Intercultural communicative competence is essential for students of international business - but can it be taught? The case of third-year BCom students

F. Southwood, M.-L. de la Marque Van Heukelum

Abstract


Intercultural communicative competence is essential for graduates wishing to work in the business sector. Such competence has become desirable for graduates who see themselves working in “demanding and highly-challenging international environments” (Sain, Kužnin and Roje 2017, 55‒56). In spite of the need for well-developed intercultural competence in the workplace, students of Economic and Business Science are rarely deliberately equipped with an understanding of what language, culture and communication entail. Against this background, we investigated if an intervention, in the form of a 28-lecture undergraduate course, can develop third-year BCom students’ intercultural competence so as to prepare them to deal with the heterogeneity that they will encounter in the workplace (and elsewhere), both in multilingual and multi-cultural South Africa and abroad.

Based on eight of the skills and attributes identified by Deardorff (2004) as being markers of interculturally competent individuals (such as knowledge of self and others, respect, critical thinking skills, and an awareness of the importance of being interculturally competent), students (n=18) were assessed prior to the commencement of the course and again upon completion thereof. Pre- and post-course questionnaires were analysed qualitatively and quantitatively, and data were coded according to the eight Deardorff (2004) markers of intercultural competence. Additionally, a focus group discussion (n = 5) was held at the end of the course. The data showed that development took place in the students’ attitudes, knowledge and skills related to intercultural communicative competence. Certain markers of intercultural communicative competence, however, showed more substantial development than others, the notable marker showing such development being critical thinking skills.

The finding is that skills indicative of intercultural competence can indeed be developed by means of a curriculum in such a way that students think more critically about (i) cultural and linguistic diversity and (ii) their responsibility as future leaders to communicate optimally in diverse cultural settings. Deliberately including courses on intercultural communication in programmes for students (not only students in Humanities and Social Sciences) could contribute to personal and professional development of students and lead to graduates who are better prepared for a career in multicultural national and international business sectors. Likewise, the introduction of in-service training in intercultural communicative competence can be considered for those who are no longer students, thereby contributing to improved intercultural communication in the workplace.


Keywords


intercultural competence, intercultural communication, intercultural business communication

Full Text:

PDF

References


Anderson, Benedict. 1991. Imagined communities: Reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism. London: Verso.

Bakhtin, M. 1986. Speech genres and other late essays. Austin: University of Texas Press.

Bennett, Milton J. 2012. Turning cross-cultural contact into intercultural learning. Proceedings of the Universidad 2012 8th International Congress on Higher Education. The University for Sustainable Development, Havana, Cuba.

Berardo, Kate and Darla K. Deardorff. 2012. Building cultural competence: Innovative activities and models. Sterling, VA: Stylus.

Bernard, Taryn. 2015. A critical analysis of corporate reports that articulate corporate social responsibility. PhD diss., Stellenbosch University, South Africa.

Caproni, P., S. Lenway and T. Murtha. 1992. Multinational mindsets: Sense making capabilities as strategic resources in multinational firms. Ann Arbor, MI: Division of Research, School of Business Administration, University of Michigan.

Carr, G. 2012. Graduate students need preparation for life outside the university. The Globe and Mail, October 26, 2012. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/graduate-students-need-preparation-for-life-outside-university/article4699319/

Chen, G. M. and W. J. Starosta. 1999. A review of the concept of intercultural awareness. Human Communication 2: 27‒54.

Chuang, S. F. 2013. Essential skills for leadership effectiveness in diverse workplace development. Online Journal for Workforce Education and Development 6(1). http://opensiuc.lib.siu.edu/ cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1133&context=ojwed

Deardorff, Darla K. 2004. The identification and assessment of intercultural competence as a student outcome of internationalization at institutions of higher education in the United States. PhD diss., North Carolina State University.

Deardorff, Darla K. 2015. A 21st Century imperative: Integrating intercultural competence in tuning. Tuning Journal of Higher Education 3(1): 137‒147. doi: 10.18543/tjhe-3(1)-2015pp137‒147

Dimitrov, Nanda, Debra L. Dawson, Karyn C. Olsen and Ken N. Meadows. 2014. Developing the intercultural competence of graduate students. Canadian Journal of Higher Education 44(3): 86‒103. journals.sfu.ca/cjhe/index.php/cjhe/article/download/186040/185288

Earley, P. and E. Mosakowski.2004. Cultural intelligence. Harvard Business Review 82(10): 139‒146.

Earley, P. C. and R. S. Peterson. 2004. The elusive cultural chameleon: Cultural intelligence as a new approach to intercultural training for the global manager. Academy of Management Learning & Education 3(1):100‒116.

Eisenhart, C. and B. Johnstone. 2008. Discourse analysis and rhetorical studies. In Rhetoric in detail: Discourse analyses of rhetorical talk and text, ed. B. Johnstone and C. Eisenhart, 3‒21. Amsterdam, Benjamins.

English Living Oxford Dictionaries. 2018. Ethnocentric. https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/ ethnocentric

European Commission. 2017. New report shows digital skills are required in all types of jobs. https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/news/new-report-shows-digital-skills-are-required-all-types-jobs (Accessed 8 October 2018).

Fairclough, N. 1992. Intertextuality in critical discourse analysis. Linguistics and Education 4(3‒4): 269‒293.

