Date of Award

Spring 2021

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Economics, PhD

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Rebecca J. Reichard

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Michelle C. Bligh

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Stephen W. Gilliland

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Allan W. Bird

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.


Global leadership, International experience, Leader development, Leader identity, Self-complexity


Globalization introduces new challenges related to increased levels of diversity and complexity that organizations cannot meet without capable global leaders. Such leaders are currently lacking, so a theory-based approach to global leader development is needed. As a critical intermediary outcome, global leader self-complexity enables competent global leadership performance and develops through identity construction during international experiences. This research aims to generate and test a theory of the development of global leader self-complexity. In Study 1, I gathered qualitative data through retrospectively interviewing 27 global leaders about identity-related changes following their international experiences. Using a grounded theory approach, I developed a theoretical model of global leader identity construction during international experiences, which I empirically tested using quantitative data in Study 2. Specifically, I tested the hypothesized relationships through structural equation modeling with cross-sectional survey data from a sample of 610 global leaders and found support for some of the theorized relationships. Findings from both studies indicate global leader identity construction during international experiences primarily occurs through interacting with locals and local culture over a sustained period, motivated by appreciation of cultural differences, and resulting in increased global leader self-complexity. These results advance understanding of the global leader self-complexity construct (i.e., what develops) and global leader development processes (i.e., how it develops). Additionally, the findings have practical implications for the design and delivery of global leader development initiatives, including the preparation of participating global leaders and how organizations can support them for maximal development.