This paper contributes to our understanding of personal mastery by providing fresh insights from a cross-national study in higher education (he). It presents findings from a rich sample of informants in two well-established universities in the uk and vietnam, and develops a framework that illustrates the antecedents and outcomes of personal mastery in the two cultures. The multi-level analysis performed provides valuable insights that extend our current understanding of personal mastery beyond the individual level as it is traditionally theorized. Instead, we are able to show that a number of contextual conditions at the organizational, industry and the national culture that may also have a bearing on the way personal mastery is cultivated. By contributing a richer account of the multifaceted nature of personal mastery, the paper draws attention to a range of implications for both future research and practice. In particular, it invites practitioners in he to apply the theories they develop in practice. 2013 Copyright taylor and francis group, llc.