Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Penny Bryan

Second Advisor

Whitney McIntyre-Miller

Third Advisor

Kris de Pedro

Fourth Advisor

Eva Anneli Adams


This in-country grounded theory study examined the lived experiences of 24 Chinese returnees who completed advanced degrees in the United States. The study found that the four types of organizations in mainland China determine the social context of the application of Western education of the Chinese returnees. Returnees working in multinational corporations apply their Western education more than the returnees working in the other types of organizations. Themes that revolved around the international educational experiences of the Chinese students, including the development of cultural intelligence and new understanding of the ‘other’, and their realization of the differences between their home and host cultures, are included in the findings of this study. The relationship between these themes has led to the construction of a new concept concerning their self-cultivation that, in the Chinese perspective, is integral to Chinese leadership. This study introduces the concept of the bridger as a role that some Chinese returnees take on within their Chinese organizations and the third space that bridgers occupy.