Cultural competence

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1 Introduction

This piece attempted to summarize some elements of cultural competence and related concepts, such as cultural intelligence, global competence or global citizenship in order to prepare an EC research proposal. You may use it as a starting point for further reading. - Daniel K. Schneider (talk) 20:10, 23 March 2016 (CET)

Cultural competence also is known as intercultural or cross-cultural competence, or as cultural intelligence.

Cultural competence, i.e. being able to cope with cultural diversity is becoming increasingly important. Cultural competence can been seen as a subset of so-called global competence laying the foundations for "global citizenship". With increasing cultural diversity as a result of globalization, intercultural competence (IC) to interact and to co-exist in multicultural environments is recognized as being very important. (Corder and U-Mackey, 2015). Most cultural competence models are either component models or process models or both. Component models can be structured (e.g. affective, cognitive, behavioral), hierarchical, or simple lists of characteristics.

This page also includes a series of sub-pages that include various instruments (surveys, self-assessment questionnaires, rubrics):

2 What do we mean by cultural competence ?

Many fields are contributing to the topic of "cultural competence" and there is neither a universally accepted definition nor a way of looking at cultural competence.

In other contexts than the health or social services sector, cultural competence is often defined by other terms, e.g. intercultural competence, cross-cultural competence or cultural intelligence. Chiu et al (2013), in the introduction to a special issue of cross-cultural psychology [1] report that one of the earliest attempts to define and describe the concept of cross-cultural competence was undertaken by Hammer, Gudykunst, and Wiseman (1978) in their study of “intercultural effectiveness.”. An exploratory analysis of 24 abilities subjected to an exploratory factor analysis led to a “three-factor model of intercultural effectiveness: (a) the ability to manage psychological stress, (b) the ability to communicate effectively, and (c) the ability to establish interpersonal relationships.”. The authors then mentioned later work by Chen and Starosta (1997, 1998, 2000), suggesting that intercultural competence incorporates three related dimensions: sensitivity, awareness, and skills. Sensitivity refers to an individual’s capacity to comprehend and appreciate cultural differences. Awareness is linked to the ability to understand how culture affects thinking, behavior, and interactions. Skills are reflected in effective communication and intercultural interactions.

In 2009, Spitzberg and Chagnon, [2] in a review of 50 years of intercultural competence research, identified 264 different components of intercultural competence, and among these 64 cognitive/personality traits, 77 affective/attitudinal dimensions and 127 behavioral/skill factors. Of course many of these factors do overlap.

According to Schnabel et al. (2015) [3], Bolten (2007a) [4] identified three types of models for intercultural competence:

“(a) listing models in which different characteristics of intercultural competence are simply collected (e.g., Brislin, 1981 and Ruben, 1976);”
“(b) structure models in which the characteristics of intercultural competence are assigned to affective, behavioral, and cognitive categories (e.g., Dauner, 2011, Gertsen, 1990 and Ting-Toomey, 1993);”
“(c) procedural models in which intercultural competence is defined as context-specific competence to act due to its manifold connections with other core competences (e.g., Bolten, 2007b). Spitzberg and Changnon (2009) [2] distinguished five types of competence models: compositional, co-orientational, developmental, adaptational, and causal process. The latter two model types assume that intercultural competence consists of several related components. In causal process models the nature of those relations is defined via correlations tested in empirical research.”

Some more recent research seems to settle on a more behavioural definition, e.g. “Wilson, Ward, and Fischer (2013) define cross-cultural competence in terms of “culture-specific skills required to (a) function effectively within a new cultural context and/or (b) interact effectively with people from different cultural backgrounds.”” (cited by Chiu et al, 2013) [1]). Hammer et al. (2003: 422) [5] define intercultural competence “as the ability to think and act in interculturally appropriate ways”.

Cultural competence seems to be defined as either a list of attributes (traits, knowledge, attitudes, skills, behavior sets, etc.) of an individual or as the ability to interact effectively with members of foreign cultures. The latter (being able to interact) is related to the former. Finally, an emerging literature also stresses that possessing cultural competence means being able to learn from encountered situations.

2.1 Compositional models

Some of the best known compositional models use a Cognitive/Affective/Behavioral component model. According to Hammer (2015), [6], “the CAB paradigm is essentially compositional, with research focused on identifying personal characteristic components of intercultural competence. Various personal characteristics are examined largely through the lens of cognitive, affective, and behavioral (CAB) dimensions. This paradigmatic approach focuses attention on such personal variables as tolerance of ambiguity, open-mindedness, and behavioral flexibility.”.

Some of these models can be quite complex. For example, Gabrenya (2011) [7] present a complex component model, the Defense Language Office Framework for Cross-cultural Competence, developed for the military since 2008 [8] and that has been partly validated in the study. The authors distinguish between low-level competencies and enablers (i.e. antecedent variables) that can be combined into higher-level categories and constructs.

Kupka et al.'s (2007) [9] Rainbow Model of Intercultural Communication Competence consists of ten components of competence: (1) foreign language competence, (2) cultural distance, (3) self-awareness, (4) knowledge, (5) skills, (6) motivation, (7) appropriateness, (8) effectiveness, (9) contextual interactions, and (10) intercultural affinity.

Schnabel et al. (2015) [10] define intercultural competence with five components (which then are further divided into subcomponents). Each of these dimensions has associated (observable) facets.

Intercultural competence model of Schnabel et al. (2015)
CommunicationLearningSocial interactionSelf-knowledgeSelf-managementCreating synergies
Definition (shortened by DKS)[..] To be responsive to the person you are talking to and to be able to actively direct the conversation. [..] Persons are seen as being capable of learning, if they recognize that they have gaps in their knowledge and, as a consequence, invest time in improving their knowledge[..] Relationships with other people positively influence our own well-being and can reduce or prevent stress and avoid a culture shock. [..]Actively reflecting and thus understanding of the own cultural identity increases self-knowledge and positively influences the awareness of and also the successful interaction with other cultures[..] The existence of strategies, which make dealing with challenges easier is therefore of great importance[..] When a joint aim is to be achieved it is of great importance to have the ability to realize potential miss-understandings and lead a group towards common solutions
Related FacetsSensitivity in communication, clarity in communication, flexibility in communication, perspective-taking in communicationWillingness to use a foreign language, willingness to learn, information seekingBuilding professional networks, socializing, integration in groups, building trusting relationshipsCultural identity awareness, cultural identity reflectionGoal setting, strategic problem-solvingMediation of different interests, enabling productive collaborations

Byram (1997) [11] cited by Deardorff (2004) [12] defines interculturual competence as:“Knowledge of others; knowledge of self; skills to interpret and relate; skills to discover and/or to interact; valuing others’ values, beliefs, and behaviors; and relativizing one’s self. Linguistic competence plays a key role”. In Deardorffs (2004:184), Delphi study, the following definition achieved the highest rating: [Intercultural competence is] “the ability to communicate effectively and appropriately in intercultural situations based on one’s intercultural knowledge, skills, and attitudes.”. "Auxiliary" skills identified included “skills to analyze, interpret, and relate as well as skills to listen and observe. Cognitive skills emerged including comparative thinking skills and cognitive flexibility. These skills point to the importance of process in acquiring intercultural competence and the attention that needs to be paid to developing these critical skills”.

Leung et al. (2014), [13] presented a figure that defines intercultural effectiveness as being a result of intercultural competence. The latter is defined by intercultural capabilities, which are a product of two related factors: intercultural attitudes and worldviews as well as intercultural traits. This model therefore postulates that some constructs are antecedants of others. More precisely, the argumentation of Leung et al, is based on some prior research. E.g Ackerman (1996)[14] found that personal traits influence knowledge acquisition. Ang & Van Dyne (2008) that [15] intercultural traits are antecedents of cultural intelligence. Sri Ramalu et al. (2012) [16] and [17] found that cultural intelligence mediated the effect of the trait "openness to experience" for job performance and adaptive performance.

K. Leung, S. Ang, M.L. Tan, 2014

Cultural competence is a form of literacy, but note that the term "cultural literacy" often seems to refer to simple facts knowledge (history, geography, etc.). The latter can be seen as one of the prerequisites for cultural competence. Interestingly Hirsch et al.'s dictionary of cultural literacy [18] was seen as basis for good information processing [19]

2.2 Behavioral and developmental models

According to Hammer (2015), [20], Bennett (1986) [21] developed a first constructivist model termed "Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity" (DMIS). It “draws attention to the varying ways individuals engage cultural difference in a more holistic, sense making/sense acting framework [.. and] focuses on the developmental progression individuals make in moving from less to greater levels of intercultural competence, i.e., to a more complex way of understanding and responding to patterns of cultural difference between self and other.” (Hammer:2015).

Cross et al. (1998), in the context of workplace diversity, laid the foundation of many further studies that have a behavioral and developmental orientation and that also have more practical aims: “Cultural competence is a a set of congruent behaviors, attitudes, and policies that come together in a system, agency, or among professionals and enables that system, agency, or those professionals to work effectively in cross-cultural situations”. For exemple, Heyward (2002) cited by Deithl & Prints (2008), defines intercultural literacy as the competencies, understandings, attitudes, language, proficiencies, participation and identities necessary for effective cross-cultural engagement.

Hunter (2004) [22] argues that “that the most critical step in becoming globally competent is for a person to develop a keen understanding of his/her own cultural norms and expectations: a person should attempt to understand his/her own cultural box before stepping into someone else’s.”

Kim (2005) [23] define cross-cultural adaptation as dialectical process of stress, adaptation, and growth.

Dervin (2011) [24] complains that (most) “approaches do not take into account the complexity of individuals who interact with each other and reduce them to cultural facts or give the impression of ‘encounters of cultures’ rather than individuals.”. He also argues that much research on interculturality could be tainted with biases towards others (e.g. ethnocentrism, stereotypes, and generalizations). E.g. in his discourse analysis of publish research he attempts to show that “excerpts show a confusing oscillation between the Chinese student as an essentialized identical entity and the Chinese student as an individual, which nullifies some of the analyses and interpretations proposed by the researchers.”. For Dervin, such research is "Janusian", in reference to the two-faced God. “a researcher juggles with discourses that are liquid (open-endedness, (inter)individualism) and solid (culturalism, differentialism) at the same time.”. More radically, he suggests that “Ethnic, cultural, and linguistic identity is considered by this approach as ‘the image they [individuals] wish to project at a particular time rather than as evidence of an essentialist [national] culture’ (Holliday et al. 2004, 12)[25]. In other words, researchers, who wish to take a critical and ‘liquid’ stance towards intercultural discourses, shouldn't be interested in the question ‘what's the student's culture/identity/intercultural competence/sense of acculturation?’ but rather ‘how do they construct their culture/identity/intercultural competence/sense of acculturation?’.”

2.3 A perspective from the health sector

Cultural competence in the health sector if often intermixed with multicultural and social justice initiatives. “[..] Psychologists interested in cultural competence have begun to focus on issues related to social justice advocacy (i.e., anti-racism, discrimination, oppression, and economic deprivation) (see Gamst & Liang, 2013, for an introduction).” (Lieberman and Gamst (2015). [26])

According to Calzada & Suarez-Balcazar, 2014) [27], “Numerous fields such as psychology, social work, counseling, nursing, and education are contributing to a growing body of literature on the topic of cultural competence. Several interchangeable terms have been introduced to refer to cultural competence including cultural sensitivity, cultural awareness, cultural knowledge, culturally responsive care, cultural brokering, cultural proficiency, and cultural encounters. At least eighteen models of cultural competence have been proposed across disciplines [28], though few have been developed using data.”.

Suarez-Balcazar (2011) [29] and Balcazar (2009) [30] present a simple contextual model of cultural competence that emphasizes that achieving cultural competency is a process that involves at least three dimensions.

  • A cognitive component emphasizes both awareness of one's biases and knowledge about other cultures.
  • A behavioral component emphasizes the ability to put skills into practise, and more generally, to effectively interact with others.
  • A organizational components emphasizes support for culturally competent practices

The authors do not stress affect or meta-cognition in the picture, two other key elements identified by other other authors. Since both affect and meta-cognition cannot be directly taught, we conclude that the presented figure is more a model of achieving cultural competency than a model of what it is. To support this view, the authors (p. 3) stress that “cultural competence is an ongoing and fluid process and that “cultural competence is an ongoing, contextual, dynamic, experiential and developmental process that impacts one’s ability to understand, communicate with, serve, and meet the needs of individuals who look, think, and/or behave differently from oneself.”

Cultural competence also can be described at an organizational or societal level. Hernandez et al. (2009). [31], from a review of the literature, suggest that “cultural competence occurs when there is compatibility among four important factors: community context, cultural characteristics of local populations, organizational infrastructure, and direct service support”.

2.4 Summary

The field seems to be divided according to areas of interest and also affiliation to established fields of study.

Culture itself is difficult to define. Billmann-Mahecha (2003) [32] defines it [translated] in the following way: “Culture can be characterized as a character, knowledge, rule and symbol system that structures on on hand the human action space, and on the other hand is constructed and altered through the implementation of actions and their practice.” In more simple words, it is something that guides our activities, but that is also reshaped by those.

Reasearch and common sense agree that cultural differences do exist. On also can argue that cultures have common traits, and that people are far more similar across cultures than they are different (Spitzberg 2013) [33]. Since people (and not cultures in the abstract) communicate, Spitzberg (p. 432) also argues that “a theory of intercultural communication competence is necessarily a subset of a theory of interpersonal communication competence”. And furthermore: “To the extent that cul­ture plays a role, it plays it through the motivation, knowledge, and skills of the interactants involved”.

With respect to application, we so far identified the following major areas of research and development:

  • Health care, counseling and social work
  • Higher education (Internationalization of campuses, study abroad, and integration of minorities)
  • International business

The first two seem to very popular in the USA and for diverse reasons, one of which is related to minority issues.

In summary we can say that cultural competence is multi-dimensional construct that is not always perceived and used in the same way. Probably most authors and experts could agree that cultural competence includes at least three dimensions:

  • affective (intercultural sensitivity)
  • cognitive (intercultural awareness)
  • behavioral (intercultural effectiveness)

Other authors stress the behavioral-developmental aspect. I.e. that cultural competence is something that can be acquired, going through stages.

3 Aspects of cultural competence

Cultural comptence can be studied from various angles. In this chapter, we attempt to summarize a few.

3.1 Intercultural commmunication

Intercultural communication competence can be seen as a specialisation of interpersonal communication competence. “Intercultural communication ‘occurs when large and important cultural differences create dissimilar interpretations and expectations about how to communicate competently’ (Lustig and Koester 2006, 52)” cited by Perry and Southwell (2011) [34]

Kupka et al. (2007)[35], based on Gudykunst et al.'s work, considers that “Achieving communicative competence in intercultural contact situations is very demanding given the elevated risk of misinterpretations of communication content due to culturally and contextually determined rules for appropriate and effective behavior. Decreased levels of predictability with resulting increased levels of uncertainty, ambiguity, anxiety, and demands on knowledge, skill application, and motivated performance of skills are the result of these potential misunderstandings (Gudykunst & Kim, 2003)[36]. According to Kupka et al., most component models of intercultural communication competence are based on Spitzberg and Cupach’s (1984) [37] knowledge, skills, motivation, appropriateness, and effectiveness, i.e. some kind of specialisation of the three basic intercultural competence component types (cognitition, affect, behavior)

According to Deardorff (2004:35), Chen and Starosta (1999) [38] define “intercultural communication competence” as “the ability to effectively and appropriately execute communication behaviors that negotiate each other’s cultural identity or identities in a culturally diverse environment” (p. 28). They outline three key components of intercultural communication competence: intercultural sensitivity (affective process), intercultural awareness (cognitive process), and intercultural adroitness (behavioral process), defined as verbal and nonverbal skills needed to act effectively in intercultural interactions.”.

