Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Leadership Studies

Dissertation Committee

Lea A. Hubbard, PhD; Noriyuki Inoue, PhD Erika Nash, PhD


comparative case study, Doctoral leadership program, globalization, global leaders, higher edication, Intercultural competency, international educators, Leadership studies, short-term study abroad program, theoretical model, universities


As globalization increases, organizations are seeking individuals that have developed intercultural competency (ICC) and are prepared to lead for the 21st century. Although there are competing definitions among scholars as to what characteristics (ability, attitude, awareness, behaviors, knowledge, skills, or values) make up ICC (Ang & Van Dyne, 2008; Bennett & Bennett, 2004), a considerable body of research has found that studying abroad is one of the best ways for undergraduate students to develop at least one characteristic of ICC (Chieffo & Griffths, 2004; Deardorff, 2006; Sheridan, 2005). The question remains, however, whether or not study abroad programs can contribute to ICC development among graduate students, particularly those who are enrolled in a leadership studies program claiming to prepare global leaders. The purpose of this study was to investigate the experiences of 14 graduate students who participated in a short-term study abroad program at two different universities and to assess ICC development. The two universities that were selected are the only doctoral leadership programs in the United States of America to require an international experience. Using a comparative case study methodology, this study answered the following research questions: How do graduate students at two different institutions who are enrolled in a leadership studies program define their ICC as a result of a short-term study abroad course experience? What factors facilitated or constrained students to develop the seven characteristics of ICC? How do we account for the similarities and differences experienced by the participants both within and across the two university programs along the seven characteristics of ICC? Findings from the study validated the use of all seven characteristics of ICC, but importantly, also revealed additional key factors that were identified by graduate students as contributing significantly to their ICC. As a result of this study, a multi-layered theoretical model for understanding the development of ICC was created to assist international educators who are developing, planning, and assessing study abroad programs for graduate students. This new theoretical model will also help students understand their own ICC development and the characteristics needed to become more interculturally competent.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access


Leadership Studies