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Another JGM BitBlog: Do early international experiences boost the career capital of ATCKs?

  • 1.  Another JGM BitBlog: Do early international experiences boost the career capital of ATCKs?

    Posted 05-20-2024 12:37

    The JGM BitBlog: Do early international experiences boost the career capital of ATCKs?

    Mireka Caselius, School of Management, University of Vaasa, Vaasa, Finland

    Vesa Suutari, School of Management, University of Vaasa, Vaasa, Finland

    The global mobility literature has centered on expatriate experience, but scholars have lately also become interested in the experiences of expatriate partners and children. Children who follow their parent(s) abroad are called third culture kids (TCKs), and when they come of age, adult third culture kids (ATCKs). There are a significant number of adults who have grown up in expatriate families abroad, but research is still limited among ATCKs. The study referenced below explores the long-term impacts of international exposure during the early life stages on the career capital (CC) of ATCKs. The adoption of the CC framework is unique in this context, although the framework has been applied previously to analyze the developmental experiences of both expatriates and their partners.

    The study relies on interviews with 34 Finnish ATCKs and shows how early international experience helped them forge CC that they were subsequently able to utilize. Overall, the respondents viewed their childhood years spent abroad as positively developmental and as having long-term impacts on their CC. Earlier research has highlighted the challenges associated with the TCK experience; however, the present study reveals that ATCKs see the positive developmental side of the experience to outweigh any negative aspects. The ATCKs interviews also acknowledged that their international experience had given them an international mindset that later impacted their career preferences. They also considered that their internationally developed CC differentiated them from other applicants in the job market and that they had benefited significantly from their CC even in the early phases of their careers. Interestingly, there are many similarities between the CC developed by TCKs and that of expatriates and their partners. The ATCKs also considered their early international experience emboldened them to accept more challenging tasks in their first jobs than they might have in the absence of such experience. Such early work opportunities boosted their later careers.

    An outcome of such developmental experiences is that ATCKs may be ideal candidates for international positions even during their early career stages. The ATCKs' cultural intelligence and global networks might also be valuable to small and medium-sized companies about to expand their operations abroad. The ATCKs might also be able to recognize new business opportunities due to understanding customer needs in different regions. However, we still need more research on the long-term impacts of early-life international experiences on the future careers and career success of ATCKs.

    To read the full article, please see the Journal of Global Mobility publication:

    Caselius, M. and Suutari, V. (2023), "The global chameleons: the impact of early life international exposure on the career capital of adult third culture kids", Journal of Global Mobility, Vol. 11 No. 4, pp. 530-553. https://doi.org/10.1108/JGM-03-2023-0021" target="_blank" rel="noopener">https://doi.org/10.1108/JGM-03-2023-0021

    Professor Jan Selmer, Ph.D.
    Founding Editor-in-Chief
    Journal of Global Mobility (JGM)
    Department of Management, Aarhus University
    E-mail: selmer@mgmt.au.dk
    Twitter: @JanSelmer_JGM