Fritz, Wolfgang, Andrea Graf, Joachim Hentze and Antje Möllenberg. 2003. A replication study of the Chen/Starosta-model of intercultural sensitivity in Germany and the USA. Working Paper Technical University Braunschweig, Institute for Marketing, 03/06. http://hdl.handle.net/ 10419/54829

Geertz, C. 2000. Available light. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Giddens, A. 2002. Runaway world: How globalization is reshaping our lives. London: Profile Books.

Green, M. 2012. Global citizenship: What are we talking about and why does it Matter? Trends and Insights for International Education Leaders. January, 2012. http://globalhighered.files. wordpress.com/2012/03/ti_global_citizen.pdf

Grant, T. 2007. Transformation challenges in the South African workplace: A conversation with Melissa Steyn of iNCUDISA. Business Communication Quarterly 70(1): 93‒98.

Halpern, D. F. 1998. Teaching critical thinking for transfer across domains: Disposition, skills, structure training, and metacognitive monitoring. American Psychologist 53(4): 449‒455.

Henrich, J., S. J. Heine and A. Norenzayan. 2010. The weirdest people in the world? Behavioral and Brain Science 33(2‒3): 61‒83. DOI: 10.1017/S0140525X0999152X.

Jack, Rachael E. and Philippe G. Schyns. 2015. The human face as a dynamic tool for social communication. Current Biology 25(14): R621‒R634. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2015.05.052

Jacoby, J. and M. S. Matell. 1971. Three-Point Likert Scales are good enough. Journal of Marketing Research 8(4): 495‒500.

Jones, Tamiryn. 2013. Linguistic strategies used in the construction of performance assessment discourse in the South African workplace. PhD diss., Stellenbosch University, South Africa.

Joubert, Yvonne T. 2017. Workplace diversity in South Africa: Its qualities and management. Journal of Psychology in Africa 27(4): 367‒371. DOI: 10.1080/14330237.2017.1347760.

Kitsantas, A. 2004. Studying abroad: The role of college students’ goals on the development of cross-cultural skills and global understanding. Student Journal 38(3): 441‒452.

Ladegaard, Hans J. and Christopher J. Jenks. 2015. Language and intercultural communication in the workplace: Critical approaches to theory and practice. Language and Intercultural Communication 15(1): 1‒12. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14708477.2014.985302

McCabe, L. T. 1994. The development of a global perspective during participation in Semester at Sea. Educational Review 46(3): 275‒287. https://doi.org/10.1080/0013191940460305

Morley, Michael J. and Jean‐Luc Cerdin. 2010. Intercultural competence in the international business arena. Journal of Managerial Psychology 25(8): 805‒809. https://doi.org/10.1108/ 02683941011089099

Nummela, M., S. Saarenketo and K. Puumalainen. 2004. A global mindset: A prerequisite for successful internationalization? Canadian Journal of Administrative Sciences 21(1): 51‒64.

Paltridge, B. 2006. Discourse analysis: An introduction. London, New York: Continuum International Publishing Group.

Piller, I. 2007. Linguistics and intercultural communication. Language and Linguistic Compass 1(3): 208–226. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-818x.2007.00012.x

Rensburg, R. and E. Botha. 2014. Is integrated reporting the silver bullet of financial communication? A stakeholder perspective from South Africa. Public Relations Review 40(2): 144‒152.

Sain, Zrinka Friganović, Milena Kužnin and Rebecca Charry Roje. 2017. Teaching intercultural competence in undergraduate business and management studies – A case study. Croatian Journal of Education 19(Sp. ed. 1): 55‒71. https://doi.org/10.15516/cje.v19i0.2431

Samovar, Larry A. and Richard E. Porter. 2003. Understanding intercultural communication: An introduction and overview. In Intercultural communication: A reader, ed. Larry A. Samovar and Richard E. Porter, 6–17. Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth.

Sampson, D. and H. Smith. 1957. A scale to measure world-minded attitudes. Journal of Social Psychology 45: 99‒106. https://doi.org/10.1080/00224545.1957.9714290

Scollon, Ron and Suzanne Wong Scollon. 2001. Discourse and intercultural communication. In The handbook of discourse analysis, ed. Deborah Schiffrin, Deborah Tannen and Heidi E. Hamilton, 538‒547. Malden, MA and Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishers Ltd.

Spooner-Lane, Rebecca, Donna Tangen, K. Louise Mercer, Erika Hepple and Suzanne Carrington. 2013. Building intercultural competence one patch at a time. Education Research International 2013: 1‒9. http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/394829

Van den Bergh, R. 2008. Cultural intelligence: A comparison between managers in South Africa and The Netherlands. MA thesis, University of Pretoria, South Africa.

Vertovec, S. and R. Cohen. 2002. Conceiving cosmopolitism: Theory, context and practice. Oxford: Oxford University Press.




DOI: https://doi.org/10.20853/34-3-3366

Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.


eISSN: 1753-5913

Copyright © 2016 South African Journal of Higher Education

Hosted by Stellenbosch University Library and Information Service since 2016.

Creative Commons License -CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Disclaimer:
This journal is hosted by the SU LIS on request of the journal owner/editor. The SU LIS takes no responsibility for the content published within this journal, and disclaim all liability arising out of the use of or inability to use the information contained herein. We assume no responsibility, and shall not be liable for any breaches of agreement with other publishers/hosts.