The Intercultural Readiness Approach is relevant to anybody who has to work in some way with people from other cultures. That goes for a clerk in a merchandising office in London, who only speaks English, never leaves his office, but who spends an hour a day on the phone chasing up worldwide deliveries and resolving mixed-up orders. It also goes for the Regional Manager for Asia and the Pacific Rim, who manages eight countries, 5,000 employees and liaises daily in four languages. At an individual level, the IRC helps each person identify his or her strengths and weaknesses, and gives constructive and practical suggestions on how to develop those areas that are appropriate for that person. Not everybody needs to be good at everything, and used in training and coaching settings, the IRC can also help to sort through and prioritise different needs and development areas. At a more strategic level, a company-wide use of the IRC can allow a company to benchmark and align the profiles and competences of its employees with its global and cross border aspirations. With the tools for Intercultural Management Development available today, to which the Intercultural Readiness Approach is an important contribution, there is no excuse to use cultural differences as justification for failed ventures. What is true, however, is that it takes time to develop these competences, and this development needs to be anticipated and invested in. Intercultural competences and profiles need to be identified in advance of the business need and developed for the success of future projects. The Intercultural Readiness Approach delivers just that.
Jalal is the founder of Talent Leadership www.Mouti.net, an entrepreneurial and innovative community to share the knowhow and boost talent.
- Objectives of the Intercultural Readiness Approach
- Assessing intercultural competences with the IRC
- Rationale behind the competences
- Outcomes of IRC Assessment
- For which purposes can the IRC be used?
- The IRC in its current format is less ideal for:
- For whom is it appropriate?
- Clarifying the term Competence
I - Intercultural Sensitivity
The degree to which a person takes an active interest in others – their cultural background, needs and perspectives, and how they express themselves. Scores capture to what extent people reflect about their own culture, how it may have influenced their values, norms and perspectives, and are willing to consider different cultural perspectives as equally valid. They also indicate how actively people seek information about others’ thoughts and feelings, i.e., by paying attention to verbal and nonverbal signals when interacting with them.
- Facet 1 – Cultural Awareness
- Facet 2 – Attention to Signals
- Why is Intercultural Sensitivity necessary for working in an intercultural environment?
- How do other researchers and practitioners define Intercultural Sensitivity? Do we have proof that it is important?
- Bennett’s (1993) Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity
- How does Bennett’s definition of Intercultural Sensitivity differ from Intercultural Sensitivity as assessed by the IRC?
- Intercultural Sensitivity according to Bhawuk & Brislin (1992)
- Cultural Empathy according to van der Zee & van Oudenhoven (2000, 2001)
- Cultural Empathy according to Ruben (1976)
II - Intercultural Communication
The degree to which a person actively monitors own communicative behaviors. Scores indicate to what extent people listen actively out of concern for how others may be affected by what they say, and how they say it. People with high scores tend to be patient communicators, cautious in how they bring across difficult messages, and willing to take more time before responding if necessary. This attitude makes it more likely that they will adjust their behavior to the needs of their listeners.
- Facet 1 – Active Listening
- Facet 2 – Adjusting Communicative Style
- Defining Communication
- Communicating is more than meaningful behaviour
- Ways of being misunderstood
- Why do we misunderstand each other?
- Communicative Competence
- Do we have proof of cultural differences in communication style? Is this competence really important?
- Intercultural Communication as assessed by the IRC
III - Building Commitment
The degree to which people actively try to influence their social environment, based on a concern for building relationships and integrating different people and concerns. The scores indicate to what extent a person focuses on the different people with whom he or she is interacting; knows how to engage them and get them committed to a shared goal. People with high scores invest into developing relationships and building strong and diverse networks. They constantly seek to understand the needs and interests of different stakeholders, and feel confident that they can create flexible solutions to meet those needs.
- Facet 1 – Building Relationships
- Facet 2 – Reconciling Stakeholder Needs
- Building Commitment and cooperating in multicultural teams
- Is management of social processes more important for multicultural than for monocultural teams?
- Building Commitment and managerial/leadership competences
- Leadership or Management?
- Transactional and transformational leadership
IV - Managing Uncertainty
The degree to which a person appreciates the uncertainty and complexity of culturally diverse environments as an opportunity for personal development. Scores on this dimension indicate the degree to which a person is curious about cultural differences, and feels confident and motivated to deal with unfamiliar groups, and unexpected, changing requirements. The scores also reflect how much a person is motivated to explore new approaches, and feels stimulated by diversity as a source for learning.
- Facet 1 – Openness to Cultural Complexity
- Facet 2 – Exploring New Approaches
- Managing Uncertainty and related concepts in the literature
- Tolerance for Ambiguity
- Agreeableness in the Big Five Model of Personality
- Do we have proof that Managing Uncertainty and related concepts are important for intercultural situations?
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