Original Research

The management of the international student experience in the South African context: The role of sociocultural adaptation and cultural intelligence

Thabang M. Mokhothu, Chris W. Callaghan
Acta Commercii | Vol 18, No 1 | a499 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ac.v18i1.499 | © 2018 Thabang M. Mokhothu, Chris W. Callaghan | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 02 April 2017 | Published: 29 January 2018

About the author(s)

Thabang M. Mokhothu, School of Economic and Business Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
Chris W. Callaghan, School of Economic and Business Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa


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Abstract

Orientation: Sociocultural adaptation and cultural intelligence theory predicts certain relationships between these two orientations and performance in culturally diverse contexts.
Research purpose: The aim of the research was to investigate the contribution of cultural intelligence to sociocultural adaptation and the role of cultural intelligence as a mediator of the relationship between sociocultural adaptation and academic performance of international students in the context of a large South African university.
Motivation of the study: The study was motivated by a lack of knowledge of the role of cultural intelligence in its contribution to sociocultural adaptation and academic performance of international students in the current South African academic context. This lack of knowledge was taken to be a problem for managers in the higher education context.
Research design, approach and method: A purposive sample of 263 international students from a large South African university was analysed using confirmatory factor analysis and multiple linear regression analysis.
Main findings: Unlike metacognitive, cognitive and behavioural cultural intelligences, only motivational cultural intelligence, together with sociocultural adaptation, was found to be significantly and positively associated with academic performance.
Practical and managerial implications: Given that motivational cultural intelligence reflects the interest and motivation of an individual to learn about and adapt to other cultures, university managers should seek to cultivate motivational cultural intelligence through university activities, as this orientation can be developed in sojourners.
Contribution or value-add: The results of this study contest broader predictions that all cultural intelligence orientations act equally to enable academic performance in this context.

Keywords

sociocultural adaptation; cultural intelligence; academic performance

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