Deardorff (2004:196) in her PHD thesis and subsequent publications developed a pyramid model that formulates two underlying hypothesis: The degree of intercultural competence depends on the acquired degree of underlying elements, in particular, from personal level (attitudes) to interpersonal/interactive level (outcomes). Darla K. Deardorff's model [39] includes 5 components. Below is summary of a component model presented in Theory Reflections: Intercultural Competence Framework/Model (retrieved Feb 2016).

1. Attitudes: respect, openness, curiosity and discovery. Openness and curiosity imply a willingness to risk and to move beyond one’s comfort zone. Respect demonstrate to others that they are valued.

2. Knowledge: cultural self-awareness, culture-specific knowledge, deep cultural knowledge (including understanding other world views, and sociolinguistic awareness. The most important element is understanding the world from others’ perspectives.

3. Skills (addressing the acquisition and processing of knowledge): observation, listening, evaluating, analyzing, interpreting, and relating.

4. Internal Outcomes: flexibility, adaptability, an ethnorelative perspective and empathy. If attained, individuals are able to see from others’ perspectives and to respond to them according to the way in which the other person desires to be treated.

5. External Outcomes is “the effective and appropriate behavior and communication in intercultural situations.

Between these dimensions there is a dependency. Desired external outcomes rely on desired internal outcomes and the latter rely on skills and knowledge. Skills and knowledge requires requisite attitudes. The pyramid in the figure below summarizes the model.

Deardorff (2004) pyramid model of cultural competence

This pyramid model then can be turned into a process model. While it is possible to work on desired outcomes directly from attitudes or knowledge/comprehension or skills, it is preferable to start with attitudes, then work on knowledge and comprehension as well as skills, then work on the internal frame of reference.

Deardorff (2004) process model of cultural competence

Since attitude, knowledge, and skill acquisition and creating new frames of reference are tied to experience we also could interpret this model as perpetual cycle that just emphasizes that without having appropriate attitudes, certain knowledge and skill cannot be properly acquired. Useful and operational frames of reference in turn must be grounded in solid knowledge and know-how. Finally effective behavior and communication must be aligned with deeper beliefs.

While Deardorff's developmental model starts with affect, other authors argue that the first step requires a cognitive effort, i.e. intercultural awareness. In any case, both would agree that development is cycle that involves change in any of the identified components.

Cognitive competence may be sectorial. For example, Derald Wing Sue (2001:abstract) [40] proposed “multidimensional model of cultural competence (MDCC) incorporates three primary dimensions: (a) racial and culture-specific attributes of competence, (b) components of cultural competence, and (c) foci of cultural competence.”

The MDCC allows for the systematic identification of cultural competence [of various US residents or citizens] in a number of different areas. It is a factorial combination of 3 x 4 x 5 items (below).

1. Components: Awareness, Knowledge, and Skills)
2. Foci: Individual, Professional, Organizational, and Societal
3. Racial and culture specific: African American, Asian American, Latino/Hispanic American, Native American, and European American

Lieberman and Gamst (2015). [41], in a review of "Intercultural Communication", identified three significant trends in recent research: intercultural context, measurement of intercultural communication competence, and linkages between multicultural competence/social justice initiatives and Intercultural communication competence (ICC).

With respect to ICC measurement, the authors, citing Matsumoto & Hwang (2013) [42], identify the Cultural Intelligence Scale (CQ), the Multicultural Personality Inventory (MPQ) and the Intercultural Adjustment Potential Scale (ICAPS) as the most salient instruments and describe what they measure: “The following latent dimensions appear to underlie these ICC constructs: (CQ) motivation, behavior, metacognition; (MPQ) open mindedness-social initiative, open mindedness–flexibility, cultural empathy, emotional stability; and (ICAPS) openness, flexibility, critical thinking, and emotion regulation”. However, Hammer (2015) wrote a strong rebuttal and defense of the IDI vs. the ICAPS.

3.2 Acculturation

For Sam and Berry (2010) [43] acculturation “refers to the process of cultural and psychological change that results following meeting between cultures. Closely linked to acculturation is adaptation, which is used in this article to refer to individual psychological well-being and how individuals manage socioculturally. Adaptation is thus considered a consequence of acculturation.” Acculturation strategies refer to the various ways in which groups and individuals seek to acculture. (Berry, 1974, 1980) [44]. Acculturation concerns all sorts of changes, e.g. social, physical, psychological. From a individual point of view, the dimension are the same as the ones that can be found in the (cross/inter) cultural competence literature, i.e. affect, cognition and behavior.

"What changes during acculturation?" was a central question asked by Sam and Berry (2010). Below are some challenges:

  • Stress and coping: “acculturation can be likened to a set of major life events that pose challenges to the individual.”
  • “cultural learning: people in cultural transitions may lack the necessary skills needed to engage the new culture”
  • “Social identity: How groups and individuals define their identity in relations to the members of their own ethnic group (i.e., ethnic identity), on the one hand, and the larger society within which they are acculturating”

There are two dimensions of acculturation strategy, concerning both the dominant and the nondominant group (Berry, 1974; Berry 1997 [45]);

Acculturation strategies (Berry, 1997)
Issue 1: Is it considered to be of value to maintain one's identity and characteristics ?
+ -
Issue 2: Is it considered to be of value to maintain relationships with larger society + Integration Assimilation
- Separation/Segregation Marginalization

Berry (2001) [46] distinguishes two perspectives: (1) ethnocultural groups and (2) for larger societies. Combining again the two dimensions (maintaining one’s heritage culture and identity +/- and Seeking relationships to other cultural groups +/-) we can define four strategies of ethnocultural groups and for larger societies.

Strategies of ethnocultural groups (e.g. ones that migrate)
Issue 1: Maintenance of heritage culture and identity
+ -
Issue 2: Relationships sought among groups + Integration Assimilation
- Separation Marginalization
Strategies of the larger society (expectations of the dominant one)
Issue 1: Maintenance of heritage culture and identity
+ -
Issue 2: Relationships sought among groups + Multiculturalism Melting pot
- Segregation Marginalization

“For immigrants, the main question is “How shall we deal with these two issues?” whereas for the receiving society it is “How should they deal with them? In practice, however, each group must also concern itself with the views and practices of the other. For members of the former, their choices may be constrained by the orientations of the receiving society, whereas for members of the latter, the receiving society needs to consider how to change in order to accommodate immigrants. Thus, for both groups in contact, there is necessarily a mutual process, involving one’s own attitudes and behaviors and a perception of those of the other groups.”” (Berry, 2001:618).

According to Berry (2010), “A number of studies have found that the acculturating strategy that people adopt is related to how well they adapt. The most common finding is that the integration strategy is the most adaptive in several settings and is associated with better psychological and sociocultural adaptation.”. However, the authors also point out current lack of understanding: “Although we have an understanding of what the distinct types of acculturation strategies are and of their consequences, it appears that little is known about the antecedents—that is, what predicts individuals to want to maintain their own and others’ cultural identity (and adopt different types of acculturation strategies). Furthermore, there is a lack of multilevel studies that integrate society-level characteristics and individual-level characteristics in understanding acculturation.”

Jean Phinney (1998) [47] developed a very similar typology based on the degree of identification with both one's own ethnic group and the majority group. This “model suggests that there are not only the two acculturative extremes of assimilation or pluralism but at least four possible ways of dealing with ethnic group membership in a diverse society (Berry et al., 1986). Strong identification with both groups is indicative of integration or biculturalism; identification with neither group suggests marginality. An exclusive identification with the majority culture indicates assimilation, whereas identification with only the ethnic group indicates separation.” (p. 502)

Identification with ethnic group
Identification with
majority group
Strong weak
Strong Aculturated
Weak Ethnically identified
Ethnically embedded

A few authors challenge the "integration / multiculturalism" hypothesis. According to Rudmin (2009) [48], “Sociologist Roger Brubaker's (2001) [49] provocative article on "The Return to Assimilation?" argues that multiculturalism, generically labeled as "differentialist", arose as a reaction to coercive and oppressive policies of assimilation, but that there is now a trend away from differentialist multiculturalism towards assimilation, but a softer form, defined as an intransitive process of becoming similar. "As a normatively charged concept, assimilation, in this sense, is opposed not to difference but to segregation, ghettoization, and marginalization" (p. 543).”

Other authors distinguish acculturation from assimilation in the sense that the former is pre-condition of the latter. According to [50] Gordon, one of the founding fathers of assimilation research, “argued that there are seven major variables or sub-processes within the overall assimilation process (Gordon, 1964). The seven variables are acculturation, structural assimilation, marital assimilation, identification assimilation, attitude receptional assimilation, behavior receptional assimilation, and civic assimilation (Gordon, 1964, p. 71). [..] Gordon explained that the first sub-process experienced by an ethnic group is cultural and behavioral assimilation, otherwise known as acculturation (Gordon, 1964, p. 77).”

Te Lindert et al. (2008) [51] distinguish three components in the acculturation process:

  • Antecedent, background conditions refer to contextual variables that constitute the backdrop of the acculturation process, such as perceived discrimination.
  • Intervening, acculturation orientations refer to the question of how immigrants want to deal with their ethnic culture and with the mainstream culture (e.g., focus on the ethnic culture and/or on the mainstream culture).
  • Acculturation outcomes (e.g. sociocultural adaptation) refer to the consequences of the acculturation process.

In this study on Iranian refugees, they found that firstly feeling discriminated against was a frequent experience despite a relatively high level of Dutch orientation and their good level of education. Among other results, they found that refugees with high-status professions in their homelands have more difficulties coping with their lower, status in their new environment and that women adapt better than men.

Acculturation has been measured with survey instruments, in particular by John Berry and associates. Ward and Rana-Deuba distinguish between 21 dimensions and a related questionnaire includes both attitudes and behavioral items [52] “Research with the Acculturation Index has suggested that the two dimensions of acculturation (identification with own culture and with host culture) are at least as important as the four modes of acculturation (integration, assimilation, separation, and marginalization) in predicting adjustive outcomes.” (Ward and Rand-Deuba:437). The simpler Cultural competence/Vancouver cultural acculturation index includes only 21 items [53]

Rudmin (2009) [48] identified over a hundred different taxonomies of acculturation constructs.

Van Selm et al. (1997) conducted a study of life satisfaction and competence of Bosnian refugees in Norway [54]. The questionnaire include the following components: Locus of control scale, acculturation attitude scale, majority attitude scale, social support scale, life satisfaction scale and competence scale.

3.3 Cultural sensitivity

Chen and Starosta (1997) [55] in their "review of the concept of intercultural sensitivity" identified the following components:

  • Self-esteem. It is based on “one's perception of how ell on can develop his or potential in a social environment (Borden, 1991).” (p.7). Persons with hight self-esteems seem have an optimistic outlook that instils confident in interaction with others.
  • self-monitoring: “a person's ability to regulated behaviour in response to situational constraints” (p.8)
  • open-mindedness: “willingness of individuals to openly and appropriately explain themselves and to accept other's explanations” (p.8)
  • Empathy: project oneself into another person, step into another person's shoes.
  • Interaction involvement: ability to perceive the topic and situation, comprised of responsiveness, perceptiveness, and attentiveness
  • Suspending judgement: being able to sincerely listen to others during intercultural communication.

Chen and Starosta cultural sensitivity from interculturual awareness and interculturual competence. Cultural sensitivity, according to the authors, mainly deals with affect. Intercultural awareness is based on cognition and is a pre-condition for intercultural sensitivity. Intercultrual sensitivity then can lead to intercultural competence, i.e. appropriate behavior.

 Intercultural awareness -> Intercultural sensitivity -> Intercultural behavior

In that sense, “intercultural sensitivity can be conceptualized as "an individual's ability to develop a positive emotion towards understanding and appreciating cultural difference that promotes appropriate and effective behavior in intercultural communication"” (Chen and Starosta, 1997:5). That definition implies that an interculturally sensitive persons “must have a desire to motivate themselves to understand, appreciate, and accept differences among cultures, and to produce a positive outcome form intercultural interactions.”

Furthermore cultural sensitivity is tied to cultural metacognition. Chiu et al (2013), in the introduction to a special issue of cross-cultural psychology [1] state that “current research on cultural competence focuses on sensitivity to cross-cultural differences and the ability to adapt to other cultural environments (e.g., Hansen, Pepitone-Arreola-Rockwell, & Greene, 2000 [56]), or reflective awareness of cultural influences on one’s thoughts and behaviors (Chao, Okazaki, & Hong, 2011) [57].

3.4 Cultural development

Cultural development theories understand cultural competence as something that has to be developed in stages. Most often the stages include at early stages cultural knowledge and awareness, followed by cultural sensitivity and ending with cultural competency as "knowing in action". Change can be a function of experience, personal growth, training, etc.

Wells (2000), [58] summarizes several models and then presents her own that we shall present below.

The Cultural Competence Continuum (Cross, Bazron, Dennis, and Isaac, 1989) includes six stages ranging from cultural destructiveness (attitudes and behaviors that have a damaging or destructive effect on people of other cultures) to cultural proficiency (extension of cultural competence to professional practice, teaching, and research). These stages have been summarized in Stages and Levels of Cultural Competency Development[59] as follows:

  1. Destructiveness: Attitudes, policies and practices destructive to other cultures; purposeful destruction and dehumanization of other cultures; assumption of cultural superiority; eradication of other cultures; or exploitation by dominant groups. The complete erosion of one's culture by contact with another is rare in today's society.
  2. Incapacity: Unintentional cultural destructiveness; a biased system, with a paternal attitude toward other groups; ignorance, fear of other groups and cultures; or discriminatory practices, lowering expectations and devaluing of groups.
  3. Blindness: The philosophy of being unbiased; the belief that culture, class or color makes no difference, and that traditionally used approaches are universally applicable; a well-intentioned philosophy, but still an ethnocentric approach.
  4. Pre-Competence: The realization of weaknesses in working with other cultures;implementation of training, assessment of needs, and use of diversity criteria when hired; desire for inclusion, commitment to civil rights; includes the danger of a false sense of accomplishment and tokenism.
  5. Competence: Acceptance and respect for differences; continual assessment of sensitivity to other cultures; expansion of knowledge; and hiring a diverse and unbiased staff.
  6. Proficiency: Cultures are held in high esteem; constant development of new approaches; seeking to add to knowledge base; advocates for cultural competency with all systems and organizations.

Bennett et al.'s (1986) well known Developmental Intercultural Competence Model includes six stages. It is based on the theoretical considerations and on fifteen years of teaching and training experience in intercultural communication with a wide range of students (Bennett, 1986:182) [60].

Bennett (1996) Developmental Intercultural Competence Model
  • A denial of difference when difference has not yet be encountered (ultimate ethnocentrism). A more common form is parochialism, i.e. people are aware that other cultures are different, but cannot see for example that Asian cultures are different in any way from one another. A third version can be attributed to seing others as sub-humans.
  • Defense of difference attempts “to counter perceived threat to the centrality of one's world view [...] the most common defense strategy is denigration of difference” (Bennett 1986:183), e.g. through negative stereotyping. Another version is cultural superiority, i.e. more evolved. An opposite form is "reversal", “assuming superiority of the host culture while denigrating one's own culture” (p. 183).
  • Minimzation is a “last-ditch attempt to preserve the centrality of one's own world view involves and attempt to "bury" difference under the weight of cultural similarities”. I.e. cultural difference is trivialized.
  • Acceptance: “Difference is perceived as fundamental, necessary, and preferable in human affairs.”. Differences are accepted but not evaluated. Bennett (1986:185) defines two levels of acceptance: First acceptance of behavioral difference (including language), second, of cultural value differences.
  • Adaptation relates to the ability to change processing of reality and its most common form is empathy which “involves a temporary shift in frame of reference such that one construes events "as if" one were the other person” (p.185). Another form is "cultural pluralism" (biculturality and multiculturality), i.e. the ability to shift into different world views. Cultural pluralism probably necessitates significant other-culture living experience.
  • Integration of difference is the application of ethnorelativism to one's own identity. This means not just be sensitive but being able to evaluate phenomena with respect to context “one who can construe differences as processes, who can adapt to those differences, and who can additionally construe him or herself in various cultural ways.”

