Cultural Intelligence Individual Interactions Across Cultures Business Essays

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In the process of Globalisation by which means is an integration of economies, knowledge, ideas, education, cultures etc. through communication, transportation, trade, migration. Equally culture is one of the elements of globalisation which related to languages, believes, values, fashion, art etc. and considered as meaningful communication, common ways of processing information among the people interaction. These have consequences for doing business as well as managing across cultural boundaries. There are variety of human societies or cultural in a specific region, or in the world as a whole. From the organisational point of view with the effect of managing effective business globally and measuring individual's performance or ability understanding the impact of individual's cultural background on their behaviour is essential. For this a theory was introduced by Christopher Earley and Soon Ang stated as Cultural Intelligence (CQ) in 2004.

Initially this cultural intelligence is evaluated by some experts like Geert Hofstede for IBM (1976-1973), Fons Trompenaars (1994), S. Schwartz. In the same way so many MNC's like Disney, Thomas Cook, etc. are using this cultural Intelligence (CQ) as a tool for successful Business including Hospitality and Tourism industry.

Cultural Intelligence (CQ)

Cultural intelligence was firstly described by Christopher Earley and Soon Ang in 'Cultural Intelligence: Individual interactions across cultures' and this book was published in 2003 by Stanford University.

Christopher Earley and Elaine Mosakowski in the October 2004 issue of 'Harvard Business Review described' cultural intelligence.

(Christopher Earley and Elaine Mosakowski 2004) Cultural intelligence is described as 'an outsider's natural ability to interpret someone's unfamiliar and ambiguous gesture the way that person's compatriots world'. Cultural intelligence captures a person's adjustment to new cultures. Cultural intelligence is dealing with people and situations in unfamiliar surroundings. Cultural intelligence is unique quality of each person that is each person has unique CQ which based upon own experiences.

Peterson (2004) CQ is the ability to communicate with other person in a set of behaviours for that it needs some skills both verbal and nonverbal and some qualities.

(Christopher Earley and Elaine Mosakowski, 2004) Three sources of cultural intelligence -




Cultural intelligence is the ability of people to deal effectively with the cultural aspects of their environment. e.g. India has 6 major religion more than 30 states and more than 500 local languages, every state has so different languages so that one manager cannot work directly from one state to another state without understanding local culture. Thus it began with universal aspects of human behaviour and end up with a look at each person as a unique individual or cultural intelligence is thought of as a unique characteristic of each person, but situation specific features do appear. CQ reflects several different thinking capabilities and captures a person's personal identities and their flexibility. Flexibility is critical to CQ.

Christopher Earley, Soon Ang and Joo-Seng Tan (2006) Cultural intelligence has both process and content feature.

Cultural Strategic Thinking



Cultural Strategic Thinking -

Cultural knowledge - what a person know about a specific country or culture concerning practices, beliefs and values; and

Strategic thinking - more general skill that person have about 'thinking about thinking' or developing ways to gain new cultural knowledge.

If a person has lack of cultural strategic thinking means tend to interpret other people's behaviours and intentions form of his/her own limited point of view. Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation's worldwide advertising introduces HSBC as themselves the 'world's local bank' and focuses on view point for local cultural knowledge.

The strategic thinking approach would be to skim the material briefly to decide its difficulty and what specific method might be used to master the material most effectively. This type of strategic thinking might be thought of as a strategy of learning how to learn.

Importance of cultural strategic thinking -

Open, alert and sensitive to new cultures.

Able to identify similarities and difference between different cultures.

Able to develop different strategies for acquiring knowledge about different cultures.

MAPS model to developing of cultural strategic thinking

Making sense and monitoring.

Activating thinking and reasoning skills.

Prioritizing options.

Solving problems.

Motivation -

Personal interest, effort and integrity are important factors for this element of CQ. These values give raise to personal motivation and create a sense or personal purpose and direction. Cultural intelligence requires not only knowledge of a new culture but also requires a personal motivation. A person's values and preferences help determine what motivate that person and these motives influences the goals.

The importance of personal motivation is explained in work by management researchers Hal G., M. Mendenhall and others are self orientation, other-person orientation, perspective taking and cultural toughness.

There are so many things that motivate people's action but improvement, efficiency and consistency are most important. For this element of CQ energy is also important and thinking without energy won't help.

