Boundary brokering for cross-cultural professional learning in international school contexts

Chun LAI, Zhen Jennie LI, Yang GONG

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7 Citations (Scopus)


Although much research has been done on the internalisation of education, issues related to intercultural professional learning, especially in the school education context, remain underexplored. This study examines the potential of boundary brokering in facilitating cross‐cultural professional learning in an international school context. This article reports the qualitative findings from an interview study with seven non‐ethnic Chinese language teachers who resided at the borders of Chinese and western communities of practice on their boundary brokering experience in bridging the different norms of being and practice in the Chinese teacher community and the western communities in international schools in Asia. Interview responses from the participants show that the participants' cultural brokering generated critical and eclectic perspectives and practices, and reshaped the power landscape in the workplace. At the same time, their cultural brokering was shaped by the interactions among power relations within and across communities of practice, social suggestions on cultural brokering and the boundary brokers' self‐positioning. The findings suggest that cultural brokering could serve as a potential teacher professional development tool to foster reciprocal learning across culture borders. The complex network of influencing factors at play suggests that, in order to facilitate positive cultural brokering, it is necessary to adopt a systemic approach that underscores resetting valued skills and expertise within and across communities, creating a positive school culture that encourages reciprocal learning and managing individual teachers' brokering mentalities and capacities. Copyright © 2019 British Educational Research Association.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1105-1123
JournalBritish Educational Research Journal
Issue number6
Early online dateJul 2019
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019


Lai, C., Li, Z., & Gong, Y. (2019). Boundary brokering for cross-cultural professional learning in international school contexts. British Educational Research Journal, 45(6), 1105-1123. doi: 10.1002/berj.3553


  • Brokering
  • Cross-cultural professional learning
  • Internationalisation of education
  • Teacher professional development


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