The Cultural Sophistication Framework (Orlandi, 1992) has three stages: cultural incompetence, cultural sensitivity, and cultural competence. Each stage consists of four dimensions: cognitive, affective, skills, and overall effect.

The Cultural Competent Model of Care (Campinha-Bacote, Yahle, and Langenkamp, 1996) is process oriented and includes cultural awareness, cultural knowledge, and cultural encounter.

Her own CDM model, applied to the health domain, includes six stages and includes a cognitive phase and an affective phase.

Cultural development model- Wells (2000)
Cognitive PhaseAffective Phase
Cultural IncompetenceCultural KnowledgeCultural AwarenessCultural SensitivityCultural CompetenceCultural Proficiency
A lack of knowledge of the cultural implications of health behavior Learning the elements of culture and their role in shaping and defining health behavior Recognizing and understanding the cultural implications of health behavior The integration of cultural knowledge and awareness into individual and institutional behavior The routine application of culturally appropriate health care interventions and practices The integration of cultural competence into the culture of the organization and into professional practice, teaching, and research. Mastery of the cognitive and affective phases of cultural development.

Wells (200), [58] argues that “cultural awareness, cultural sensitivity, and cultural competence do not achieve the level of cultural development necessary to meet the health care needs of a diverse population” and she defines barriers to cultural development: “The primary barrier to progression, ultimately change toward cultural proficiency, is the unwillingness of individuals and institutions to unearth, examine, and shed light on their underlying assumptions about people whose cultures differ from their own. These underlying assumptions are often undiscussed, unconscious, and unexamined. However, they define, shape, and prescribe individual and organizational behavior in relation to cultural diversity (Thomas, 1991)[61].”

In more simple terms, she seems to argue that learning about other cultures and appropriate behavior does not automatically lead to transfer to practice (behavioural change). A main strategy to achieve cultural proficiency is more practice under mentorship of someone that is culturally proficient.

Papadopoulos, Tilki and Taylor (1988) proposed a similar model, also for the health care area [62] Model for Developing Cultural Competence.

Cultural competence development model. Papadopoulos, Tilki and Taylor (1988)

This model for Developing Cultural Competence comprises four stages. The description below is adapted and shortened from IENE project, retrieved March 16 2016)

  • The first stage is cultural awareness, which begins with an examination of our personal value base and beliefs.
  • Cultural knowledge is the second stage and can be gained in a number of ways. Meaningful contact with people from different ethnic groups can enhance knowledge around their beliefs and behaviours as well as raise understanding around the problems they face. In addition one could read sociological or anthropological studies.
  • The third stage is achieving cultural sensitivity, i.e. how people are viewed. Dalrymple and Burke (1995) [63] have stated that unless clients are considered as true partners, culturally sensitive care is not being achieved. Equal partnerships involve trust, acceptance and respect as well as facilitation and negotiation.
  • The fourth stage, cultural competence requires the synthesis and application of previously gained awareness, knowledge and sensitivity. Further focus is given to practical skills such as assessment of needs, clinical diagnosis and other caring skills.

Kim (2008) [64] makes a case for "intercultural personhood" that is based on systems theory. He argues that “through prolonged and cumulative intercultural communication experiences, individuals around the world can, and do, undergo a gradual process of intercultural evolution. The emerging intercultural personhood is characterized by two interrelated key patterns in self-other orientation: individuation and universalization.”

Liu and Gallois (2014) [65] confront the universalistic psychological theory with particularistic perspective of intercultural communication. Research in both traditions look at "stress" and intercultural contact, psychologist identify acculturation rather as a "disease" due to culture clash and to be resolved whereas intercultural theories rather view it as trigger of intercultural growth and transformation. Both perspectives have their merits. “Culture influences the perceptions, construals, thoughts, feelings and behaviours of its members. The specific contents of culture are influenced by individual level processes that govern the contents of communication” (p. 10).

Development also can be conceptualized as an adjustment problem as we shall discuss now.

3.5 Cultural adjustment and culture shock

Authors investigating adjustement and "culture shock" and suggest a model where development is not linear progress.

Berado (2012), [66] defines four R's of culture change, cultural adjustment model that identifies five key changes: routines, reactions, roles, relationships and reflections about oneself that we face when we move across cultures.

  • Routines are different for many things
  • Reactions one receives for doing something can change. Ways people work and interact are different.
  • One's roles in a different culture are not the same (e.g. being a "foreigner")
  • Relationships will change, firstly with expats but then there will be new and new types of relationships
  • Reflections about oneself change as certain habits are picked up or we start thinking explicitly vlaues (evolving and devolving)

Change can lead to culture shock at some stage. One type of the developmental models associated with "culture shock" takes the form of a "U" curve. Lysgaard (1955)[67] defined a U-curve model: Honeymoon, culture shock, recovery and adjustment. Gullahorn and Gullahorn (1963) [68] describe the mechanics of a U-curve as follows: “Initially the sojourners report feelings of elation and optimism associated with positive expectations regarding interaction with their hosts. As they actually become involved in role relationships and encounter frustrations in trying to achieve certain goals when the proper means are unclear or unacceptable, they become confused and depressed and express negative attitudes regarding the host culture. If they are able to resolve the difficulties encountered during this crucial phase of the acculturation process they then achieve a modus vivendi enabling them to work effectively and to interact positively with their hosts.”. Adjustement periods are variable, but the authors suggest over a one 1-year period (p.46).

Bullahorn and Gullahorn then also address reacculturation experiences (people returning home) that are shaped in "W" form, i.e. two joinded "U"s. “Some see a “U-curve”, with a steady depression that plateaus after a year or two, then steadily gets better as one adjust to life under different ground rules. Others see a “J-curve” with things turning sour soon after arrival in another culture, but improving steadily once you are over the hump. Some take about a “W-curve”, which is really two U-curves, with the second U referring to problems the sojourner often experiences when reentering his or her home culture.” (Dongfeng 2012:71 [69])

Lewis and Jungman (1986) [70], according to Dongfeng (2012)[69] identify: a. the preliminary stage (events that occur before departure); b. the spectator phase (the initial weeks or months of living in another culture); c. the increasing participation phase; d. the shock phase; e. the adaptation phase; and f. the reentry into home culture. Pedersen, in the five stages of culture shock [71] presented a similar model: honeymoon stage, disintegration stage, reintegration stage, autonomy stage and interdependence stage.

Black and Mendenhall (1991) [72] argue that the U-curve adjustment model may not be universal. Coleen Ward (1998) [73] conducted a longitudinal study and found that “neither the results from this study nor the findings from other longitudinal investigations of cross-cultural transition lend substantial support to the U-curve model of sojourner adjustment.”. For example, the authors found that “In the first instance and in contrast to Lysgaard’s cross-sectional research, no evidence was found to suggest that psychological adjustment is better in the first six months compared to the 6–12 month period; in fact, elevated levels of depression occurred in conjunction with students’ overseas arrival. Secondly, with respect to Oberg’s model, there is no support for a euphoric ‘‘honeymoon’’ stage of entry to a new country. Psychological distress, rather than euphoria, appeared to characterize entry to a foreign milieu.”. The authors rather found a positive relationship of psychological and sociocultural adjustment over time. This relationship is hypothesized to be stronger the more enmeshed with the foreign culture the sojourners are.

Other "curve" models exist, e.g. below be present a "W-curve" found in a culture shock page made for "study abroad" students. However, we don't know if it is based on any empirical evidence and given Ward's rejection of the "U"-curve model, it is very likely that the "W" model is not realistic.

Cultural adjustment curve. Source: Davidson college

Overall, the literature provides mixed support for "curve" models. According to Dongfeng (2012:72) [69], although the U-curve and W-curve charts to illustrate the pattern of progression or phases of the disease are being criticized, the stage theory is generally accepted by most researchers. In other words, most researchers believe that adjustment to a different culture goes through a series of stages that can be related to entering a disease and recovering from it.

Mark et al. (1999) [74] identify a number of psychosocial barriers to developing social competence in a different culture, including lack of coaching and practice opportunities, cross-cultural interpersonal anxiety, threat to the newcomers original cultural identity, and various personal factors.

Other authors, starting with Adler (1975) [75] believe that “culture shock is a process of intercultural learning, leading to greater self-awareness and personal growth. Adler (1991) considers culture shock a normal and natural growth or transition process as we adapt to another culture. (Dongfeng 2012:71 [69]). Also Berry et al. (1992) [76] puts more emphasis on difficulties that can be overcome.”. Chang (2009) [77] found that cultural shocks help enhance expatriate workers' awareness of their existing schemas.

Sam and Berry (2010) [43] state that “two variations in adaptation have been identified, involving psychological well-being and sociocultural competence. One important finding is that there are relationships between how individuals acculturate and how well they adapt: Often those who integrate (defined as being engaged in both their heritage culture and in the larger society) are better adapted than those who acculturate by orienting themselves to one or the other culture (by way of assimilation or separation) or to neither culture (marginalization).”

3.6 Acculturative stress in refugees

While normal immigrants leave their country in order to experience a better economic or social well-being, refugees primarily seek security and may face more challenges than other migrants or sojourners. [78] [79] [80]

According to Yako (2014), [81], research found that being part of a social group of family, friends, and coreligionists was found to be helpful in combating acculturative stress in addition to being able to pursue religious practice. In other words, some kind of integration model as opposed to an assimilation model is suggested to be more successful. However, in order to make integration happen, cultural adjustments have to made, first among these is becoming fluent in the language of the host culture. In Yako and Biswas' study on Iraki immigrants in the US, acculturative stress was measured both with in-depth interviews and a quantitative scale. The latter used the following types of items items: “adaptation to US culture, western food, different housing, bringing up children in the US and teaching them values of the native culture, efforts made to learn English language and teach the same to children, attempts at wearing both native and western clothes, and adaptation to stress caused by a new culture.”. Items of these 10 dimensions were measured with a Likert type scale ranging from very easy to easy = 1, average = 2 and difficult to very difficult = 3.

Interestingly, “respondents who reported higher satisfaction with their past social life in Iraq reported almost 47% increased likelihood of reporting high acculturative stress.” in addition to confirmed positive influence of family support and having the ability to pursue religion. The qualitative analysis found that being in unsafe environment, not being able to exercise their professional skills, financial problems, and learning English were major items.

A study by [82] on Sudanese immigrants in Australia identified high cultural stress, i.e. not being able to manage simple daily matters. They suggest “a necessity for the relocated South Sudanese to adopt some features of the Australian culture, while retaining positive values, traditions and behaviors of their original culture.” and that “resettlement in the host society require[s] the new community to manage their daily matters with the help of new living and communication skills.”. Participants interviews suggest that refugees of any culture require more comprehensive orientation programs on arrival and that both immigrants and natives should participate and that more experienced migrants from the same culture should help newcomers in their homes. “This initiative would result in a form of social networking, which alone is beneficial in reducing acculturation stress following resettlement”

3.7 Cultural and cross-cultural psychology

Researchers in cross-cultural psychology are mainly interested in two domains: (1) compare similarities and differences across cultures and (2) psychological adaptations individuals make when they move across cultures. (Berry, 1989?).

Triandis (1996:abstract) [83] “An examination of a range of definitions of culture indicates that almost all researchers agree that culture is reflected in shared cognitions, standard operating procedures, and unexamined assumptions. Cultural syndromes consist of shared shared attitudes, beliefs, norms, role and self definitions, and values of members of each culture that are organized around a theme.”

Cultural psychology, after the rise of cognitivism, seems to have become a somewhat forgotten science in some parts of the world (Allolio-Näcke, 2005)[84]. On the other hand, cultural dimensions are central to ethnology, anthropology, (cognitive) linguistics, literature critique, etc., i.e. disciplines that put emphasis on "sense" and "meaning". That being said, the well respected Journal of cross-cultural psychology exists since 1970 and continues to publish interdisciplinary articles on cultural competence from psychologists, sociologists, and other researchers who study the relations between culture and behavior.

According to Doris Weidemann (2001)[85] , “investigation of intercultural interactions has demonstrated that individual psychological processes show distinct cultural patterns and, more important, that communication across cultural gaps often meets with difficulties.” She also adds, that “Communication across cultural divides is usually described as difficult and often results in misunderstandings and failure to achieve individual or even common goals. This is especially true for persons transferring to a different cultural context, as overseas students, expatriate managers or immigrants do, and adaptation to the new cultural environment can be frustrating and painful.”

In that context, literacies (not just cultural ones) cannot be compared in an abstract way or with respect to one culture, but rather as a predictor for a successful life in a given culture. This principle applies for example when comparing school systems. “Nur in dem Falle, "dass innerhalb eines jeden Landes, die erfassten Kompetenzen zur Vorhersage einer erfolgreichen Lebensführung beitragen", könnte das literacy-Konzept als tertium comparationis fungieren. In vielen Ländern aber spielt es keine bzw. nur eine untergeordnete Rolle, so dass "der Ausgang einer solchen Validitätsprüfung wahrscheinlich zu einer kulturellen Gruppierung der Funktionalität der Grundkompetenzen führen wird";” (Hermann-Günter Hesse, cited by Allolio-Näcke, 2005).

3.8 Cognitive information processing theories

A different school of thought is interested in the cognitive structures that can explain cultural competence, e.g. intercultural communication or adaptation. For example, Chang (2009) [77] argues that “A deeper examination of the cognitive and psychological processes is necessary to develop a thorough understanding of how people respond to various new stimuli in order to adjust to different cultures”.

Nishida (1999) [86] [87] developed a model that is based on schema theory and which is related to former work, e.g. on situational prototypes [88] and that we shall introduce in a chapter below.

The study by Chang (2009) [77] led to a model of schema adjustment: “Cross-cultural incidents are filtered by the existing schema. Some stimuli may cause cultural shocks and enhance the individuals’ awareness regarding their own mental framework. In addition, some cultural shocks may seriously challenge sojourners’ existing schemas and create mental tension, which leads to the reopening of a mental dialogue. During the process, collecting information with respect to the perspectives of culturally relevant others in the community is critical, so that their directions of adjustment can be more clearly guided.”

Chang (2009) Cross-cultural incidents and schema adjustment

The Chang (2009) study used semi-structured interviews and 4-day observations. “To explore the schema aspect of their cross-cultural experiences, this study utilized critical incident analysis to understand their reactions, decisions, and changes when they handled complex or confusing problems”. Critical incidents could be both negative or positive and interview questions included questions about their jobs, tasks and work experience, difficulties met, strategies used, rewards, most frustrating situation, unforgettable incident, etc. Analysis of the transcriptions identified four important “four important components that help to move the schema during intercultural encounters. [..] schema awareness, mental tension, mental dialogue and culturally relevant others”.

3.9 Cultural metacognition

According to Chiu (2013), [1], “cultural metacognition refers to awareness of the distribution of cultural knowledge and its sources within and across cultures. Two components of cultural metacognition are (a) knowledge of the distribution of knowledge within and across cultures and (b) higher mental processes involved in acquiring accurate knowledge of culture. Cultural metacognition is predictive of cross-culturally competent behaviors and outcomes because cultural knowledge is not distributed evenly within cultural groups (Chiu & Hong, 2005; Sperber, 1996). Cross-culturally competent individuals are those who proactively use their metaknowledge of cultures to manage divergent demands, further their further their personal goals, and create a personal niche in multicultural situations (Chiu & Hong, 2005).”

Metacognition is often measure by self-reporting scales, e.g. the metacognitive subscale of the SQS. However, this may not be reliable since participants may have a tendency to want to appear being meta-cognitive. Alternative methods include behavioral instruments [89]thinking aloud experiments [90].

