A paradox theory lens for developing cross-cultural competence: mindset, behavior, and work design

Dan Wang, Ross Donohue, Feng Guo, Mingjun Yang, Tuan Luu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Cross-cultural competence (CCC) is one of the most effective means for expatriates to overcome cultural tensions and liabilities of foreignness on international assignments. Drawing upon a paradox theory lens, this study delineates a moderated mediation model that unpacks the mindset, behavior, and work design features which empower the development of CCC in the context of expatriate assignment. To test this model, we obtained survey data from 244 expatriate managers, matched with survey responses from 244 local colleagues, nominated by each expatriate. Structural equation modelling revealed that both holistic thinking and attributional complexity predict CCC via paradoxical behavior. In addition, opportunity-enhancing work design positively moderated the indirect relationship between attributional complexity and CCC. Such findings highlight the importance of embracing a paradox mindset and paradoxical behaviors for competency building on international tasks. The practical implications for expatriate selection, training, and continuous development are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number114645
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Business Research
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2024


  • Attributional complexity
  • Cross-cultural competence
  • Holistic thinking
  • Paradox theory
  • Paradoxical behavior
  • Work design

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