Murdoch University Research Repository

Welcome to the Murdoch University Research Repository

The Murdoch University Research Repository is an open access digital collection of research
created by Murdoch University staff, researchers and postgraduate students.

Learn more

A three-stage ecological and person-in-context conceptual framework for understanding intercultural relationship development at university

Kudo, Kazuhiro (2020) A three-stage ecological and person-in-context conceptual framework for understanding intercultural relationship development at university. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

PDF - Whole Thesis
Download (2MB) | Preview


For more than four decades, numerous studies have problematised the limited interactions between international and domestic university students, yet most of this research has overlooked the developmental nature of intercultural relationships between these cohorts, and the dynamic interactions between individual and environmental dimensions that co-contribute to this development. This thesis fills this knowledge gap by constructing, empirically examining and refining a three-stage ecological and person-in-context (TEPiC) conceptual framework of intercultural relationship development. Appropriating an ecological and person-in-context perspective, this framework builds on the integration of carefully selected concepts that derived from: a systematic literature review; stage frameworks of interpersonal relationships; and the literature on intercultural friendship and cosmopolitanism.

The main proposal underpinning the TEPiC framework is that the development of intercultural relationships occurs at the dynamic experiential interface between environmental affordances and students’ agency, both of which evolve along three relational stages. This conceptualisation was followed by a thematic analysis of interview data on positive intercultural interaction experiences obtained from 32 students (14 domestics, 18 internationals) at two Japanese universities with contrastive degrees of internationalisation. The analysis revealed that compared to institutional internationalisation, individual agency plays a relatively larger role in intercultural relationship development. A detailed examination of the associations between three forms of agency (i.e. situated, cosmopolitan and creative) and three relational stages (i.e. interactivity, reciprocity and unity) led to the identification of cosmopolitan agency as a significant hallmark of intercultural relationship development. Further, in contrast to most prior research, domestic students were found to be as engaged as, or even more engaged than, international students in intercultural relationship development.

These findings call for future research that identifies the individual and environmental conditions that are most conducive to the cultivation of cosmopolitan agency in all students. The findings also suggest the need for targeted environments that help students develop and exercise the three forms of agency in a range of curriculum and non-curriculum, and engineered and student-initiated, environments. Although the generalisability of the TEPiC framework beyond the context of this research is still unknown, this conceptual framework is expected to stimulate the ongoing scholarly and educational discussion on students’ engagement in intercultural interactions and learning in various (inter-)national/regional and institutional contexts.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Education
Supervisor(s): Volet, Simone and Whitsed, Craig
Item Control Page Item Control Page


Downloads per month over past year