Metacognition can work in concert with other constructs that influence building models of one's own and other cultures. For example, Hong, Fang, Yang, and Phua (2013) [91] have shown that people attach emotional significance to these models and that students who associate emotional security with the respective cultures experience less acculturation stress.

3.10 Cultural intelligence

Cultural intelligence (Ang & Van Dyne: 2008; Livermore: 2009)[92] [93] is a way of looking at cross-cultural competence and is developed in the business and military community with the support of researchers that have a background in cultural psychology. Cultural intelligence is also known as cultural quotient (CQ) in analogy to the Intelligent quotient (IQ). It is the ability to cope with other cultures.

Ang et al. (2007) [94] define a cultural competence/Cultural Intelligence Scale (CQS). Their definition of cross-cultural compentence includes four dimensions: "(1)Metacognitive CQ — conscious cultural awareness during intercultural interactions, (2) Cognitive CQ — knowledge of cultural norms, practices, and conventions, (3) Motivational CQ — attention and energy toward cultural differences, and (4) Behavioral CQ - ability to act appropriately during intercultural interactions in terms of verbal and nonverbal behavior (Cronbach's alpha = .88, .91, .84, and .88 respectively). Higher scores indicate greater CQ on each subscale." (Goldstein & Keller: 2015)

Earley and Mosakowsky (2004) define cultural intelligence [95] as someone's “natural ability to interpret someone's unfamiliar and ambiguous gestures in just the way that person's compatriots and colleagues would, even to mirror them.”. The authors distinguish three components: Cognitive CQ (head), Physical CQ (body) and Emotional/motivational CQ (heart).

Cultural intelligence seems to be natural to some people but can be effectively trained and measured, e.g. Earley and Mosakowsky suggest six steps. The first step is using Cultural competence/cultural intelligence self-assessment instrument that includes 12 items. This instrument also allowed identifying six different profiles:

  • the provincial: effective in his original environment, cannot adjust to other cultures
  • The analyst: “methodically deciphers a foreign culture’s rules and expectations by resorting to a variety of elaborate learning strategies.”
  • The natural: relies entirely on his intuition rather than on a systematic learning style.
  • The ambassador, the most common type among international managers, can make believe that he "belongs" but understands his/her limits.
  • The mimic “has a high degree of control over his actions and behavior, if not a great deal of insight into the significance of the cultural cues he picks up.”
  • The chameleon “possesses high levels of all three CQ components and is a very uncommon managerial type.”

3.11 Cultural contexts, environment, network

Most cultural competence theories seem to focus on the individual, e.g. personality traits or learned skills. Hammer, Nishida and Wiseman (1996) [88] point out that “variation in human behavior can be accounted for most powerfully by examining the interaction of individual-level variables and situational factors. Situational factors have been posited to have a significant impact on intercultural communication.”. The authors review research on different situational factors that affect interpersonal communication and identified ten factors as being salient for intercultural communication competence: intimacy, friendliness, pleasantness, equality in power, anxiousness, involvement, equality in status, competitiveness, task/social orientation and formality.

Hammer et al. (1996) describe two studies, one to to identify prototypes and the second to examine the influence of the identified situational prototypes on the intercultural communication competence. 44 situations defining a cultural misunderstanding regarding the communication rules between Japanese and American cultures were created. These items were rated with 10 bipolar semantic differential scales corresponding to the ten factors above. A four cluster solution was found and a factor analysis allowed to group variables from the 10 differential scales into underlying constructs of friendliness, intimacy and dominance (we wonder though why the authors didn't perform a simple two way cluster analysis)

  1. Competitive/task: lowest level of friendliness and intimacy, high level of dominance
  2. Personal/social: high degree of friendliness and intimacy and low degree of dominance.
  3. Acquaintance/social: moderately high level of friendliness and intimacy and moderately low level of dominance
  4. Impersonal/task: moderately low level of friendliness and intimacy and moderately high level of dominance.

In the second phase subjects had to read five scenarios each and reply to open-ended questions. Significant difference were found among the four situational prototypes with respect to three dimensions of inter-cultural communication competence, i.e. understanding of Japanese rules for behaving in specific situations, Japanese culture in general, favorableness of impression toward Japanese culture. The authors theorize then for example that situations that are seen as conflicting or adversarial may activate defensive information processing scripts that interfere with cultural competence development. On the other hand situations that involved a higher degree of friendliness and intimacy and a lower degree of dominance appeared to facilitate intercultural understanding (p. 279).

Mao and Shen (2015) [96] “explore relational patterns of expatriates’ social networks and their impact on expatriates’ change in cultural identity while working abroad”. In the conclusion of their literature review, they state that “Existing literature sees individual differences and the social–cultural environment as the most critical in determining expatriates’ culture adaptation and in turn cultural identity change (e.g. Cox, 2004 [97]; Sussman, 2000, 2001).” [98] and “We argue that expatriates’ close social circles have a more direct impact on their cultural identity transitions. Although expatriates have limited abilities in affecting the bigger social–cultural environment, they can play a more active role in shaping their own social environment by including or excluding social relationships.”

3.12 Workplace diversity and international business

See also other sections, in particular the ones about assessment.

4 Simple models of cultural difference

Models of cultural difference are popular in management and management education since corporations do have to deal with different cultures.

4.1 Triadis (1966

Triadis [99] , worked on "cultural syndroms". These are defined as patterns of of shared attitudes, beliefs, categorizations, self-definitions, norms, role definitions, and values that is organized around a theme that can be identified among those who speak a particular language, during a specific historic period, and in a definable geographic region. Examples identified in the 1966 article are:

  • Tightness: Some cultures have many norms that are tightly applied as opposed to those who have few norms and that are loosely applied. Norms are situational, i.e. applied to certain domains, however, there also is an overall density of norms
  • Cultural complexity: The number of different cultural elements can vary a lot, e.g. hunters and gatherers identify 20 "job" roles and information societies have hundreds of thousands.
  • Active-passive: first described by Diaz-Guerrero (1967), “includes a number of active (e.g., competition, action, and self-fulfillment) and passive (e.g., reflective thought, leave the initiative to others, and cooperation) elements.”
  • Collectivism: The self is described as an aspect of a collective entity and personal goals are subordinated to collective goals. Social behavior is ruled by norms, duties and obligations.
  • Individualism: “The self is defined as independent and autonomous from collectives. Personal goals are given priority over the goals of collectives”
  • Vertical and horizontal relationships: In some cultures hierarchy is very important, including within groups.

At the time of writing, Triadis, stated that “The number of syndromes for an adequate description of cultural differences is at this time unknown. It s hoped that a dozen or a score of syndromes, to be identified in the future, will account for most of the interesting, reliable cultural differences. There is also the problem that syndromes are somewhat related to each other. For example, tight, passive, simple cultures are likely to be more collectivist; loose, active, complex cultures are likely to be more individualistic. The higher these correlations, the less does any one syndrome provide independent information about cultural differences”. “Collectivism is maximal when a society is low in complexity and tight; individualism is maximal when a society is complex and loose” (p. 412)

Syndroms like individualism and collectivism can be defined by underlying attributes. Triadis (1995) suggests the meaning of self, the structure of goals, the function of norms and attributes to define behaviour, focus on the needs of the ingroup or social exchange. Moreover he identified about 60 attributes in total found in collectivist of individualist cultures.

Individualism and collectivism are relative and manifest in all cultures. In addition these traits appear combined with horizontalism and verticalism. {{quotation|Tt is possible to identify attitude items that measure horizontal-vertical, collectivism-individualism (Singelis,Triandis, Bhawuk, & Gelfand, 1995). “The use of a particular pattern is likely to be culture-specific. Thus, in a specific culture, in some situations, people will be vertical collectivists (VC), in others, vertical individualists (VI); in some situations people may be horizontal collectivists (HC), and in others, horizontal individualists (HI).” From these tendencies one can construct profiles and distribution of scores within a culture could define it.

4.2 Hampden Turner and Trompenaars (1993)

According to Darlene Brannigan Smith et al. in the Seven Cultures of Capitalism, Hampden Turner and Trompenaars (1993:11) suggest that different countries champion different value propositions for creating effective organization.

  • Universalism (call for universally applicable law and order) vs. particularism (allow for personal indulgence and idiosyncrasies),
  • anlyzing (demand for facts and attention purely on the bottom line) vs. integrating (viewing everything within the context),
  • individualism (applaud individuals for singular performance) vs. communitarianism (organization, groups and community above else),
  • inner directed (self-starter) vs. outer-directed (approaching groupthink) orientation,
  • time as sequence (time is money) vs. time as synchronization (all for one),
  • achieved status (working hard to achieve) vs. ascribed status (status because of power), and
  • equality (all get an even break) vs. hierarchy (some people are more important because of their hierarchical authority).

4.3 Inglehart and Welzel

Inglehart and Welzel identify two major dimensions of cross cultural variation in the world:

  • Traditional values versus Secular-rational values and
  • Survival values versus Self-expression values.

Using data from the World values survey, the authors created a well-known cultural map of the world where positions with respect to these two dimensions are overlayed with "nominal" criteria (e.g. religion, or geography). The map below is a modified version of the original made for Wikipedia by an unknown author.

Inglehart–Welzel values map (source: Wikipedia)

4.4 Hofstede

Hofstede distinguishes five or six dimensions of national cultures. Each of these is defined by a list of criteria. Hofstede (2011) [100], summaries these dimensions:

1. Power Distance, related to the different solutions to the basic problem of human inequality;

2. Uncertainty Avoidance, related to the level of stress in a society in the face of an unknown future;

3. Individualism versus Collectivism, related to the integration of individuals into primary groups;

4. Masculinity versus Femininity, related to the division of emotional roles between women and men;

5. Long Term versus Short Term Orientation, related to the choice of focus for people's efforts: the future or the present and past.

6. Indulgence versus Restraint, related to the gratification versus control of basic human desires related to enjoying life.

Wikipedia, based on Hofstede (2011) [100] provides a nice summary.

National cultures are not identical to organizational or individual cultures. E.g. within a same town one can find companies that adopt a very different organizational-cultural model. The same is true for individuals. However, national (or even supra-national) cultures doe influence organizational and individual ones.

4.5 Nishida

Nishida (1999) [86] does not present a theory of differences, but a model of underlying schemas that could be used to create more formal descriptions. The author identifies eight primary types of schemas that are central to human social interactions. Schemas are “collections of knowledge of past experiences which are organized into related knowledge groups and are used to guide our behaviors in familiar situations” (p. 755).

Summary of the Primary Social Interaction (PSI) Schemas (Nishida, 1999)
Schema type Knowledge about...
Fact-and-concept schemas general information about facts
Person schemas different types of people and their traits, related to representations we have about traits
Self schemas ... themselves (i.e., how they see themselves and how others see them)
Role schemas social roles which denote sets of behaviors that are expected of people in particular social positions
Context schemas information about the situation and appropriate setting of behavioral parameters
Procedure schemas appropriate sequence of events in common situations
Strategy schemas problem-solving strategies
Emotion schemas affect and evaluation stored in long-term memory which is accessed when other schemas are activate

The author then presents a series of axioms that represent both the (then) current state of the art in schema research (in particular in symbolic artificial intelligence) and its application to cultural competence theory.

11 axioms of Axiom 11 (verbatim):

1. The more often a person repeats a schema-based behavior, the more likely the schema will be stored in the person’s memory.

2. Sojourners’ failure to recognize the actions and behaviors which are relevant to meaningful interactions in the host culture are mainly due to their lack of the PSI schemas of the culture.

3. Acquisition of the PSI schemas of the host culture is a necessary condition for sojourners’ cross-cultural adaptation to the culture.

4. Fact-and-concept, person, self, role, context, procedure, strategy, and emotion schemas (the PSI schemas) are interrelated each other, forming a network of schemas, to generate behavior. A change in one schema causes changes in all the other schemas and finally in the total system (i.e., in behavior).

5. Acquisition of information about interrelationships among the PSI schemas of the host culture is a necessary condition for sojourners’ cross-cultural adaptation.

6. People use both schema-driven and data-driven processing to perceive new information, depending on the situation and their motivations.

7. If one has well-organized schemas, schematically salient information is more likely to be processed through the schemas, whereas ambiguous information will either direct a search for the relevant data to complete the stimulus more fully, or it will be filled in with default options of the schemas.

8. Sojourners who lack the PSI schemas of the host culture are more likely to employ data-driven processing which requires effort and attention.

9. When information is data-driven, a self schema plays an important role.

10. In the host culture, sojourners experience the stages of self-regulation and self-direction. In the stage of self-regulation, they try to resolve ambiguities and to establish integration of information using pre-existing schemas (their native-culture schemas) by gradually modifying them. In the stage of self-direction, on the other hand, they actively try to reorganize their native-culture schemas or to generate new schemas in order to adapt to the host culture environment.

11. In the host culture, sojourners’ initial experiences are manifested as cognitive uncertainty and anxiety because of their lack of the PSI schemas of the culture.

5 Instruments to measure cultural diversity and competence of individuals

There exist both quantitative and qualitative instruments. These instruments were created to learn about people's representations and not to assess cultural competence (whatever that means). Many researchers seems to agree that (at least for now) measuring cultural competence requires a mixed methods approach. Below we shall describe a few instruments that allow observing and systematizing cultures.

We shall present psychometric tools further below, in the Assessment of cultural competence chapter.

5.1 World Values Survey

According to Wikipedia, “The World Values Survey (WVS) is a global research project that explores people’s values and beliefs, how they change over time and what social and political impact they have. It is carried out by a worldwide network of social scientists who, since 1981, have conducted representative national surveys in almost 100 countries. The WVS measures, monitors and analyzes: support for democracy, tolerance of foreigners and ethnic minorities, support for gender equality, the role of religion and changing levels of religiosity, the impact of globalization, attitudes toward the environment, work, family, politics, national identity, culture, diversity, insecurity, and subjective well-being.”

The WVS started in 1981 and is now governed by the World Values Survey Association, based in Stockholm. The 6th wave started in 2008 and was finished in 2014, and the 7th is planned for 2017-2018.

5.2 Structure Formation Technique

Structure formation technique is a qualitative method that attemps to elicit representation structures.

Weideman's (2001) [101] study focuses on subjective theories hold by German Immigrants in Taiwan and that can be verbally explicated and reconstructed by way of dialogue between researcher and participant. The research method goes through the following steps:

  • A semi-standardized interview that will try to elicit the contents of the subjective theories
  • A visualization of the theory structure ,using representational rules of the Heidelberg structure formation technique, (Heidelberger Strukturlegetechnik, SCHEELE & GROEBEN, 1988)

Based on this Heidelberg structure formation technique, she developed a set of interview questions and rules for representing the theory.: “a differentiation was made according to the outcome of actions (face gained or face lost) and the person concerned (self or other).” The combination of these two dimensions will define four semantic fields, namely a) to lose face, b) to gain face, c) to hurt the other person's face, d) to give the other person face.

Results then can be represented graphically, for example like this:

Part of a subjective theory structure on "face" (reproduced from Weidemann, 2001)

5.3 Arts-Informed Research

Arts-informed research uses artistic productions to elicit representations.

Over the last decade, a growing number of social scientists have become interested in visual methodologies. On could distinguish between "researcher created", "respondent generated" and "found" visual data. Visual arts can be found in all three. [102]

Guruge et al. (2015) [103] describe an arts-informed technique “to understand the changes in refugee youth's roles and responsibilities in the family within the (re)settlement context in Canada. The study involved 57 newcomer youths from Afghan, Karen, or Sudanese communities in Toronto, who had come to Canada as refugees. The data collection method embedded a drawing activity within focus group discussions.”

