When does study abroad foster intercultural competence? A study in search of the conditions

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This paper concerns an on-going study aiming at finding evidence for the assumption that a study abroad episode with active intervention in the students engagement and reflection as part of intercultural learning will result in higher intercultural competence development scores than a study abroad without such intervention. The findings show that almost half of the students score substantially different on intercultural competence after their stay abroad than before. However, this applies to both intervention and non-intervention groups. Moreover, the changes are both positive and negative. Positive developmental scores relate to high scores on four specific competences: intercultural sensitivity, intercultural communication, building relationships, and managing uncertainty. Developmental scores also relate to the factors curiosity, care for cultural difference, time lived abroad, age and gender. Factor analysis of all 13 study variables supports the idea that an intrinsic desire for cross-cultural interaction and an ability to communicate sensitively moderate intercultural learning. Further study is required to test these factors as moderating factors, and how this relates to effective intervention.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)168
JournalEuropean journal of cross-cultural competence and management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 25 Apr 2017


  • intercultural competences
  • global citizenship
  • cultural differences
  • cross-cultural interaction
  • international higher education
  • intercultural sensitivity
  • intercultural communication


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