People need both confidence and energy to adjust new cultures, the influence of confidence on cultural adjustment is positive. Confident people generate their own goals to guide and energize their action.

Behaviour -

For cross cultural interaction actions and behaviour are very critical factors because person's action, speech and nonverbal behaviour are what others can observe and its means that the impression on others that person created by appearance and action.

Behavioural cultural intelligence therefore refers to ability to observe, recognize, regulate, adapt and act accordingly in intercultural communication. A person with high level of CQ expresses easily with verbally and by body language. From all these CQ elements behavioural CQ is most difficult to acquire, many of other behaviours are habitual and everybody grow up with acting and speaking in a certain way.

For development of the element of CQ verbal communication, language knowledge, physical appearance, body gestures, facial expression are areas to look after.

CQ: in an international organization: -

CQ using this tool its easy access individual's strengths and weaknesses and after that investigate and determine the best way for that individual to manage others. After answering the easy questionnaire any person can calculate CQ. If score is low CQ can be improved with the right type of training.

CQ is measured on a scale, same like as Intelligence Quotient. People with higher CQ's are easily adopt and handle new cultural situation, any environment, using more effective business practices, than those with a lower CQ.

Hofstede's cultural dimension -

Hodgetts, Luthans, Doh (2006) some of researchers have previously evaluated culture by examining subparts like Hosfstede's dimension, Greet Hofstede conducted comprehensive study of how values in the work place are influenced by culture. Hofstede analysed a large data base of employee values score collected 1967 - 73 covering more than 70 different countries. His initial data gathered from tow questionnaire surveys with overv116, 000 respondents around the world. The individuals in these studies all worked in the local subsidiaries of IBM.

The four well known dimensions that Hofstede exmined were

Power distance : power is distributed unequally

Uncertainty Avoidance: threatened by ambiguous situations

Individualism: people look after themselves and their immediate family only

Masculinity: a situation in which the dominant values in society are success, money and things.

Explanation of four dimensions which he stated as 'software of mind' of culture is useful to explain the difference between various countries. The integration of these cultural factors helps to explain the complexity of understanding culture's effect on behaviour. Such research helps us to learn the reason for cultural differences and how they can be exceed. This initial research examined similarities among countries based on employee work values and attitudes.

McSweeney B. (2002) Explained Hofstede's research may have only culturally bound, extreme singular, theories, such as Hofstede's model of national culture are profoundly problematic. His conflation and uni - level analysis which is totally one dimensional study. Survey respondents were from a single industry (computer) and a single company (IBM).

However Hofstede's model conducted in 1970's, it includes single industry and single company but exist and it provides very small piece of information about cultural intelligence so it is acceptable for basic study of CQ and International Management.

Trompenaars's Cultural Dimension -

Another Dutch researcher Fons Trompenaars conducted research over 10 yrs period and published in 1994 on cultural dimension. He administered research questionnaire to over 15000 managers from 28 countries usable responses from at least 500 in each nation and derived five relationship orientation that address the ways in which people deal with each other. Tompenaars also mentioned both time and environment and result of his research is a adequate of information helping to explain how cultures differ and offering practical ways in which MNC's can do business in various countries. Following are these dimension -

Universalism vs Praticularism

Individualism vs. Communitanism

Neutral vs. Emotional

Specific vs. Difficuse

Achievement vs. Ascrition


The Environment

F. Trompenaars and H. Turner discovered additional insights regarding national orientation on his Universalism vs Praticularism. In brief Universalism means the belief that ideas and practices can be applied everywhere in the world without modification and praticularism means the belief that circumstances dictate how ideas and practices should be applied and something can't be done the same everywhere.

As neutral culture explained a culture in which emotions are held in check and emotional culture means a culture in which emotions are expressed openly and naturally.

F. Trompenarrs uncovered two more important cultural aspects which are time and the environment.

Time -

He identified two different approaches sequential which means people tend to do only one activity at one time where as synchronous approach are common in people, tend to do more than one activity at a time.

The Environment -

Troompenaars also explained the ways in which people deal with environment. Specific attention should be given to whether they believe in controlling outcomes or letting things take their own course. He asked two questions to managers and must has to select one of them -

What happens to me is my own doing.

Sometimes I feel that I don't have enough control the directions my life is taking.