This study also included eight refugee youth peer researchers from the three communities. In line with community-based participatory research principles, {{quotation|Peer researchers received three months of research training and were actively involved in paid capacity in all phases of the study, including research design, data collection, data analysis, and writing. Guruge et al. (2015:[14]) describe the elicitation process as follows:

Each participant was invited to draw two pictures:

  1. one depicting pre-migration roles and responsibilities,
  2. and the second depicting post-migration roles and responsibilities.
The participants were given flip chart paper and color pens, and 10 to 15 minutes to complete the activity. The drawings were then displayed on the walls around the room. Each participant was asked to briefly present her/his drawing to the group. Once all participants had their individual turns reflecting on and explaining their drawings to the group, the floor was open to all for reflection and clarification of the drawings within the group. This was followed by a semi-structured focus group discussion of roles and responsibilities in which participants were encouraged to refer to their drawings wherever appropriate. In a later part of the focus group discussion, the youths were also asked to list the services they had used and the services they needed on sticky notes, which were added to the flip chart drawings.

A key lesson learnt was that adequate time and opportunities must be given to participants to (1) create the drawings, (2) to interpret and discuss the drawings and (3) to complete or change the drawings as a result of group discussions. Facilitators must attempt to clarify and expand links between drawings and discussions.

According to the authors [paragraph 38], “The multiple data collection methods (i.e., drawings and individual reflections on them, and focus group discussions) we used in this study were complementary: the drawings provided unique insights into certain aspects of their lives. For example, the magnitude of the difference in youth's (built and natural) environments came up in the drawings that were not discussed in the focus groups. The sense of cohesion versus scattered and chaotic patterns in the drawings is also interesting. On the other hand, the focus group discussions provided unique information on other aspects of their lives, such as racism. In addition, the drawings also provided more contextual information that enriched the understanding gained from the focus groups.”

Before and after drawing by Participant 3 in the Afghan female 16-19 years focus group

Data analysis and interpretation involved several levels of analysis and was based on participant's own explanations:

  1. a reflective dialogue between each participant and his own drawing
  2. a group dialogue concerning all the drawings of the group
  3. reflections of the peer (refugee youth) researchers from each group in response to questions about (1) and (2) from the rest of the research team
  4. the research teams reflections across the three groups

A list of themes and supporting excerpts was finally established in the form of a table.

Somewhat similar research was conducted by Frey and Cross (2011) [104] on overcoming poor youth stigmatization and invisibility through art. Initially, a more traditional plan was to conduct interviews with various stakeholders, then creating focus groups, and finally a joint work on a common video to trigger dialogue with other actors. The team then found out the dramatization and video could (and did) have a more important role “We discovered that the inclusion of dramatization and video had three main effects: first, they favored the involvement of the young men and women; second, they allowed them to share their experiences, formerly blocked by stigmatization processes; third, they were a potent instrument to make their perspectives visible to other social actors concerned by this problematic (teachers, government officers, parents).” Frey and Cross (2011:69)

Tristan Bruslé's (2010) [105] research examines the place that Nepalese immigrant workers occupy in Qatar. Visual images, mainly photographs, are use as one of the research tools to illustrate the divided nature of society.

“I have tried to put forward the hypothesis that photographs are not just an illustration, but that social realities can indeed be understood through pictures. The building of places, from collective spaces to very private ones, clearly stands out in the pictures. The use of pictures to analyze social and spatial division in Qatar has enabled me to grasp some realities that I had either overlooked or not fully understood. While carrying out fieldwork, and particularly new fieldwork, the researcher is continually bombarded with a flow of information, making it at times difficult to focus on everything of interest. Pictures are therefore a way of focusing on detail, especially in a migrant's room, which might not necessarily have been studied while talking to migrants. Looking at pictures taken in an almost random way is also a way of reactivating one's memory. Distant places, emotions and memories come to life when perusing pictures. Things that were not first noticed when the photograph was actually taken, but were "discovered" thanks to a careful study and comparison of pictures, come across as important and make sense. A juxtaposition of scenes has helped me identify common points between places. Moreover, pictures have helped me show the different levels of spatial segregation, from the town to the migrant's bed. Images of walls and of physical separation may prove to be speaker louder than mere words in making the reader realize what segregation really is. Indeed, pictures can play the role of backing up research and be a valuable tool in that they convey large amounts of information that would sometimes be harder to explain verbally.” (Bruslé's, 2010, [29])

5.4 Map making

Having individuals draw maps of their environments can help to understand how their environment is structures in terms of various opportunities and social relations.

Olga den Besten (2010) [106] studied social and spatial divisions (urban segregation). Her study “explores children's and young people's experiences in two socially contrasted neighbourhoods in Berlin through subjective maps drawn by the children.”

“Children were asked to produce two maps: first, to draw their way home from school and all the objects that attracted their attention on the way. This task was chosen because all the children went to school, so the way home from school was their everyday, routine trajectory (see also ROSS, 2007). Coming back home from school was chosen because of the supposedly more relaxed, unhurried character of this trajectory and more opportunities for deviations from this way, like, for example, popping in to shops or playing in a park after classes. Second, the children were asked to draw their "neighbourhood" or "territory", i.e. a city area which they knew rather well and where they "felt at home". This drawing activity was done at school during one lesson.” (den Besten: 2010: [13]).

In addition, children were asked to place four types of emoticons on the maps: (1) A heart symbol to mark places they like, (2) a big dot for places where they hang out, (3) a cross inside a circle for places they disliked and (4) a square for places they fear.

Drawing 2b (by a Turkish boy aged 12 in Kreuzberg) shows his "way to school" with the school in the foreground, the building where he lives and a park that he likes, as well as a disco and a nightclub marked with the "emoticon" of dislike. Reproduced from den Besten (2010)[106]

Results showed that the children's socio-spatial worlds were different in the two segregated areas of the city. Generally, drawings from children of the advantaged area are comparatively more elaborated, show a larger space, more places for activities, a denser network of friends, and so forth. This also reflects the situation that advantaged children have more access to extra curricular activities and therefore for personal development.

6 Standards and instruments to measure cultural competence of organization and its members

The following standards and tools rather focus on organizations and are mostly self-evaluation tools to help reshape their policies and training. Overall, there roughly seem to be three types of individual competences:

  • The competence to understand oneself
  • The competence to understand another culture
  • The competence to intervene

6.1 Cultural competence self-assessment questionnaire

The Cultural competence self-assessment questionnaire (CCSAQ) Mason (1995), [107] is designed to help health agencies cope with cultural difference, i.e. to assess their need for cultural competence training.

“In response to the growing body of literature promoting culturally competent systems of care, the Portland Research and Training Center developed the Cultural Competence Self-Assessment Questionnaire (CCSAQ). The CCSAQ is based on the Child and Adolescent Service System Program (CASSP) Cultural Competence Model (Cross, et al., 1989). This model describes competency in terms of four dimensions: attitude, practice, policy, and structure. The instrument helps child- and family-serving agencies assess their cross-cultural strengths and weaknesses in order to design specific training activities or interventions that promote greater competence across cultures” (Mason: 1995).

This manual publishes two variants of the questionnaire. One for assessing cultural competence training needs of mental health and human service professionals and the other to assess cultural competence training needs of human services organizations and staff.

6.2 TOCAR Collaborative Campus and Community Climate Survey for Students

The TOCAR Collaborative Campus and Community Climate Survey forStudents includes 25 questions and was made by Training Our Campuses Against Racism' (TOCAR) chapters at North Dakota State University, Concordia College, Minnesota State Community and Technical College, and Minnesota State University Moorhead.

6.3 The Cultural Competence Assessment Tool (CCAT)

The Cultural Competence Assessment Tool (CCAT), made by the Boston Public Health Commission is an answer to the 2001 United States Department of Health and Human Services Office ofMinority Health (OMH) issued National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in Health Care (CLAS).

“The Cultural Competence Assessment Tool (CCAT) contains three sections – each focuses on a key component in the provision of culturally competent health care. [...] The first section of the tool assesses organizational cultural competence in health care leadership, staffing, and community involvement. The second section assesses cultural competence in the institution’s delivery of health care. The third section assesses cross-cultural communication at the institution” (Cultural Competence Assessment Tool).

6.4 Cultural competence Checklist: Personal reflection

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (2010) [108] created a one-page checklist that was developed to “o heighten your awareness of how you view clients/patients from culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) populations.”

6.5 Quality and culture quiz

Quality and Culture Quiz is a self-evaluation quiz that targets members of the health community.

6.6 The Cultural and Linguistic Competence Family Organization Assessment (CLCFOA)

Made by the National Center for Cultural Competence, the The Cultural and Linguistic Competence Family Organization Assessment (CLCFPA) survey was made to help family organizations concerned with children and youth disorders and disabilities. It requires approximately 20-30 minutes to complete. It consists of four sections: Our World View, Who We Are, What We Do, and How We Work. As several others of its kind, this survey helps to identify an organizational culture.

7 Teaching cultural competence

Teaching cultural competence is addressed in many different ways and for different purposes and appears under different names, e.g. cultural competence training, cross-cultural competence training, transcultural competence training, intercultural competence training, cultural diversity training, cultural intelligence training, cross-cultural training, etc.

Dongfeng (2012:73) [69], analysing studies on culture shock, identifies four implications for cross-cultural training:

  • Sojourners should learn what governs encountered behavior and that is (mostly) internal and hidden. In other words, teaching simple overt and descriptive facts and skills should be completed (or replaced) with analytical or interpretive know-how.
  • Since breakdown is one of the major causes of culture shock, sojourners must understand the (cross-cultural) communication process and understand how to deal with the parts and the links of a breakdown.
  • Cultural adaptation should be first directed toward integration and process, focusing on both partners ("us" instead of "them") as opposed to learning cultural-specific finesse directly or first.
  • Exercises should be experiential or participatory. In addition (p. 73), “goal of training is that each sojourner assumes the responsibility of developing his or her own strategies for cross-cultural adjustment and communication. A trainer should provide the conceptual frameworks for understanding as well as the opportunities to apply them in a participatory manner. Experiential exercises can include contrast-culture games or other contrast-culture simulation exercises. The major goal of the excises is not to enable the participants to fully understand another specific culture but rather to help them develop strategies for understanding any other culture they might encounter and to examine their reactions to the stresses of cross-cultural communication and interaction”.

Matsumoto & Hwang (2013) [42], in a review of tests to measure cross-cultural competence, identify two categories of desirable outcomes, adaptation and adjustment. “Adaptation is the process of altering one’s behavior in response to the environment, circumstances, or social pressure. [..] Adjustment refers to the subjective experiences associated with adaptation, and may be assessed by mood states, self-esteem, self-awareness, physical health, self-confidence, stress, psychological and psychosomatic concerns, early return to one’s home country, dysfunctional communication, culture shock, depression, anxiety, diminished school and work performance, and difficulties in interpersonal relationships.” Matsumoto & Hwang (2013:850)

According to Chen and Starosta (1997), [55], intercultural training programs include "T-groups," critical incidents, case studies, role playing, and cultural orientation programs.

Cultural competence education aims to help people build relations and also work on attitudes and knowledge. In the literature, there seems to an emphasis on "learning how to learn", "becoming open-minded", etc. as opposed to learning measurable traits. For example, a meta study by Beach et al. (2005) [109] shows that “Cultural competence training shows promise as a strategy for improving the knowledge, attitudes, and skills of health professionals. However, evidence that it improves patient adherence to therapy, health outcomes, and equity of services across racial and ethnic groups is lacking. Future research should focus on these outcomes and should determine which teaching methods and content are most effective.” That being said, we believe that acquiring such rather metacognitive skills does require some knowledge, attitudes and skills bases.

A lot of the research and practical literature concerns the three areas we identified already: Health, international business and higher education.

  • In business, there seems to be a focus on acquiring "cultural intelligence" or at least improve over some "baseline test". The goal is become a good negotiator or a good manager that has sufficient insight into another culture to behave efficiently and appropriately.
  • In the health sector, there is more emphasis on changing the whole mindset of health personnel and organizations. “Three major conceptual approaches have emerged for teaching cultural competence, focusing on knowledge, attitudes, and skills, respectively” (Betancourt (2003)[110] cited by Kripalani (2006) [111]
  • In higher education, there is emphasis on preparing students for studies abroad or receiving students. Other concerns are dealing with (marginalized) minorities or running international campuses or franchises. It is also argued that cross-cultural communication competence training should be integrated with language training (e.g. Guo & Sun, 2013) [112]
  • A recent addition concerns the military, e.g. the Defense Language Office Framework for Cultural Competence (Gabrenya et al., 2011). [7]

Matsumoto (2002), a cross-cultural psychologist, [113] argues that the study of culture itself contributes to our understanding of human behavior and mental processes. A good example is his "psychological engine" of adjustment". Using the Intercultural Adjustment Potential Scale (ICAPS) he identifies six fundamental skills:

  1. Emotion regulation
  2. Openness
  3. Flexibility
  4. Creativity
  5. Critical thinking
  6. Autonomy

Teaching intecultural competence then would imply that learners be put in a situation where they could exercise such skills. "Emotion regulation" seems to be the most important component.

Determining how cultural competence should be taught also requires understanding how it is learned. Since cultural competence is a complex soft skill that involves knowledge, attitudes, skills and problem solving skills, this is not easy. For example, Bennett (1986:189) [60] argues that intercultural competence education and learning must go through stages. “A failure to allow Minimization to follow Defense by “skipping ahead” to Acceptance or Adaptation may eventuate in a strengthening of the Defense stage and rejection of further development.” (p. 189).

Requirements for cultural competence learning are probably different with respect to different types of encounters:

  • So-called sojourners (business people, foreign workers, exchange students) move to a different culture with specific goals in mind and for a shorter duration (typically between 6 month and five years) and intend to return home.
  • Immigrants move to a new culture with the intent to stay
  • Refugees may be in a situation in between these two.

Cultural competence can be addressed at the individual, a the organizational, or at the system level. While individuals are concerned by any of these levels, organizational and societal learning requires other kinds of changes, e.g. rules.

A large number of commercially available training classes or training materials exist, e.g. The Cultural Competence Education Resource Toolkit that includes 23 tools. We don't how efficient these are.

7.1 General principles

Deborah Corder and Alice U-Mackey (2015) [114] argue that educating intercultural literacy is very challenging. Cognitive aims (e.g. learners being able to pass an exam) can be met, however, meeting affective and behavioral goals might be much more difficult. According to the authors, “research shows that the development of IC is a complex process that involves cognitive, metacognitive, affective and behavioural development, and has to be intentionally developed over time (Ehrenreich 2006; Stier 2006; Crossman 2011; Deardorff 2011). As Perry and Southwell (2011) [34] and Witte (2011) point out, there is increasing evidence that the normal classroom or lecture context with a cognitive orientation alone cannot provide the environment for learners to develop the necessary competencies. Nor will IC automatically develop by just encountering other cultures whether in the classroom, through study abroad, overseas holidays, the workplace or social settings.”. Mendenhall et al.'s (2004) [115] literature review also shows “that intercultural training can enhance knowledge and satisfaction but not necessarily change behaviour and attitudes”.

Intercultural diversity is an important component of global citizenship. Vadura (2007: 17) argues that “The knowledge, skills and values that international studies graduates gain need now more than ever to reflect understanding of social responsibility and cultural inclusivity, embodied in the concept of global citizenship.”

Johanna E. Crossman led a qualitative study that aimed to “discover how undergraduate and culturally diverse students experienced a collaborative, international, online, experiential project to learn about intercultural communication. Student participants in the study endorsed experiential learning in culturally diverse groups about intercultural communication through intercultural communication.”. The study involved students from Australia, international students from Asia (in Australia) and students from the Netherlands. The task was to “to respond to a case study that concerned a franchisor in Australia considering two expressions of interest from potential franchisees in the Netherlands and Hong Kong.”. More specifically, members of the these three populations were required to act as "communication consultants" to advise the franchisor of any potential interculturual communication implications between the Australian organisation and the Dutch and Asian franchise. In other words, each type of student had to play and reflect upon his own cultural inheritage.

