Friday, April 22, 2016

Can Cultural Intelligence be Taught in the Classroom?

As commerce continues along its path of globalization Americans will need to develop cultural intelligence (CQ) in order to deal with people of different backgrounds. Products move freely across the world and people chat and travel as easy as it is to make a phone call or take a road trip. The U.S. is becoming a diverse recruiting ground for businesses and college graduates will need new skills to managed diverse teams.

Consider a technology business that must work with people from different backgrounds. You have a choice in hiring a candidate with great skills but lacks the ability to work with people of different backgrounds while the other has slightly lower skills but can work in a team. Which would you choose?

You would likely seek the later as what the candidate may lack in skills can be hedged by his/her ability to work with other people. The former might just create a level of dysfunction to existing collaborative efforts. CQ in teamwork will become more important as American businesses continue to diversify their workforces to compete globally.

According to a study in the journal Academy of Management Learning & Education it is possible to teach students cultural intelligence. Cross-cultural management courses help students raise their awareness so they can act and interact with others of different backgrounds appropriately. Motivated students grew and developed faster than those who were less motivated.

Business schools can consider implementing cross-culture management courses in their business curriculum to ensure that graduates have the necessary skills to interact with others of different backgrounds. Many of these graduates will some day be managers and will need to understand how to communicate and lead groups of diverse peoples. Without these skills American managers will be at a disadvantage developing international teams. 

Ramsey, J. & Lorenz, M. (2016). Exploring the impact cross-cultural management education on cultural intelligence, student satisfaction, and commitment. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 15 (1).

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