Chapter 10: Intercultural Competencies Across Cultures: Same or Different?
Charmine E.J. Härtel, Shannon Lloyd and Divya Singhal Introduction Although the movement of people across geographic borders and engagement in international business activities has occurred for centuries, the significant changes that took place in the latter part of the twentieth century have led to a dramatic increase in both the number of organizations working in foreign markets and the overall diversity of the global workforce. As a result, engaging in intercultural business interactions is now almost a part of daily life for employees in many organizations. Nonetheless, the business environment seems to be littered with examples of business objectives becoming the casualty of intercultural interactions going awry (Bartel-Radic, 2006). Differences in national culture mean that today’s employees are often confronted with unfamiliar language rules and communication norms. As the culture one is brought up in shapes one’s notion of appropriate communication and interaction behaviors, it is unsurprising that intercultural interactions are often beset with confusion, misunderstandings and conflict. For these reasons, organizational scholars are increasingly emphasizing the importance of intercultural competence for people working in intercultural settings. Intercultural competence refers to being able to understand the differences which may arise as a result of different cultural backgrounds and to communicate and integrate across these differences (Iles, 1995). Individuals who are interculturally competent tend not to judge those who have different attitudes and behaviors to themselves, are better at evaluating how their own behavior is affecting those they are interacting with and are generally more effective communicators than individuals lacking...
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