In this context, the author found that “learning about intercultural communication through intercultural communication is a powerful activity that responds to the need for learning approaches that internationalise the business curriculum in universities and develop global citizenship. The capacity of the experiential project appeared to engage students in ways that seemed to be perceived as authentic and relevant to their lives and work. The study has also illuminated how participants try to make sense of intercultural communication by juxtaposing personal experience with theoretical literature. Whilst stereotyping did occur, the observation can be used in the design of future activities so that the potential for meta-cognitive approaches can be developed further through asking questions about what stereotyping is and how, why and under what circumstances individuals might engage in it, particularly when tension and conflict exists in intercultural communication and indeed, culturally diverse learning contexts.”

Cultural competence education probably has to be adapted to different contexts, e.g. training health personnel to deal with persons from different cultural background is not the same as training international managers since heir activities and foci are different. However, there exist probably some first principles: Kriplani et al. (2006) within their prescriptions of cultural competence in medical education, argue, that practical skills must be taught as opposed to just general principle meaning that a practitioner has to learn to “listen to the patient's perception of the problem, explain their own opinion, acknowledge and discuss differences and similarities, recommend treatment, and negotiate an agreement”. They also recommend interactive Educational Methods, such as Standardized Patient encounters, role-play, and Self-reflective Journal Assignments. These should be reinforced through direct faculty observation and feedback. Cultural competence should be taught throughout the clinical education as opposed to specialized workshops. We believe that these principles that we could summarize as "learning in action in authentic contexts" could be applied to other settings.

7.2 Cross-cultural training

According to Rita Bennett at al. (2000:241), [116] there are three reasons for cross-cultural training (CCT): “(1) manage change — personal-professional transition; (2) manage the cultural differences; and (3) manage their professional responsibilities”. According to the same authors, for an international assignment to be succesful, the whole family should be trained since it can act as support unit.

Contents for cross-cultural training should include at least the following topics: General and country-specific cultural awareness; Area studies, history, geography, poli- tics, economics; Frameworks for understanding and valuing cultural differences; Planning for a successful international assignment; Intercultural business skills for working effectively in the local environment; Understanding cultural variations for those with regional responsibilities; Business and social customs in the host country; International transition and stress management; Practical approaches to culture-shock management and lifestyle adjustment; Information on daily living issues; Special issues: partners and families abroad; Repatriation as a predeparture issue.

The training design should comply with adult education principles and it should include both didactic and experiential approaches. Bennett et al. (2000) also notr that “research indicates that an “integrated program model” delivers the most effective training (Copeland & Griggs, 1993; Black & Mendenhall, 1990,Rhinesmith, 1993). An integrative model works through the complex web of factors impacting assignees. In fact, training may be a misnomer for this process, which is as much about change management as it is about education. Cross- cultural training not only targets practical, logistical considerations but intellectual and psychosocial dimensions as well.”

7.3 Cultural intelligence training

Cultural intelligence training seems to have the same purpose as cross-cultural training, i.e. it just may name a different sub-culture working in cultural competence training for organizations. In addition, cultural intelligence training is also concerned by different organizational cultures within a given national culture.

According to a Harward Business Review article [95], managers can be socially intelligent in their own settings but ineffective in culturally novel ones. That means they do not lack so-called "emotional intelligence", but are "cross-culturally" challenged.

Early and Mosakowski provide the following advice: Rote learning about foreign beliefs and customs is useful, but will not prepare a person for every situation that will arrise. Instead, managers should learn how to learn in all (of their) three Cognitive Intelligence (CQ) dimensions:

  • Cognitive CQ (head): Look for consistencies in the other's behavior. Example: "they were all punctual, deadline-oriented, and tolerant of unconventional advertising messages"
  • Physical CQ: Adopt (or cope with) the others' physical behavior, e.g. in France, allow to be kissed on you cheeks, or in the USA do not move in too close.
  • Emotional/motivational CQ (heart): Overcome failures, after confronting obstacles, setbacks, or even failure, reengage with greater vigor.

These example could imply that training needs to present learners with situation that forces them to abstract principles from observed clues.

Early and Mosakowski then present a six stage self-learning model "Cultivating Your Cultural Intelligence" that applies both to foreign culture and different enterprise cultures.

(1) Examine the Cultural intelligence quotient (CQ), e.g. using their instrument

(2) Selects training that focuses on weaknesses. For example, persons with a lack of cognitive CQ could read case studies and try to distill their common principles.

(3) The general principle from above then must be applied in real situations, e.g. greeting someone correctly or finding out where to buy a newspaper.

(4) Organizes personal resources to support a chosen approach. In particular find time, schedule and persons in the organization to conduct the training

(5) Enter the cultural setting and base coordination and plans with others on identified strength (see six profiles above)

(6) Evaluate the outcomes, e.g. with the help of a focus group.

The question now, is how to translate this model into a more formal training setting. A mixture of case study and role playing probably could be appropriate.

Livermoore (2010) suggest to engage actively within a foreign culture, e.g. read local newspapers, go to movies and museums, eat out, learn the language, attend cultural celebrations, visit a temple, mosque or church, join a multicultural group, find a cultural coach, take a class.

7.4 Cultural competence training

Cultural competence training is a term that is often used in the health sector, but also in social work. According to Long (2012) [117] “Despite the challenges and inconclusive results of previous studies, cultural competence can be taught and learned. Asystemic review of cultural competence training interventions for health care providers concluded that indeed training did influence provider knowledge, attitude and skills (Beach, et al 2004; Beach 2005, Brach & Fisher, 2000).”

Mary C. Beach et al. (2005) [109] in her literature review and analysis of Health Care Provider Educational Interventions, found evidence “that cultural competence training improves the knowledge of health professionals (17 of 19 studies demonstrated a beneficial effect), and good evidence that cultural competence training improves the attitudes and skills of health professionals (21 of 25 studies evaluating attitudes demonstrated a beneficial effect and 14 of 14 studies evaluating skills demonstrated a beneficial effect). There is good evidence that cultural competence training impacts patient satisfaction (3 of 3 studies demonstrated a beneficial effect) [...]”. Contents of the intervention include either general concepts, specific cultures or both. Teaching strategies were either experiential or not. As in cross-cultural training in business, “all cultural competence interventions should target the knowledge, attitudes, and skills of health professionals, so measurement of these intermediate outcomes are appropriate, and results are encouraging.”

Interestingly, Beach et al (2005) mention that “concerns have existed about whether specific cultural information taught in curricula using a knowledge-based, categorical approach might promote stereotyping of patients”. The indeed found that in study, “following an intervention that taught specific cultural information, students were more likely to believe that Aboriginal people were all alike” and recommend that a patient-centered approach should be emphasized that takes into account understanding general concepts of "culture". Beach et al. don't provide details about the educational designs, but noted that all types of interventions were reported to be successful.

Cultural competence learning is most often described as a set of competences to be acquired or as a set of components, but also as developmental model, i.e. various authors define various stages. In Bhui et al (2007) review of cultural competence in mental health care, “only three studies published their teaching and learning methods”. One model of cultural competency recommended participant observation, analysis of case reports, consultation and conferences around specific clinical problems [118]. Another [119] recommended discussing and writing about case histories and paying attention to the narratives. A model for nursing working in critical care settings [120] deployed interactive lectures and small group teaching with role-play exercises and patient centred interviews to enhance cultural understanding.

Chang (2009) [77] , in a study on Taiwanese health workers abroad, “identified several components that help explain the schema adjustment process of expatriate workers after encountering unfamiliar cultural stimuli” (see above for the model):

  • Cross-cultural training programs can provide learners with true cross-cultural cases, stories, and situations that have happened to experienced sojourners. Scenario-based training could be mixed with role-play. Cognitive task analysis can be used (by both teachers and students ?) to reveal cognitive processes and structures that people use.
  • Both positive and negative experiences should be used as learning resources

7.5 The cultural development model

Marcia (2000) [58] presents a cultural development model (CDM) that summarizes other models,

7.6 Lay theories

Before teaching intercultural competence, it may be interesting to see how people view cultural difficulties. Goldstein and Keller (2015) [121] analyzed U.S. college students’ lay theories of culture shock. Results show that “Students’ beliefs differ significantly from those of intercultural experts. In contrast to the A, B, C model of culture shock which represents the scope of academic theories across affective, behavioral, and cognitive domains, college students’ lay theories emphasize the behavioral, or culture learning, approach over affective and cognitive components of culture shock. [..] Although some of the minimally endorsed internal causes of culture shock deserve such a rating (for example, the outdated and unsubstantiated notion that culture shock is due to emotional instability), other low rated causes warrant greater attention from potential sojourners, including those involving stress management, social support, identity confusion, and prejudice.” (Goldstein & Keller, 2015).

8 Strategies and tactics for cultural competence education by domain

Strategies and tactics in competence training and education differs from context to context. In the USA, for example, the main efforts are made in the health sector. “In the late 1980s, Cross and colleagues [122] called on systems of care for children and families to improve their competence in serving diverse cultural groups. The resulting cultural competence movement has been strengthened by a growing recognition of the striking disparities in health and social outcomes across ethnic and racial groups, and a commitment by many in the public and private sectors to reduce these disparities.” (Calzada & Suarez-Balcazar, 2014) [27])

8.1 Business / international assignments

Bennet al. (2000), in the context of of CCT training for international assignments include case studies, critical incidents, simulations, videos, role plays, lectures, and guided discussions. They also emphasize that “the more tailored these methods are to the company, to the assignee and family, to the employee’s job responsibilities, and to the location, the greater the impact and learning outcomes.”

In the same perspective, Littrell, Salas (2005) [123] and Littrell et al. (2006) [124] discussed various training foci and guidelines (including pedagogical strategies and tactics) for cross-cultural training (CCT), e.g. making expatriates ready for a different culture. According to Littrell and Salas (2005:308), “Cross-cultural training can be defined as an educative process focused on promoting intercultural learning through the acquisition of behavioral, cognitive, and affective competencies required for effective interactions across diverse cultures”. They also note that this type of training focusses on attitude change rather than information acquisition. Three skills need to be developed: self-maintenance, interpersonal and cognitive. Since one cannot train someone for every situation that could be met, the individual also must be taught to engage in a continouous self-development process. That means that he must be taught meta-cognitive strategies that facilitate learning and that unexpected situations (e.g. disconfirmed expections) can be managed appropriately.

Below is a summary of typical CCT training program elements

Summary of delivery strategies (Littrell and Salas, 2005:310, annotated with extra information from the text)
Focus of Training Intervention Potential Strategies
Developing the skills required to make isomorphic attributions Attribution training (learn to interpret behavior in a manner similar to that of host nationals)
Imparting the knowledge needed to understand cultural differences Culture awareness training (better understand their own culture)
Assisting in the development of host-culture appropriate behaviors Cognitive-behavior modification training (develop the habitual behaviors desired in the host culture including behaviors to avoid)
Promoting successful adjustment via on-the-job training Interaction training (the experienced expatriate introduces the novice to business practices, to key people at work and within the community, and shows how to carry out daily-life tasks.
Developing the language skills required for everyday interactions Language training (e.g. ability to exchange common courtesies in the host language)
Providing the expatriate with information regarding living and working conditions Didactic training (in particular, enable the expatriate to understand the host culture and to possess a framework within which to evaluate the new situations).
Giving the expatriate the opportunity to practice potential situations to be encountered in the host culture Experiential training tactics, learning by doing, that includes see visits, role-plays, intercultural workshops, and simulation)

The authors also point out that CCT should be tailored to both the features of the assignment and the invidual (since personality traits make a huge difference in terms of CCT needs and learning ability). CCT should use multiple educational strategies and should not stand alone.

In a 2006 study, entitled "A critical analysis of 25 years of cross-cultural training research." [124], Littrell et al. identified a longer list of topics. According to How effective is intercultural training? (retrieved March 25, 2016), the authors found that cross-cultural training was positively related to:

  • self-development and self-confidence;
  • the establishment of personal relationships with host country nationals;
  • overall feelings of well-being and satisfaction; and
  • cognitive skills development with regard to perceptions of host country nationals.

I.e. that success of training can be linked to traits (self-development and confidence), context (relations), affect, etc.

Bhawuk & Brislin (1992:432) [125] report that “It appears that people take three or more years of cross-cultural experience to become interculturally sophisticated.”. They also point out that "food" is an important indicator “to be able to enjoy foods from different cultures, one must be open-minded and flexible, and one must be willing to try new things.” (p 432).

Feitosa et al. [126] present in integrative model of expatriate selection and training. According to their literature review the following traits are key variables that will determine expatriate success, via both learning and adjustment:

  • Cultural intelligence (CQ): The learner's capacity to be successful in novel cultural settings.
  • Learning goal orientation (GO): The learner's motivational orientations towards learning new knowledge and skills.
  • (Technical) Knowledge, Skills, Abilities and Other characteristics (KSAOs): Required elements necessary to perform specific tasks in a new environment.
  • Language skills.

These key variables can be influence through various training designs and then affect cultural competency at attitude, cognitive or behavioral level. The environment also can play a key factor for acculturation, but, according to the authors, there is little research.

Integrative model of expatriate selection and training (Feitosa et al. 2014, drawing with minor changes).

The model identifies three important elements of training design. Contents refer to what is being taught, for example specific vs. general skill sets. Process refers to the learning design, e.g. the authors distinguish two broad categories: “intellectual” vs. “experiential”. Experiential learning can be achieved through simulations, role playing, field trips and intercultural workshops, all of which could be implemented through online games or online gamified environments. The authors identify information, demonstration, practice, and feedback (IDPF) as the basic four elements of any training program, i.e. a subsect of what could be called pedagogic tactics. (Salas et al. 2013 [127]).

8.2 Health sector

Beach (2005) [109], in a reviews of research that did show effectiveness of competence training, identified a series of pedagogical designs and tactics: audio/visual, discussion (group), brainstorming, case scenarios, clinical experiences, conduction of community health activities, cultural and history learning, culture immersion, demonstration/role modeling, demonstration/role modeling, drill/practice exercise, field trip, food shopping/planning, home visits, hospital tours, interviewing members of another culture, language lessons, lectures, outreach with national prevention organization, simulations, visits to local hospitals and health centers, web pages, writing cultural autobiography, written and verbal presentations, and written assignments.

