The theoretical basis for this study was the leader–member exchange (LMX) theory. Conceptually, the theory served as a framework through which the working exchange relationship between global leaders and their followers was viewed. Specifically, this study conceptualized the dynamic in which the LMX exchange consisted of ethnocentric investments from leaders, which resulted in a lack of acceptance as the return on that investment from followers. This study's literature identified overseas assignments as the most powerful strategy for developing competency among global leaders; hence, leaders seeking global competence desired this strategy. Furthermore, the literature described ethnocentrism as antagonistic with regard to competence among global leaders. In addition, ethnocentrism was described as intolerance for out-groups, which tended to lead to negative behaviors toward the out-group. Given these positions, this study assessed the possibility that foreign assignment (i.e., intergroup contact) experience would serve to mitigate the ethnocentrism expressed by leaders and thereby heighten the quality of the LMX by diminishing the lack of acceptance expressed by followers for their leaders. Accordingly, this study asked the following research question: How do global leaders describe their own ethnocentrism given their experience with foreign assignments? Global leaders described their experiences in terms of ethnocentric attitudes and cultural antipathy, which demonstrated their ethnocentrism. However, they also described their experiences in terms of cultural relativism and adaptive behaviors, which revealed they were culturally sensitive as well.
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