Department of Management

Adult third culture kids: adjustment and personal development

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  • Jakob Lauring
  • David Guttormsen, BI Norwegian Business School, Norway
  • Yvonne McNulty, Singapore University of Social Sciences
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.
Original languageEnglish
Journal Cross Cultural & Strategic Management
Pages (from-to)387-400
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 2019

    Research areas

  • Adjustment, Adult third culture kids, Development, Expatriate

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