Tracy Long (2012) [128] gave an overview of teaching strategies for cultural competence in nursing students that we reproduce in part below:

  • Group discussions: used for “teaching cultural competence concepts. Its advantages include the active learning process that promotes exchange of ideas however distractions and unmanaged group dynamics can be challenges”.
  • Student written reports: “[..] through self directed learning modules are often used as evaluation methods for learning concepts. A disadvantage in this learning strategy is that isolated learning is productive only for certain learning styles.”
  • Clinical experiences: “with real life experiences increased student comfort and confidence in caring for pa tients from diverse cultures and increased after repeated exposures to persons from other cultures (Chrisman & Maretzki 1982; 2005; Trotter, 1998).”
  • (Physical Patient) simulations: “advantages are the safe and controlled environment and opportunities for repetition of skills, however the expense for training faculty and staff and the cost of high fdelity mannequins or standardized patients may be prohibitive.”
  • Guest lectures: “have added helpful insights for both students and faculty. Students have responded favor- ably and acknowledged new insights gained that they couldn’t have experienced without the expertise of the lecturer.”
  • Mentoring and consultation:
  • Educational partnerships: “Educational sessions where community members teach health care providers by describing their unique ethnic lived experiences creates a rich background of understanding different cultures and provides an interface of learning dialog”
  • Lived immerson/study abroad.
Tracy Long (2012), Overview of teaching strategies for cultural competence in nursing students [129]
Teaching Strategy Study Advantages Disadvantages Outcomes Methodology
Lecture Linares (1989)

Bond (2001)

Boyle, (2007)
Structured Easy to organize and control for instructor Limited interaction and feedback Students are more comfortable in structured environments they are familiar with. Students don’t score above knowledge alone concepts. Qualitative surveys
Group Discussion Zuzelo (2010) Interactive Distractions from on task discussion Students desire a reflective communication process to exchange ideas and build on each other’s thoughts. Focus group
Student Written Report Betancourt (2007) Thorough, self directed Isolated learning Not measured Qualitative
Assigned Readings/Module Lee (2006) Knowledge based Limited to stereotyping Improvement in knowledge of selected health beliefs and practices Descriptive qualitative
Clinical Experience Chrisman & Maretzki (1982) Trotter


Kardong (2005)
Real life experience Limited to availability in clinical setting Comfort in caring for patients from diverse cultures increased after repeated exposures to persons from other cultures. Descriptive qualitative
Lived Immersion Jones and Bond (2001) Kardong (2005)

Hinck & Hope (2006) Wiegerink-Roe & Rucker- Shannon (2008)

Larson (2010)
Comprehensive from 1 week to 3 weeks to full semester Expensive Limited to students who are willing and able to travel Student anxiety about a different culture decreased with >1 week exposure in a study abroad experience. Qualitative descriptive and phenomenologic studies
Oral Report No studies found Structured Limited to effectiveness of public speaking. Emphasis may be on delivery rather than content
Journal Keeping Jones (2000) Alpers (1996) Thorough, self directed Isolated learning Reflective improvements in self awareness Qualitative and group discussion
Video/ virtual experience No studies found Knowledge based Limited to stereotyping
Simulation Rutledge (2008) Real life experience Limited to availability in technology
Organized Field Trip No studies found Structured Limited to availability
Standardized Patient Medical School studies only Interactive, standardized Limited to availability Cost of actors Increase in confidence with repetition Studies done for medical school students
Service Learning Anecdotal studies Interactive Short term Students increased appreciation of a different culture Qualitative Descriptive
Mentoring and Consultation Napholz (1999)

Ranzijn (2005,

Real life experience Limited to availability in clinical setting Significant improvement in knowledge of specific culture Self report study; pre and post test after intervention and control group
Educational Partnerships Jacobs (2003) Real life experiences Collaboration within community Limited to availability Coordination required for contacts Improvements in attitude toward ethnic groups Qualitative reports

8.3 Social workers

Social services, like the health sector, are experiencing difficulties to manage cultural diversity.

Ronnau (1994) in teaching cultural competence [130] describes five strategies for teaching cultural competence which have been successfully employed in Social Work practice classes.

8.4 Refugees

Ager and Strang (2008) define a global framework for refugee integration. One facilitator and the social connection layer are concerned by acculturation and cultural competence.

Ager and Strang (2008) integration framework

Ien Ang (2001), in "Navigating complexity: From cultural critique to cultural intelligence" [131] puts forward the complexity of the modern global world and that complex problems requires the recognition of complexity. He then states that cultural intelligence also recognizes the need for simplification to combat the paralyzing effects of complexity and that there is a need for simplification without being simplistic. That situation seems to describe quite accurately the unstoppable transnational flow of refugees. “To put it succinctly, cultural intelligence involves the recognition that navigating complexity can never be a question of definitive or one-size-fits-all ‘solutions’; a complex problem can only be addressed partially, through an ongoing and painstaking negotiation with its multiple aspects, the different ways in which it is perceived, and the divergent interests and perspectives involved. Moreover, because efforts to solve one problem in isolation tend to generate unforeseen or unintended consequences which create new problems down the track, in turn needing concerted efforts to resolve them, cultural intelligence favours a more process-oriented approach to ‘problem-solving’, based on emergent, creative strategies of simplification which keep room for contingency and variability along the way, rather than predetermined, linear goals and formulas.” (Ang 2001: introduction).

Morrice (2013) [132] considers the processes of transforming experience and learning that accompanies transition to life in the United Kingdom and challenges some assumptions of transformative learning. Susan Webb (2015). [133] also found that, when migrants hold multiple identities, transformation learning has negative sides and argues that learning in workplaces and communities should encourage culturally diverse groups to learn to live and work together.

Interactions between members of the "host" culture and refugees require cultural intelligence that adapts flexibly to different situations and education could mean to focus on the acquisition heuristics that will allow people to cope with a certain number of situations and to interact.

According to Berry (2005) [134], “integration can only be “freely” chosen and successfully pursued by non-dominant groups when the dominant society is open and inclusive in its orientation towards cultural diversity. Thus a mutual accommodation is required to attain integration, involving the acceptance by both groups of the right of all groups to live as culturally different peoples. This strategy requires non-dominant groups to adopt the basic values of the larger society, while at the same time the dominant group must be prepared to adapt national institutions (e.g., education, health, labor) to better meet the needs of all groups now living together in the plural society.”

If full multi-cultural integration is not accepted by the dominant culture, i.e. when it enforces certain forms of acculturation, assimilation or separation strategies must be found.

Tran (2013) [50], notes that Information and communication technologies “(ICTs) have become integral aspects in both assisting and complicating the acculturation process for refugees. These technologies are helping Vietnamese refugees culturally adjust in American communities as well as maintain ties with their native culture; thus, illustrating the multifaceted nature of acculturation.”

Crea (2016) Thomas M. Crea, Refugee higher education: Contextual challenges and implications for program design, delivery, and accompaniment, International Journal of Educational Development, Volume 46, January 2016, Pages 12-22, ISSN 0738-0593, ( points out that opportunities for higher education are especially lacking (Wright and Plasterer, 2010) in spite of a documented interest in pursuing post-secondary education (Dryden-Peterson and Giles, 2010).

Dada [135] describes two programmes in Kent, England, designed to increase communications between resettled refugees and native citizens. “He notes misperceptions by Kent citizens that caused negative feelings and explains that refugees often have unreasonably high expectations of their host nation, thus increasing tensions (p. 160). Dada describes cultural ways to integrate refugees with the native British population, such as sports and cultural mentors.” (McBrien, 2013 [136])

Russel (2003) [137] draws parallels between tourist and refugee impact on host countries and regions. From two different field studies, she concludes that both positive and negative effects are similar. “In summary, on paper at least, integration strategies for reducing the negative and enhancing the positive impacts of tourists and refugees on hosts, based on participatory community planning, have a great deal of merit.” E.g. the host population should participate in community planning and ultimately also “discover the convenience and desirability of using facilities designed originally for these [immigrant] populations.”.

Hofstede (1996) [138] identifies cultural differences in teaching and learning and that may have to be taken into account, since he concludes that “the burden of adaptation in cross-cultural learning situations should be primarily on the teachers.”

9 Strategies and tactics for cultural competence education

9.1 Direct instruction

Facts and simple skills learning about various aspects of a different culture

9.2 Mentoring

Mentoring, also called "interaction training" allows a novice to learn from an experienced person, typically an expatriot in a company.

9.3 Role playing

Role playing can be used for:

  • attribution training, e.g. learning to interpret behavior from the viewpoint of another

9.4 Roles games

9.5 Massive Multiplayer Online Envionments

Mark Ward (2010) [139] studied the acculturation of newcomers into the virtual cultures of massively multiplayer online games and found that “Intercultural communication theories, and particularly theories regarding sojourners’ cross-cultural adaptation to new environments, appear to offer useful frameworks for analyzing phenomena observed in research on massively multiplayer online games.” He concluded: “Novice gamers cannot function effectively within the society of a particular gameworld until, as Nishida (1999, 2005) [86] [140] predicted, they internalize the schemas required to swiftly process cultural information and accurately fill in the gaps. They gain communication competence within the culture of the gameworld through a trial-and-error dialectic of stress, adaptation and growth, as Kim (2001, 2005) [141] [142] predicted. In so doing, they must shed realworld cultural habits and take on the habits of the gameworld culture, a process that may be retarded if gamers maintain dense realworld social networks and accelerated if those networks are less dense (Kim 2005; Smith 1999).”

9.6 T-groups

A T-group or training group (sometimes also referred to as sensitivity-training group, human relations training group or encounter group) is a form of group training where participants themselves (typically, between eight and 15 people) learn about themselves (and about small group processes in general) through their interaction with each other. ( Wikipedia)

9.7 Cultural infusion activities

Attending cultural events

10 Assessment of cultural competence

Besides trying to represent, summarize, visualize and compare different cultural representations, research also attempts to measure cultural competence with mostly psychometric assessment tools. These tools have a variety of foci. Education, for example is interested to measure learning within a student population that takes part in an internationalization program. Many tools developed for the health sector aim to provide practitioners with self-assessment tools that could help improving services.

Test construction

Matsumoto & Hwang (2013) [42] stress the importance to define desired outcomes in terms of outcomes to be demonstrated. These outcomes are of four types: knowledge, skills, abilities, and other (KSAOs). KSAOs can come from previous theory, research, or experience. Their breadth can vary greatly. After identifying precisely what is to be measured and initial item pool has to be created from various sources (including other tools). The first pool should be very large “and items are eliminated from the initial pool in the validation process, during which researchers balance desires for higher reliability of measurement with practicality, resulting in final item pools that allow for reasonably reliable measurement of KSAOs while not being too long.”

Matsumoto & Hwang (2013) explain methods for establishing psychometric reliability and validity of tests of 3c: construct and ecological validity. Construct validity defines the reliability of an instrument (does it measure what it is supposed to?) and ecological validity “predicts measures of desired outcomes that serve as criterion variables, that is, measures of intercultural adjustment, adaptation, communication competence, interaction success, and so forth” (is it useful ?).

Construct validity, i.e. telling whether a test measures the constructs it was designed to measure, is in this case defined by three subtypes:

  • Structural validity: Various types of multi-variate analysis (in particular different types of factor analysis) allow to identify and/or confirm underlying latent variables, i.e. constructs and sub-constructs.
  • Convergent validity: Correlational analysis with other instruments measuring the same constructs can corroborate construct validity if the relation is strong and positive. However, there can be a "halo effect.
  • Divergent validity: “demonstrating that the 3C test is associated with other psychological constructs that other 3C tests are not”.

Ecological validity, sometimes also referred to as external validity, predictive validity of criterion validity, can be documented in several ways. “One is to demonstrate associations between the proposed 3C test and measures of the criterion variables. If the criterion variables are obtained at the same time as the 3C test, we consider that concurrent ecological validity; if obtained later, we consider that predictive ecological validity” (p. 852). Ecological validity also can be demonstrated in difference tests between individuals known to be competent or not, or pre-post test scores of sojourners. Furthermore, a mixed methods approach using other approach, in particular various qualitative analyses (e.g. interviews, simulations, role plays, objective outcomes) also is helpful.

Commercial interests

Many instruments that are published are copyrighted, trademarked and only commercially available. This represents in our opinion a delicate ethical problem.

  • Since the instruments are not published, they are not open for public expert review
  • Since the instruments are a source of income, there can be (a probably unintended bias) in the research procedure and analysis conducted. E.g. see the Clarifying Inaccurate Statements Characterizing the Intercultural Development Inventory in Matsumoto and Hwang (2013) JCCP Article [143] where Hummer (himself defending his own commercial IDI scale) states that Matsumoto and Hwang do have conflict of interest when they promote the ICAPS in a review article.
  • Instruments with low administration costs probably sell better. We find it a bit strange that most assessment tools simply rely on self-assessment of MCQs as opposed to other types of of questions and/or activities.

Types of assessment techniques

Fantini [144] identifies the following assessment techniques:

  • Closed and open-ended questions
  • Objective strategies that involve scoring
  • Oral and written activities
  • Active and passive activities
  • Individual and interactive activities in pairs or groups
  • Dialogue, interviews, debate, and discussion
  • Demonstrations, poster sessions, role-plays, and simulations
  • Structures and unstructured field tasks and experiences
  • Questionnaires that require self-evaluation, peer evaluation, group evaluation, and/or teacher evaluation

Overview and reviews of instruments

Schnabel et al. (2015) [3] critize that while cultural competence is in theory often defined as ability or skill, prominent measurement approaches operationalize intercultural competence “merely as stable personality traits (e.g., Chen and Starosta, 2000, Kelley and Meyers, 1995 and Ruben, 1976), cultural intelligence (e.g., Earley & Ang, 2003; Van Dyne, Ang, & Koh, 2008), sensitivity to cultural differences (e.g., Hammer, 2008 and Hammer et al., 2003), or a combination of those (e.g., Fantini and Tirmizi, 2006, Koester and Olebe, 1988 and Yamazaki and Kayes, 2004). This obviously creates a gap between the conceptualization and the measurement of intercultural competence.”

According to the Sage Encylopedia of Intercultural competence (2015:18), “most of the existing intercultural competence tools, which usually fall into the indirect-evidence category [i.e. the perception of learning by the participants themselves], consist of some sort of questionnaire or inventory. These can generally be categorized into two broad categories: (1) external: cultural difference and (2) internal: personality traits/predispositions/adaptability. Most of these rely on the respondent’s perspective as the basis of the data collected”.

Leung et al. (2014), [13] identify 300-plus personal characteristics identified in previous research and distill these into three content domains: (a) intercultural traits that are enduring like personality traits, (b) intercultural attitudes and worldviews focus on how people perceive others, and (c) intercultural capabilities focus on what a person can do in intercultural interactions. The authors then review five contrasted models, as shown in the table below.

Content domains of intercultural competence instruments (Leung, 2014)
  Content domain
Intercultural competence instrument Intercultural traits Intercultural attitudes and worldviews Intercultural capabilities
Global Competencies Inventory (GCI, Bird et al. 2010) X X X
Global Mindset Inventory (GMI, Javidan & Teagarden 2011) X X X
Multicultural Personality Questionnaire (MPQ, Van der Zee & Van Oudenhoven 2000, 2001) X -- --
Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI, Hammer & Bennett 1998.) -- X --
Cultural Intelligence Scale (CQS, Ang et al. 2007) -- -- X

Leung et al. conclude that “the CQ model and Multicultural Personality Inventory (MPQ) have the most promising evidence for assessing cross-cultural competence models. Both have demonstrated similarity of factor structure and measurement equivalence across multiple cultures and have predicted a range of psychological, behavioral, and performance outcomes.”

Gabrenya et al. (2011) [7] analyzed 34 instruments that aim to measure intercultural competence in order to evaluate a (US) Defense Language OfficeFramework for Cross-Cultural Competence. After a first round of elimination, a few were evaluated in more depth with respect to face validity, construct validity and criterion validity.

Matsumoto, D., & Hwang (2013) [42] analyzed a number of tools and conclude that the Cultural Intelligence Scale (CQ), Intercultural Adjustment Potential Scale (ICAPS), and Multicultural Personality Inventory (MPQ) have the most promising evidence for assessing cross-cultural competence.

In addition to quantitative tests, other assessment methods exists, e.g. expert reviews using evaluation rubrics, behavioral role play assessment, etc.

Cross-cultural validity

It is possible that some tests do work in the same way across cultures (to be investigated)

10.1 Attitudinal and Behavioral Openness Scale (ABOS)


10.2 Cultural Competency Inventory


10.3 Behavioral Assessment Scale for Intercultural Communication Effectivenes (BASIC)

Koester & Olebe (1988) [145] the Behavioral Assessment Scale for Intercultural Communication (BASIC) effectiveness in a behavioral approach to the measurement of intercultural communication.

Participants are observed in a intercultural communication context and rated be judges.

The starting point of this assessment technique is Ruben's (1976:344) [146] argument that there is a gap between knowing and doing: “Even within one’s own culture, knowing that one ought to be respectful or empathic or non-judgmental does not guarantee that one will be able to perform the behavior, even with good intentions”

10.4 Business Cultural Intelligence Quotient

The Business Cultural Intelligence Quotient was created by Alon, Boulanger, Meyers and Tars (2016). [147]

The instrument was developed for two reasons. Existing CQ measures are criticized for various reasons (conceptual, their self-reporting nature, limited scope, limited predictive value, etc.). In addition the existing ones are not always suited for the business context.

