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.
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)