What is Intercultural Competence and Why is it Important to Business?

26 Pages Posted: 30 Aug 2018

Date Written: August 15, 2018


Some people are more effective than others at working with other cultures, and the success of international ventures can hinge on the difference. Business and psychology literature use various terms for this phenomenon. One common and telling example is “intercultural competence.” This review distills a definition and a framework from the author’s initial research into intercultural competence. This is in preparation for subsequent work developing criteria for selecting assessment methods and identifying assessment tools that are most useful for practice. The eventual goal is to develop a process which organizations can use to maximize business expatriates’ chance of success.

Expansive searches in ABI/INFORM Global produced 274 peer-reviewed articles from which to derive a definition. Within the most relevant of those, the bibliographies yielded even more sources, including some of the most influential works in the field. Further culling based on relevance, currency, and times cited narrowed the list to 14 definitions. The synthesis of those became “the ability to grasp different cultures, interact appropriately with them, and work effectively within them.” (This excludes other necessary qualities for business expatriates, such as professional competence.) Further investigation of the fourteen sources and their many works cited resulted in ten models. These became the root sources of a new model comprised of cognitive, affective, and conative dimensions encompassing a host of knowledge, skills, and attitudes.

Keywords: Intercultural Competence, Intercultural Communication Competence, Intercultural Adaptability, Cross-cultural competence, Cultural Agility, Cultural Intelligence, Business Expatriate

Suggested Citation

Hennings, John, What is Intercultural Competence and Why is it Important to Business? (August 15, 2018). 2018 Engaged Management Scholarship Conference: Philadelphia, PA, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3240922 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3240922

John Hennings (Contact Author)

University of South Florida ( email )

Tampa, FL 33620
United States

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