issue publication date: 5 November 2018




The purpose of this study was to analyze the journal entries of study abroad students from a college of business that participated in four separate nine-day study abroad programs to identify whether the development of intercultural maturity is possible in a short-term study abroad program and if learning and development differ based on race/cultural background.


This study used content analysis of student journals. The journal entries of 33 students from four different short-term study abroad trips served as the data from which a qualitative content analysis using nvivo was conducted.


Development of intercultural maturity can, in fact, occur from a short-term (10-day) study abroad program. Student development progressed through the first two levels of the Intercultural Maturity Framework, with multicultural students progressing further. All students achieved first and second levels of the Developmental Trajectory of Intercultural Maturity on the King and Baxter Magolda (2005) framework in all three areas, including cognitive, intrapersonal and interpersonal.

Research limitations/implications

The author realizes the limitations of one form of data, the journal, and thus proposes for the future both pre-travel questions to encourage further critical thinking and learning and additional methods of obtaining data.

Practical implications

This study suggests that it might be advantageous to re-design the experience, whereby the students are guided with particular questions before or at the start of the study abroad program, to propel them forward in the process of critical reflection and development of intercultural maturity.


This study specifically applies the framework of King and Baxter Magolda’s (2005) Intercultural Maturity framework to examine the extent to which intercultural maturity of business students can be developed within the constraints of a short-term (nine-day) study abroad program. It also adds the dimension of comparing multicultural student development to non-multicultural student development.



Opengart, R. (2018), "Short-term study abroad and the development of intercultural maturity", Journal of International Education in Business, Vol. 11 No. 2, pp. 241-255.



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