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Unlocking Expatriates’ Job Creativity: The Role of Cultural Learning, and Metacognitive and Motivational Cultural Intelligence

  • Xiao-Jun Xu (a1) and Xiao-Ping Chen (a2)

In this article, we extend Amabile's componential theory of creativity to account for cross-cultural creativity by conceptualizing cultural learning as a crucial component in the creativity relevant process. We hypothesize a significant positive relationship between cultural learning and expatriates’ cross-cultural job creativity, and that this relationship will be enhanced by domain learning and the cultural distance between the host and home countries. Moreover, we propose that expatriates with higher metacognitive and motivational cultural intelligence will engage in greater cultural learning, which in turn will be related to job creativity. Data from 219 expatriate-supervisor dyads of 36 Chinese multinational companies reveal that metacognitive CQ and motivational CQ are indeed positive antecedents to cultural learning, which in turn positively relates to cross-cultural job creativity, especially for high domain learning expatriates who work in a foreign culture not vastly different from home. Our findings make significant contributions to the existing literature on creativity and provide nuanced understanding of the relationship between cultural intelligence, cultural learning and cross-cultural job creativity. Our findings also have important implications for expatriate management.

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Corresponding author: Xiao-Jun Xu (
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