“The BCIQ takes into account the cognitive features and measurable independent variables that are associated with cross-cultural success. The final BCIQ score is a composite score that includes affective and behavioral components as well as knowledge. The predictive validity of the CQ measure also includes psychological well-being, the acquisition of culture-appropriate skills, and the capacity to make culturally accurate attributions” (Alon et al. 2016:80) [147])

Cultural competence/Business Cultural Intelligence Quotient (BCIQ)

10.5 Cross-Cultural Adaptability Inventory (CCAI)

The CCAI was created by Kelley and Meyers (1987) [148]. Based on literature and expert interviews and initial 59 item set was created. The final CCAI includes four dimensions:

  • Emotional Resilience (18 items)
  • Flexibility/Openness (15 items),
  • Perceptual Acuity (10 items)
  • Personal Autonomy (7 items).

Cultural competence/Cross-Cultural Adaptability Inventory

10.6 Cross-Cultural Orientation Inventory (CCOI)

The Cross-Cultural Orientation Inventory (CCOI) measures the cross cultural orientation of a person, defined by Mittal [149] as “the readiness of a person to interact with, and form a sustainable relationship with a person from a different culture [...] CCO is conceptualized as having two dimensions; cognitive – which refers to the awareness and knowledge about other cultures, and affective – which captures the attitudinal orientation towards other cultures.”.

10.7 Cultural Competence Assessment Instrument (CCAI-UIC)

The CCAI was developed for the health sector by Suarez-Balcazar and associates. “The CCAI-UIC is a self-report instrument that does not directly measure cultural competence behaviours or performance. The original instrument was developed on the basis of previous studies and our own experiences and included 49 items that measured four components: awareness, knowledge, skills and practice/application of cultural competence” (Balcazar et al. ,2009) [150]

The resulting instrument includes 24 items and measures: cultural awareness and knowledge, (cultural) skills, and organizational support as retained in the author's model introduced in section Models of cultural competence

10.8 Causes of culture shock scale

Goldstein and Keller (2015) developed a causes of culture shock scale. [151]

This scale was developed on the basis of culture shock and intercultural adjustment literature as well as study abroad pre-departure resources.

10.9 Cultural judgement and decision making (CJDM)

Cushner and Brislin (1996) developped an instrument that uses cross-cultural decision making scenarios, called Cultural Judgment and Decision Making instrument (CJDM). “Effective CJDM requires understanding cultural issues and making appropriate interpretations based on cultural values (Mendenhall and Oddou, 1985)”. (Ang et al. 2007)[152]

10.10 Cultural Intelligence Scale (CQS)

Ang, van dyne and associates developed a popular four-dimensional cultural intelligence scale. (Ang et al., 2006[153]; Van Dyne et al. (2008) [154]).


10.11 Global Competence Aptitude Assessment (GCAA)

Hunter et al. (2006) [155] define global competence broadly as “Having an open mind while actively seeking to understand cultural norms and expectations of others, leveraging this gained knowledge to interact, communicate and work effectively outside one’s environment,” (Hunter, 2004).

A panel of 17 experts participated in a Delphi survey in order to elicit a definition of "global competence" and a "Global Competence Checklist". The majority of participants either were experts in international education or human resources in companies.

A related "Determining Global Competence" survey was made and according to Hunter (2006) distributed to 133 representatives and about 40 companies involved or interested by this issue. A copy of the items is here.

Revised versions of these tools are now commercially available through Global Competence Aptitude Assessment. The underlying component model can by represented as a circle, based on the following hierarchy (inside out)

Hunter Global Competence Model (™)



10.12 Global Perspective Inventory (GPI)

The GPI has been developed in the context of internationalizing campuses, i.e. “the process of infusing an international, intercultural or global dimension into the purpose, function, or delivery of postsecondary education” (Knight, 2003, pp. 2-3).” (cited by Braskamp: 2009:1) [156]

“The Global Perspective Inventory (GPI) assesses a global and holistic view of student learning and development and the importance of the campus environment in fostering holistic student development. The GPI measures how students think, view themselves as people with cultural heritage, and relate to others from other cultures, backgrounds and values. It reflects how students are responding to three major questions: How do I know?, Who am I? and, How do I relate to others?” (About the GPI, retrieved March 1 2016).

The GPI is managed by The Research Institute for Studies in Education (RISE), a unit of the School of Education, at Iowa State University. This (commercialilzed) test exists in three variants: A "new student form", a "general student form" and a "study abroad form". As of August 2013, there have been nine versions, starting with a pilot version in 2007 (Manual, [157]). The questionnaires can be used in various conditions, e.g. a one-shot assessment, or as pre and post-test.

This self-assessment test includes three dimensions that we attempt to summarize below. Each of these dimensions is measured with two scales, each corresponding to a different type of theory, i.e. on scale reflects the theory of cultural development and the other reflects intercultural communication theory manual, page 4

A. Cognitive Dimension ("How do I know ?")
1. Knowing: understanding the importance of cultural context
2. Knowledge: understanding of different cultures and their impact, language skills
B.Intrapersonal Dimension ("Who am I ?")
3. Identity: level of awareness of one's own identity
4. Affect: respect and acceptance of different cultural perspectives and emotional confidence
C Interpersonal Dimensions ("How do I relate to others ?")
5. Social Responsibility: Level of interdependence and social concern for others
6. Social Interactions: Degree of engagement with others who are different from oneself and degree of cultural sensitivity in living in pluralistic settings.

The 2012-2013 version of items are here. Interestingly, most dimensions are weakly correlated and that includes the two respective scales within a same dimension (r=.145, .324, .241 in a large 2012/13 survey based on 9773 responses)

The authors, in their manual, page 10 argue that self-reports seem to be trustworthy for that kind of population since the instrument is not used for selection.

10.13 Intercultural Adjustment Potential Scale (ICAPS)

Matsumoto (2001) et al. [158] created a test to measure the intercultural adjustment potential of sojourners and immigrants. An initial 193 items ICAPS was applied to Japanese in the USA, and 55-item version was validated in several studies against other scales.

Four important dimensions were identified:

  • Emotional Regulation
  • Openness
  • Flexibility
  • Creativity


10.14 Intercultural Knowledge And Competence Value Rubric

The association fo American Colleges and Universities developed an Intercultural Knowledge And Competence Value Rubric.

The authors, citing Bennett, (2008) [159]define Intercultural Knowledge and Competence as “a set of cognitive, affective, and behavioral skills and characteristics that support effective and appropriate interaction in a variety of cultural contexts.”

“The intercultural knowledge and competence rubric suggests a systematic way to measure our capacity to identify our own cultural patterns, compare and contrast them with others, and adapt empathically and flexibly to unfamiliar ways of being”

This rubric is informed by two sources, Bennett's Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity [160] [60] and D.K. Deardorff's intercultural framework model [39].

The rubric is reproduced here.

10.15 Intercultural communication sensitivity scale

Chen and Starosta (2000) [161] developed an instrument to measure intercultural communication sensitivity. Its construction was conducted in three stages: (a) a pre-study to generate items (b) a factor analysis on 73 items found and (c) 24 items forming 5 factors were extracted:

  • Interaction Engagement
  • Respect for Cultural Differences
  • Interaction Confidence
  • Interaction Enjoymnent
  • Interaction Attentiveness items

Fritz, Möllenberg and Chen (2002) [162], conducted a confirmatory factor analysis of the Chen and Starosta instrument and confirmed the validity of the overall structure of the instrument, but noticed some minor weaknesses.

A copy of the Intercultural Sensitivity Scale published by Fritz et al. is here

10.16 FEIL Intercultural Competence Assessment

Fantini and Tirmizi (2006) [163] define intercultural competency with the following components: knowledge, attitude, skills and awareness.

The instrument includes a the long FEIL questionnaire that includes 7 parts, open ended questions and interviews.

This work is part of the International and Intercultural Communication Commons™

10.17 Intercultural effectivenes scale (IES)

Portalla and Chen (2010) [164] “developed and assessed reliability and validity of a new instrument, the Intercultural Effectiveness Scale (IES).” (abstract). “Intercultural communication competence (ICC) can be conceptualized as an individual’s ability to achieve their communication goal while effectively and appropriately utilizing communication behaviors to negotiate between the different identities present within a culturally diverse environment. ICC is comprised of three dimensions, including intercultural awareness, intercultural sensitivity, and intercultural effectiveness (Chen & Starosta, 1996).” (cited by Portall & Chen, 2010:21) [164]

“Based on a review of the literature, 76 items important for intercultural effectiveness were generated. A total of 653 college students rated these items in two separate stages and generated a 20-item final version of the instrument which contains six factors.” (Portalla and Chen: 2010:21)

In a literature review, the authors identified several components that could accound for interculturally effective behaviors: “message skills, interaction management, behavioral flexibility, identity management, and relationship cultivation (Chen,1989, 2005; Martin & Hammer, 1989; Ruben, 1977; Spitzberg & Changnon, 2009).”

10.18 Intercultural development inventory (IDI)

“Bennett (1986, 1993b) posited a framework for conceptualizing dimensions of intercultural competence in his developmental model of intercultural sensitivity (DMIS). [...] Three ethnocentric orientations, where one's culture is experienced as central to reality (Denial, Defense, Minimization), and three ethnorelative orientations, where one's culture is experienced in the context of other cultures (Acceptance, Adaptation, Integration), are identified in the DMIS.” Hammer, Bennett & Wiseman (2003) [165]

The Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) was constructed to measure the orientations toward cultural differences described in the DMIS.

10.19 Intercultural Sensitivity Inventory (ICSI)

According to Sinicrope et al. (2007), [166], the Intercultural Sensitivity Inventory (ISCI) by Bhawuk & Brislin (1992)[125] “was developed to measure an individual’s ability to modify behavior in culturally appropriate ways when moving between different cultures. In particular, the inventory was used in comparing behavior in an individualistic culture (United States) versus a collectivistic culture (Japan).”


10.20 Integrated Measure of Intercultural Sensitivity (IMIS)

According to Pobog-Jaworowski (2014:9)[167], “Intercultural sensitivty has been proposed as the “mind-set” that precedes intercultural competence (Chen & Starosta, 2000; Weiss, 2012). While intercultural competence is conceptualized as being outside of the individual, intercultural sensitivity is located inside of the individual. Intercultural sensitivity cannot be directly experienced by others, but sets the foundations for effective intercultural interactions (Hammer et al., 2003; Matveev & Milter, 2004; Weiss, 2012).”

The Integrated Measure of Intercultural Sensitivity scale was created by Weiss (2012) [168] and includes four subscales:

  • General Culture Awareness (GCA),
  • Self Cultural Awareness (SCA),
  • Cultural Openness (CO)
  • Cultural Relativism (CR).


10.21 Multicultural Personality Questionnaire (MPQ)

According to Matsumoto and Hwang [42], Van der Zee and van Oudenhoven (2000) [169] defined “multicultural effectiveness as successfully operating in a new cultural environment, a feeling of psychological well-being in that environment, and interest in and ability to deal with individuals from a different cultural background.”

An initial version included 91 items and the following dimensions: Cultural Empathy, Openmindedness, Emotional Stability, Orientation to Action, Adventurousness/Curiosity, Flexibility, and Extraversion.

A final version includes four dimensions: Openness, Emotional Stability, Social Initiatives, and Flexibility. The MPQ seems to be a popular instrument that is well validated, also across cultural contexts.

10.22 Self-efficacy scale for adolescents (CSES-A)

The the self-efficacy scale for adolescents (CSES-A) by Tabernero et al. (2009) [170] was developed through several stages, in summary, a literature review os "cultural self-efficacy", development of a set of 50 initial items, and a reduction through factor analysis and reliability testing to 33 items and futhermore to 25 items.

The authors referred to the definition of Ang et al. (2006) for cultural competence, i.e. as “a set of behaviors and congruent attitudes that allow people to function effectively in intercultural situations” and integrated Bandura's self-efficacy theory.

The scale includes five factors: “self-efficacy in mixing satisfactorily with other cultures, in understanding different ways of life, in processing information from other cultures, in coping with loneliness and in learning and understanding other languages.” (abstract)

10.23 Sociocultural Adaptation Scale (SCAS)

Ward and Kennedy (1999) [171] created an instrument to measure sociocultural adaptation based on perceived behavior.

The instrument was tested in several diverse cultural settings. The global findings of this research are that: “(1) sociocultural adaptation problems are greatest upon entering a new culture and decrease in a predictable fashion over time; (2) sociocultural difficulties are greater for sojourning, compared to sedentary, groups; and (3) there is a significant relationship between the psychological and sociocultural components of sojourner adjustment”.

There are several variants of this instrument. “The SCAS is a flexible instrument and can be easily modified according to the characteristics of the sojourning sample. [..] Most versions contain 20–23 items”. The full set includes 41 items.

Ward and Kennedy identified two strong underlying factors:

  1. Cultural Empathy and Relatedness: It relates to cognition (e.g., understanding local perspectives, values and world views) and communication (intercultural communication, making friends, making oneself understood.
  2. Impersonal Endeavors and Perils: It relates to management impersonal interactions (e.g., bureaucracy, authority) and/or awkward situations (e.g., unsatisfactory services, unpleasant people).

10.24 Test to Measure Intercultural Competence (TMIK / TMIC and TMIC-S)

Schnabel et al. (2015) [3] define intercultural competence as a global behavioral orientation with a multidimensional structure. On that basis a test to measure intercultural competence was developed. It integrates self-estimation and situational judgement questions. Through expert interviews and a literature review 25 intercultural competences were identified, then reduced to 17. This model was then confirmed in two studies.

The dimensions include the following main dimensions:

  • Communication
  • Learning
  • Social Interaction
  • Self-management
  • Creating synergies
  • Self-knowledge

Schnabel et al. (2015c) [172] also published a short version of it. TMIC-S measures six malleable abilities that support handling novel or difficult cross-cultural situations comprising 25 self-report and six situational judgment items.

10.25 Transcultural self-efficacy

Guided by the cultural competence and confidence (CCC) model, the Transcultural Self-Efficacy Tool (TSET) can be used to evaluate the influence of cultural competence education on the transcultural self-efficacy (TSE)

Jeffreys and Dogan (2012) [173] seems to be the only published source of this instrument and the authors seem to insist on copyright.

The questionnaire (if we found the right version) includes three parts and uses 10 point Lickert scales.

  • Cultural factors that may influence nursing cares (25 items for various cares)
  • Interviewing clients of different cultural background to learn about their values and beliefs (28 items)
  • Knowledge about oneself (30 items)

10.26 Discussion of assessment tools

Several tools use are questionnaires that ask users for self-assessment in fairly abstract terms. Few items refer to precise behavior and opinions about situations. While one can achieve good reliability we can wonder about their construct validity. Do they really measure cultural competence or rather people's perception of cultural competence ?

We also wonder whether some hierarchical component models of cultural compentency are accurate. Research conducted with the Global Perspective Inventory (above) does support the idea that components could be fairly independent. It seems logical that being able enter in intercultural dialogue requires prior knowledge, some openness, etc. but not necessarily acceptance. E.g., missionaries often do (or did) possess extended knowledge about cultures and were able to communicate but did not necessarily respect other cultures.

11 Technologies for cultural literacy

According to Anstadt (2015), an environment like Second Life has several affordances:

  • The ability to role play simulations without compromising the identity of the individual. Yet at the same time there, is a relationship between users virtual lives and their real lives.
  • A simulated environment offers the potential for a range of experiences that is not available in "real live", including connecting with people that otherwise cannot be met.

12 Links

Some Wikipedia articles
Researcher's blog posts
Commercial offerings

13 Bibliography

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