Beedie PhD candidate wins prestigious Academy of International Business award

Aug 15, 2016

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Beedie School of Business PhD candidate Ebru Ipek.

Beedie School of Business PhD candidate Ebru Ipek.

Beedie School of Business PhD candidate Ebru Ipek was the winner of the “That’s Interesting!” award at the prestigious 2016 Academy of International Business (AIB) conference.

The “That’s Interesting!” award is granted to research that pushes the boundaries of assumed knowledge in a field, attracts a reader’s attention, or makes an original argument.

Ipek’s paper, “Dancing between illusion and reality: Self-initiated expatriation of foreign-born bicultural nationals to their country of origin,” explores biculturalism in the context of international mobility and in the workplace. It investigates what motivates bicultural individuals – career-wise and personally – to return to their country of cultural origin, and how companies can better utilize these multi-dimensional employees.

“I pulled from sociology and psychology, as well as management theory, which really broadened the scope of the research, and I think that’s one of the reasons that made it a stand out paper,” says Ipek. “This award is testament to the support I receive here at Beedie. It is a wonderful award for me, for my school, and for my PhD supervisor, Mila Lazarova.”

The study highlights that bicultural self-initiated expatriates had different motivations for moving back to their country of cultural origin than other types of international mobile individuals. Many believed that they could get further ahead in their careers by bringing with them their education and bicultural skills, while looking for a sense of cultural belonging. However, many were met with unexpected challenges and gaps in cultural understanding.

“I’m really interested in understanding the experience of moving back to a country a person assumes they know, but that they fundamentally don’t, and the implication that has on their career,” says Ipek.

Born in Germany to Turkish parents and raised in Spain, Ipek’s research is inspired by her own multicultural experience.

“Biculturalism has many positive but also negative sides,” says Ipek. “Because international migration is increasing, organizations need to understand how to approach, maintain and train people with bicultural backgrounds and the benefits they can bring to the workplace.”

A PhD candidate in International Business at the Beedie School, Ipek was presented with the award at the AIB conference held in New Orleans from June 27-30.