Dissertation: Too Much Support Can Limit the Creation of Multicultural Networks in Educational Institutions


In her doctoral dissertation, MBA Natalie S. Mikhaylov studied cultural knowledge creation and sharing processes and experiences among international business and management students.

​Mikhaylov’s dissertation in the discipline of Management and Organisation explores the cross-cultural and intercultural experiences of international and local students in four multicultural learning environments. It focuses on the holistic experiences of learners in novel cultural environments and particularly on cultural knowledge creation and sharing.

According to the study, people choose different kinds of strategies for gathering information in multicultural environments. The choice of a particular strategy depends on the situation, on the curiosity, motivation, and social capital of the learner, and on his or her ability to trust others. The choice of a strategy is also affected by the learner’s ability to build and maintain social relationships.
In her study, Mikhaylov identified four cultural learning strategies. Among these, the cosmopolitan strategy appears to be the most appropriate for longterm cultural learning and expertise development.

- The participants who employ it use continuous adaptation, regard change as normal, rely on creative thinking rather than rules, reinvent themselves and experiment with new identities, learn easily and use novel ways of thinking.

Higher educational institutions support cultural knowledge creation through encouragement

According to the study, learning environments play a secondary role: the environment mainly creates conditions that facilitate social networking. Excess support, for example through various training and support programmes, might actually discourage students and employees from creating their own multicultural networks and developing social capital.

- Higher educational institutions or programmes are likely to support the process of cultural knowledge creation by creating and nurturing environments conductive to social exchange, network development and social capital creation.  They can also excite cultural curiosity among the students, encourage cultural feedback, and facilitate mentorship for the students from the faculty members and culturally competent student peers.

Results offer support for recruitment and selection processes

There are numerous practical implications of the study that can be utilised by global organizations, managers, and business educators.

The enhanced understanding of how individuals develop and share cultural knowledge could support the recruitment and selection processes in international assignment and international student exchange programs, pre-departure preparation and training, multicultural team development, and approaches to cultural knowledge creation at the organisational, group and individual levels, Mikhaylov states.

In her study, Mikhaylov compared knowledge creation strategies in four management and business administration programmes in Finland, Czech Republic, and Ecuador. She interviewed a total of 95 persons originating from 30 countries.


Natalie S. Mikhaylov publicly defended her doctoral dissertation “New school ties: Social capital and cultural knowledge creation in multicultural learning environments” at the University of Turku on Thursday, 11 December 2014. The opponent was Professor Mikko Luoma from the University of Vaasa, and the custos was Professor Tuomo Peltonen from the University of Turku.

MBA Natalie S. Mikhaylov was born in 1966 in Leningrad and graduated from the secondary school there in 1983. She completed her Master of Business Administration degree in 1996 at Golden Gate University in the United States. Her dissertation is in the discipline of Management and Organisation.

Picture of the doctoral candidate: https://apps.utu.fi/media/vaittelijat/mikhaylov_natalie.JPG

The dissertation can be bought from the University of Turku webstore UTUshop, https://utushop.utu.fi/c/2-annales-universitatis-turkuensis/

The dissertation is available online: https://www.doria.fi/handle/10024/102235

Created 03.02.2015 | Updated 03.02.2015