Tompenaars's research helps to support and more important to extend the work of Hofstede. His research provides some useful points for identifying cultural differences and it gives guidelines for doing business effectively around the world.

Schwartz's Cultural Values-

Schwartz S. (1999), social psychologist and he explained the values in his book The Structure of Human Values: Origins and Implications and done research on universal values and how they exist in a wide variety. Most of his work based upon broad questions about values, behaviour and choices and how do value priorities influence to ideas, attitudes, and actions in cultural, religious, environmental ect.

Through his studies, Schwartz concluded that various types of cultural values exist: achievement, conformity, power, security, self-direction, stimulation, tradition, and universalism.

The GLOBE Project -

Kreitner and Kinicki (2010) The GLOBE (Global Leadership and Organisational Behaviour Effectiveness) research program shows an additional approach to measuring cultural differences. A multi-country study, evaluation of nine different cultural attributes and leadership behaviour among more than 17000 managers from 951 organisations in 62 countries including three industries: financial services, food processing and telecommunication.

The GLOBE study is interesting because its nine elements were defined, conceptualised and operationalised by a multicultural team research.

Nine attributes of GLOBE project as follows

Uncertanity avoidance

Power distance

Collectivism I

Collectivism II

Gender egalitarianism


Future orientation

Performance orientation

Human orientation

World Values Survey -

The World Values Survey is an ongoing academic project by social scientist to access the state of socio-cultural, moral, religious, political values of different cultures around the world.

This study was designed to examine the link between values and life satisfaction, examining the role of culture in this process. The direction and strength of this relationship was moderated. This study demonstrates the amenability of the data collected by the WVS to individual-level analysis of psychological process that is responsive to the shaping influence of variations in their national societal characteristics.

Critical evaluation of Cultural Intelligence versus other Cultural Approaches -

CQ is related to Emotions, on the other hand Hofstede's and Trompenaars's dimension, Schwartz' value, The GLOBE Project and World Value Survey all other approaches are related to social science/anthropology. CQ is knowledge based and practical on the other hand all other approaches are based on information and theoretical. CQ comes from mind and its related to psychology on the other hand all other approaches are related to social science. CQ is related to any particular person or Individual on the other hand all other approaches are related to national culture or group of culture or subculture.

CQ is internal thing which is related to skills, logic, behaviour, qualities of individual on the other hand all other approaches are external and related to family, tradition, cultures, etc. CQ is easily measureable; with very short time by answering some questions on the other hand all other all other approaches are taking time to making any conclusion e.g. Hofstede's dimension taken 7yrs and World Values Survey still going on.

CQ can developed by learning and training and needs to improve more personal skill for that more cultural knowledge is required on the other hand by studying of all other approaches knowledge can be increased and its helps to understanding the CQ. Similarly through the CQ process development individual's personal skill development happens and increases in cultural knowledge, in the same way all other approaches increases knowledge and culture and its helps to understand the CQ.

However CQ and all other approaches are opposite side of a coin usually they are working hand in hand and both are depending on each other.

Importance of CQ and other all approaches for Hospitality and Tourism Industry -

Christopher Earley and Elaine Mosakowski, (2004) Best Practice Cultural Intelligence, Harvard Business Review, October, 2004, pp-3, [i.p.4]

Christopher Earley, Soon Ang and Joo-Seng Tan (2006) CQ: Developing cultural intelligence at work, Stanford University Press, Stanford, California, pp-23 [i.p.37, 43, 60, 63, 80-1, 82-3, 99]

Hodgetts, Luthans, Doh (2006) International Management Culture, Strategy and behaviour, 6th edition, McGraw-Hill, pp 101-20

Peterson (2004) Cultural intelligence: a guide to working with people from other cultures, Intercultural press.

McSweeney B. (2002) Hofstede's Identification of National cultural differences and their consequences: A triumph of faith - A failure of Analysis, Human Relations, 55 (1), pp 89-118

F. Trompenaars, C.H. Turner (1999) Riding the waves of culture: understanding cultural diversity in business.2nd edition Nicholas Brealey Publishing London, pp-20

Kreitner and Kinicki (2010) Organizational Behaviour 9th edition McGraw-Hill, pp110

Schwartz S. (1999), A Theory of Cultural Values and Some Implication for work, Applied Psycology: An International review, 48(1) pp23-47