Proven Leader: Paula Caligiuri


Paula Caligiuri
Distinguished Professor, International Business and Strategy
Founder and Director, Cultural Agility Leadership Lab
PhD The Pennsylvania State University

Caliguiri is the founder and director of the Cultural Agility Leadership Lab (CALL), D’Amore-McKim’s corporate-sponsored international volunteerism program in partnership with the National Peace Corps Association.

Her research examines how participants build cultural agility through these volunteerism experiences and has been cited in The New York Times, Fast Company, The Wall Street Journal, and on CNN.

She works extensively with leading organizations in the United States, Asia, Australia, and Europe on the process of selecting and developing culturally agile professionals. Over 60 global firms have revised their approach to selection and assessment of international assignees based on her research and recommendations.

Caligiuri’s future research will continue to inform CALL programming and examine the predictors of success for those who live and work internationally while identifying how global business leaders develop cross-cultural competencies through international experiences. 

Q: What are your areas of expertise/research focus?

Since the late 1980s, I have been studying what it takes to succeed globally—identifying the qualities that characterize those with cross-cultural competence and helping organizations build these competencies within their respective workforces. Most of my research career has been dedicated to examining the predictors of success for those who live and work internationally and examining how global business leaders develop cross-cultural competencies through international experiences.

Q: What industries are or could be impacted by your research?

All organizations, both public and private sector, with global reach.

Q: What research projects are you currently working on or planning?

My research is related to the Cultural Agility Leadership Lab (CALL) that I founded here at Northeastern University. This program is a skill-based corporate international volunteerism program, a collaboration between the D’Amore-McKim School of Business and the National Peace Corps Association (NPCA). Bringing together the Northeastern expertise in global experiential education and the international volunteerism expertise of the Peace Corps community through the NPCA, CALL is providing a turn-key solution for companies seeking global pro bono advisory opportunities for employees to deliver technical expertise to support non-governmental organizations’ development objectives. In brief, this program is an opportunity for employees from private sector companies to provide short-term technical assistance to underserved communities in developing countries. 

The two primary goals of the CALL are: 

1. To enhance the lives of those in underserved communities in developing countries by strengthening the capacity of local partner organizations (NGO, non-profit). 

2. To build cultural agility in business professionals through the application of their technical skills as advisors to local partner organizations in developing countries. As the implementation partner for their international volunteerism program, CALL helps their clients’ participating employees build their cultural agility as they learn to work in different countries and with people from different cultures. The result, confirmed by research, is that international volunteerism programs develop core cross-cultural competencies, while fostering employee engagement, and job satisfaction.

Q: What are some of your most seminal publications?

Caligiuri, P. M. (2000). The Big Five personality characteristics as predictors of expatriate success. Personnel Psychology, 53, 67-88.

This is one of my earlier studies, the foundation for understanding whether some inherent (and relatively immutable) predisposing characteristics enable people to succeed internationally.

Caligiuri, P., & Tarique, I. (2012). Dynamic cross-cultural competencies and global leadership effectiveness. Journal of World Business, 47, 612-622.

This study helped to advance understanding on how global experience can be developmental, the range of global opportunities that are developmental, who gains the most from developmental global opportunities, and what competencies business leaders gain through global opportunities.

Caligiuri, P., Mencin, A., & Jiang, K. (2013) Win-Win-Win: The Influence of Company-Sponsored Volunteerism Programs on Employees, NGOs, and Business Units. Personnel Psychology, 825-860.

This study focused on company sponsored volunteerism and how those programs can be used to build organizational level competencies and sustained value for stakeholders—namely, employee engagement, non-governmental organization performance, capability development for business units, and employees’ continuation of volunteerism. This paper was a top three finalist for the 2013 Best Article Award in Personnel Psychology.

Q: What are some awards that you have received?
  • Best Global Leadership Research published in 2013 Award (with Ibraiz Tarique), the Global Leadership Advancement Center, 2013.
  • Best Paper in International Human Resource Management Award (2nd place), (with Saba Colakoglu), Academy of Management, 2009.
  • Best Paper in International Human Resource Management (2nd place), (with Guenter Stahl, Cheihwee Chua, Jean-Luc Cerdin, and Mami Taniguchi), Academy of Management, 2010.