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The meaning of international experience for the development of cultural intelligence: A review and critique

Dana L. Ott (Department of Management, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand)
Marina Iskhakova (Research School of Economics, Australian National University, Acton, Australia)

Critical Perspectives on International Business

ISSN: 1742-2043

Article publication date: 17 September 2019

Issue publication date: 17 September 2019




This paper aims to contribute to international business research by critically analyzing and evaluating the use of the “international experience” (IE) construct within the specific context of developing cultural intelligence (CQ).


Based on 30 studies selected through a systematic literature review, the IE construct is critically analyzed and evaluated with respect to the terminology, definitions, conceptualizations and measurements used.


Findings indicate that the existing body of knowledge on the construct of IE is fragmented, uses inconsistent terminology, does not uniformly rely on any underlying conceptual frameworks and uses a variety of measures for investigating IE. Additionally, scholars have largely relied on quantitative measures of IE to explain the development of CQ, despite theoretical arguments specifying conditions and circumstances that must occur for learning and development to take place.

Research limitations/implications

To move forward with using the IE construct, the authors emphasize the critical need for scholars to pay greater attention to and explicate how they define, conceptualize and measure it. Based on the identified issues, recommendations to improve future research are provided.


Although IE is frequently assumed to influence the development of CQ, contrary to conventional wisdom and some theoretical arguments, research evidence has demonstrated that the impact of IE on CQ is suggestive rather than conclusive. To understand why this may be the case, the use of the IE construct within previous research is critically analyzed and evaluated.



Ott, D.L. and Iskhakova, M. (2019), "The meaning of international experience for the development of cultural intelligence: A review and critique", Critical Perspectives on International Business, Vol. 15 No. 4, pp. 390-407.



Emerald Publishing Limited

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