Adapting Abroad

Those who study in emerging economies might learn less about business.
Erik Van’t Klooster, a researcher at the Rotterdam School of Management in the Netherlands, has a message for students planning to study abroad: If you want to improve your managerial skills, you might want to avoid emerging economies. For his dissertation, Van’t Klooster surveyed more than 1,000 students, interns, and RSM alumni from around the world. He found that students who study in low-income or socialist countries might benefit less from their experiences than those who study elsewhere.

“Surprisingly, these students learned less about management competencies, both technical and social skills,” he says in a video on RSM Discovery, the school’s online research platform. “They had to put more effort into adapting to the local culture.” Students whose time abroad is too short, who stick too close to others from their home countries, or whose internships are a poor fit also don’t see as many benefits from their study abroad experiences.

Van’t Klooster hopes that this research will help program directors and faculty better design the international components of their MBA and master’s programs, as well as better advise students on which international work and study opportunities make the most sense for them.

Information about Van’t Klooster’s dissertation, “Travel to Learn: The Influence of Cultural Distance on Competence Development in Educational Travel,” is available at discovery.rsm.nl/articles/ detail/120-studying-abroad-benefitsemployability-but-not-universally.