Cross-cultural competence: definitions and challenges- University of Liverpool

 Image

By Kaye

According to Goodman (2012) cross-cultural competence is defined as cultural intelligence (CQ) which is strongly linked to cultural self-awareness. Being aware of other cultures and ways of doing business, comprehending the effects of cultural stereotypes and ethnocentrism and fostering flexibility among work relations are common features of individuals who possess strong cross cultural skills. Considering that one the focuses in this regard is efficient communication, The US Department of Health (2013) brings the linguistic factor to their definition, elucidating that cross cultural competence is a set of linguistic and congruent behaviors, policies and acts that form a system, agency or among individuals making it feasible and effective to work in cross-cultural environments. Therefore, one can infer that cross cultural competence is aimed at promoting mutual understanding among culturally different team members in order to achieve the company’s objectives. More than just efficiently communicate and develop tasks, I strongly believe that an innovative organizational environment can be fostered by taking advantage of diverse cultural elements.

Instilling cultural intelligence comes with its challenges and I would dare to say that the main challenge is the generation of self-awareness in individuals. As Goodman (2010, pp. 48) said the key factor in the process of instilling cultural intelligence is that individuals should become conscious of their own world view, rectifying their misconceptions and anticipating mistakes. However, it requires paradigm breaking and this can’t be done unless the individual is entirely involved and ready to plunge into the process. In addition to that, bring about changes through paradigms breaking might take long to happen and in most of the cases it goes against the urgent features of the business world. Therefore, selecting and recruiting the right people is of fundamental importance in order to accelerate the training and educational process mentioned by the author.

Another challenge that cross-cultural competence programs face is with regards to virtual teams. Besides dealing with diverse cultural elements, factors such as time difference and lack of face to face interaction might cause misunderstandings and sense of isolation which can lead to employees’ work dissatisfaction. When trying to build up strong international teams, problems may arise through the different ways individuals realize the importance of decision making processes and hierarchy levels. The way team members’ deal with cultural misunderstandings might put the team’s effectiveness at risk.

Last but not least, Goodman (2010, pp. 49) exposes the difficulty of measuring results of cross-cultural training and how it may impact the decision of corporations to invest in those training programs. In order to mitigate the challenges when instilling cultural intelligence Goodman (2010, pp.49) explains that it’s   important to establish the link between cross-cultural competence and business performance; configure programs with clear and focused structure; make the courses to obey a continue order so that they’ll make sense to the attendees; make information accessible; make each course customized to the groups’ needs. Nonetheless, I strongly believe that in order to create deep self-awareness simplistic cultural training is not enough. It is essential to promote critical thinking in order to have old paradigms broken.

 

 

References:

 Goodman, N. (2012) ‘Training for cultural competence’, Industrial and Commercial Training, 44 (1), pp.47 – 50.

US Department of Health (2013) ‘What’s cultural competency’ [Online] Available: http://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/templates/browse.aspx?lvl=2&lvlID=11 (Accessed: February 5 2014)

Convergence, Divergence or Crossvergence ? University of Liverpool Forum.

Ralston (2008, pp.28,29) defines convergence and divergence as opposites tendencies when it comes to values formation and evolution. I do not believe those theories would be as efficient as the crossvergence theory in explaining complex relationships between headquarters and subsidiaries. Convergence and divergence assume extreme positions, in which a given society would or would not be influenced by factors such as technology and that technology itself would reshape values. Let’s compare Ralston’s convergence theory with economics convergence theory or The Catch Up Effect. The catch up growth consists of poor economies growing faster than rich economies and eventually converging with regards to per capita income. However, not every poor country would benefit from it. In order to achieve an income convergence a given country should have the abilities of absorbing new technology, attracting foreign direct investment and participating in global markets. Thus, I strongly believe that more complex variables shape and reshape values; technology might be one factor influencing people and consequently relationships, but surely not the only one. Abramovitiz & David (1994,pp.4)

With regards to crossvergence theory, it considers several important macro and micro predictors of values development. In other words, socio cultural aspects and business ideology would play significant role when it comes to values formation and evolution. Ralston (2008, pp. 35).

The author’s framework is based on many aspects of Hofstede’s cultural analysis model such as individualism versus collectivism dimensions. It is of fundamental importance the analysis of national culture in order to bring about more effective and efficient integration between headquarters and subsidiaries. However, the industry standards, business environment situation and organizational culture must also be carefully taken into account in order not only to have a successful integration process but also minimize risks.

 I would consider applying Hofstede’s cultural analysis framework and Oosthuizen’s “The Core Value” framework during headquarter and subsidiary integration process. I find Oosthuizen’s Framework very helpful when it comes to core values and learned values observations and comparisons. For instance, a manager could use those two dimensions in order to identify and compare his/her core and learned values with the core and learned values of the members of the subsidiary where he is conducting business.

According to Oosthuizen (2004, pp.68) core values are universal. Therefore, exercising   core and learned values self-awareness could help managers to align more efficiently organizational and individual’s goals. In addition, when marketing a product, Oosthuizen’s Core Value Model helps to effectively establish local and global presence through the incorporation of local and universal symbols, generating multicultural communication empathy. Hofstede’s framework provides important parameters of analysis that can be converted into strategic information inside an organization, facilitating the relationship between headquarters and subsidiaries. 

Adriana Kaye

 

References:

Abramovitiz, M. David, P. (1994) ‘Convergence and deferred catch up: Productivity Leadership and the Waning of American Exceptionalism.’Stanford University [Online] Available at :http://www.merit.unu.edu/publications/rmpdf/1994/rm1994-027.pdf (Accessed: August 17 2013)

 

Hofstede, G. (2013) The Hofstede Centre [Online] Available at: http://geert-hofstede.com/italy.html (Accessed:  17 August 2013)

 

Oosthuizen, T. (2004) ‘In marketing across cultures: are you enlightening the world or are you speaking in tongues?’, Design Issues, 20 (2), 61–72, MIT Press Journals [Online]. DOI: 10.1162/074793604871293 (Accessed: 17 August 2013).

http://search.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.liv.ac.uk/login.aspx?direct=true&db=hlh&AN=13269965&site=ehost-live&scope=site

Ralston, D.A. (2007) ‘The crossvergence perspective: reflections and projections’, Journal of International Business Studies, 39 (1), pp. 27–40, Palgrave Macmillan [Online]. DOI:10.1057/palgrave.jibs.8400333 (Accessed: 17 August 2013).

http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.liv.ac.uk/10.1057/palgrave.jibs.8400333