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  • Sahil Shaikh

Developing Intercultural Competence

Organizational culture’s as they are becoming more and more globalized, internalization has become the new benchmark and Intercultural Competence (IC) has proven itself to be a skill that can no more be ignored and has to be valued, since employees are expected to act in a responsible and productive manner in all their cross-cultural interactions.

Following this, a variety of strategies that organizations can employ, such as initiatives to foster employee' intercultural competence, the concept of intellectual competence should be focused on values, attitudes, skills, knowledge and understanding that will collectively make up for this ability.

In today’s article we will discuss learning interventions in multicultural organizations and demonstrate methods for increasing intercultural competency.

v Introduction to Intercultural Competency

Intercultural competency is illustrated as a critical and essential component of an employee’s learning curve towards his comprehensive preparation in the organization. The aim of IC learning is to develop employees to succeed in global business environment by advancing their horizons and caring for or showing appreciation to other cultures.

The 3 crucial approaches for doing so in the current scenario are:

· Employee Flexibility.

· Domestic Internationalization.

· Curriculum Internationalization.

The enhancement of intercultural competency is a learning development of internationalization; however, it is not a given, since the concept of internationalization prioritizes outputs over outcomes, there have been several instances of the model receiving a fair bit of criticism. Increasing employee mobility or encouraging a diversified learning community does has its positive effects on intercultural learning, however these effects are not assured. Of lately, the urgency for evidence-based internationalization approaches have increased manifold. In order to accept and understand how internationalization influences the evolution of intercultural competence or other related notions, studies now are being undertaken.

Examining this discourse in employee learning reveals that there is considerable theoretical diversity in regards to the interpretation of a “Global Ready Employee” and the elemental assumption of intercultural competence, as well as regarding which pedagogies are competent and what this implies for the competencies of the professional’s part of the Learning & Development team.

It hasn’t been an easy ride for organizations to implement effective measures to assist employees build their intercultural competencies due to conceptual diversity. Many leaders have acknowledged that intercultural competency is an important learning outcome for them, however they still combat to develop and incorporate the same into their curriculums.

v Employee engagement in meaningful Intercultural Learning

Organizations are becoming increasingly aware that all employees, not only those who participate in leadership programs or who are getting coached or mentored for higher responsibilities, should be forecasted to acquire intercultural competencies. Now, how to develop capabilities for intercultural learning that can be constructive to all employee and learners has to be the first component that organization’s need to think about.

Now, the reason this is important is because all employees will need to be prepared to function in a worldwide business environment not only as professionals representing the organization, but also as global citizens, whether the employee choses to carry on with their professional endeavor’s domestically or overseas. The concern they will deal with in their future personal or professional lives will be highly momentous and increasingly significant, with consequences in their field of operation and the world.

Research has found that internationalization reflects the appetite and the desire to incorporate all employees and their leaders, based on a working definition, they action an amended concept of internationalization. It is the intentional mechanism of integrating an international, intercultural or a global aspect into the purpose, objectives, functions and delivery of alternate learnings, in order to enhance the essence or quality of learning and analysis for all employees and to make a meaningful contribution to the society that helps the organizations to thrive.

v Inter-cultural Competence Levels

What organizations need to take into account is how to customize learning courses for the different stages of intercultural competence. These customized learning’s should create frameworks specifying behavior’s associated with each stage of competence as well as the developmental challenge the employees need to overcome to advance to the next stage or level. As mentioned earlier, intercultural competence deepens over a period of time on both an individual and organizational level. On a personal level it details an individual’s expanding capability to take into account diversity and the wisdom of diversity in the evolution of daily reality, as well as their expanding competence to act correctly and effectively in a particular cultural environment.

The steady development of new skills and information over an inconsistent amount of time is known as Learning. The Intercultural Maturity Model (IMM) (King & Baxter Magola, 2005) showcases how individuals develop over time from a very nascent stage to a more matured level. Each of these phases have a very briefly described characteristics at the intrapersonal, cognitive and interpersonal levels, as the underlying tone suggests that any development is evolutionary over a period of time and the benefits from extended vulnerability and insider feedback, intercultural competency, however, emerges from interactions between people from different backgrounds.

v Promoting the development of Intercultural Competence

Exposure to diversity alone cannot ensure that intercultural transformation will occur. Effective learning settings plays an important role in promoting development of intercultural competence. The basic principle is that, in a learning curriculum that is understood in its fullest meaning, recognizing similarities and disparities in viewpoints and understanding are and should be recognized as facilitating tools and as assets.

3 things are crucial while curating a curriculum that integrates intercultural growth:

1. The learner’s personality, communication skills and desire to engage in cross cultural interactions

2. The learner’s personal history, have they travelled well, the family bond & structure.

3. The learner’s nature of interactions with individuals of different cultural backgrounds.

There should be abundance of opportunities in the learning curriculum for employees to interact with professionals from various cultural backgrounds. Both the learner and the organization’s environment may exhibit these, as it will be foreseen that these close contacts will advocate familiarity, will lessen prejudice, weed out ethnocentrism and will result in productive and amicable association.

v Strategies to implement Intercultural Competency

Change’s needs to be made to the curriculum’s design and content, as well as to how it is facilitated and evaluated. Consolidating intercultural competence development into the core structure of a curriculum and bridging it to an employee’s professional, personal and social demands will assist us to get a possible result. For the purpose of modifying traditional curriculum to incorporate multicultural and global standards, the L&D team should take time to critically evaluate and reflect on the concealed assumptions about the nature of the learning and how it is been facilitated.

In order to provide a more relevant intercultural learning experience, the facilitator must have high levels of intercultural competency in extension to a precise pedagogical and didactical skills that are not typically included in an organization’s definition of their employee’s intellectual profile. We also need to make a note here, that any organization demands an all-encompassing, well-resourced change management program that earnestly engages all of its internal stakeholders and gives a non-wandering focus on intercultural competence development.

v Conclusion

Without a long term and evidence-based structure, this change approach to boost an organization’s overall level of intercultural competence and integration of the development of intercultural competence in the learning curriculum by closely calibrating it with the disciplinary content, it will remain challenging for organizations to produce employees who are interculturally competent. A deep analysis and a thorough road map of on-going initiatives across the organization is the first step in building a workforce which is interculturally inclined.

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