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Write an essay of, discussing theories relating to cultural competence

Cultural competence has become a central concept in interaction between cultures globally. Define cultural competence outlining three(3)theories of cultural competence.

Then for the core of the essay focus on the Cultural Intelligence (CQ )theory of cultural competence. Outline the theory, critically analyzing the background to the theory including its relationship to Emotional and Social Intelligence. Discuss the CQ assessment mode including any limitations and research evidence relating to what areas of behaviour and performance that CQ might predict. 

Introduction to Cultural Competence

Cultural competence or intercultural competence has been a social instinct of the humans and has evolved with the passage of time. It refers to the, cognitive, behavioral and affective skill sets that allow an individual to communicate with other individuals belonging from different cultural, social, ethnic, or anthropogenic backgrounds. The necessity of intercultural competence in developing peace and harmony cannot be undermined. In fact, effective communication between different cultures can generate mutual trust and bonding allowing each community to share ideas and grow mutually. The success of intercultural communication not only includes excellent communication skills, but also requires an understanding of the contrasting culture, the level of trust and bond of relationship among the two cultures. This essay will look into the meaning of cultural competence, the theories explaining them and the way they are measured in an individual. This essay will focus on the cultural intelligence or cultural quotient (CQ) that defines the theories of cultural competence.  

The importance of being culturally competent or developing cultural competency among individuals is majorly due to the changing scenario of work and business environment around the world. It enables an individual to cope with the different cultures, since their level of understanding of the cultural heterogeneity, cultural awareness and their influence on behaviour, social values and beliefs are higher in individuals having high competence (Foster, 2018). The three major attributes that manipulate or influence the cultural competence of an individual are the cognitive skills, the behavioral processes, and the affective processes. The cognitive processes include the mindsets or the thinking processes of an individual and how that moulds or manifests the attitude towards other cultures or ethnic groups. In fact the cognitive processes allow an individual to filter and present their thoughts and interaction with accordance to the contrary group or cultures. It also allows an individual to justify the values of his or her own culture and understand the differences that exists as regard to other cultures. The affective processes are the expressions that take place during inter culture interactions which affect the level of competence. This mostly include non- judge mentalism, social relaxation and flexibility of thought, and positive approach to contrasting cultures. The behavioral aspects determine the reactions of an individual with respect to cultural differences. This is the extrinsic expression of the self and includes the body language and tone of interaction, management of social and behavioral skills and mode of representation of the self. The following sections will briefly discuss the theories that explain Intercultural competency or simply cultural competency. The concept of cultural competency has not developed in a day, rather it evolved from various assertion and people from various backgrounds have defined cultural competence differently. The modifications were done mostly on the basis of their personal understanding, social values and reflections of the other societies. Hence, there can be no central idea of cultural competency yet a common approach is prevailed in all the thoughts. The cross cultural competence or 3C as commonly abbreviated is not at all a rigid idea that adheres to strict laws and definitions (Chiu et al., 2013); rather it greatly depends on personal interactions and the experiences derived out of such communication on an individual level. The various experiences attach a sense of understanding on a more practical level which eventually enriches an individual with the concept of cross cultural competence and creates opportunities for the development of cultural competency (Barker et al., 2017).

Attributes of Cultural Competence

With the greater quantified research in social sciences, social attributes are no longer restricted to qualitative analysis, but are also hugely quantified.  Social competence are analysed on the basis of various aspects as individual personality, ethnocentricity and ethno relativity, and most importantly on the basis of cultural intelligence or cultural quotient.

The concept of personality and its measurement to understand and analyse cross cultural competence is one of the major approaches in cultural psychology (Wilson, Ward, & Fischer, 2013). There is a paradigm in evaluating personality across cultures due to its vast diversity. While making an attempt to measure personality in cross cultures, there is a constant conflict in kind of approach to be adopted. The conflict between imported measures and indigenous measures of analysis is a debatable point; again the feasibility of imported measures for evaluating indigenous personality is a conflicting approach. However, whatever method is used to analyse the personality across several cultures, the personality trait analysis is dependent on two major factors, one that is analysed on the basis of the Big Five Factor that tend to analyse the psychological traits and the other being the social traits that influence a person’s cultural competence. This is due to the difference in thought as some suggest that personality is endogenous, and are reflected in behaviour and are adaptive to the cultural and social elements. The personality theory revolves around the psychological systems that exist in an individual and the way these systems influence, motivate, or manipulate the personality of an individual. Generally, the personality analysis is done on the basis of four theories which receive personality from a different perspective. These are the Trait analysis, Psychoanalytic Theory, socio-psychological theory and the Self Theory. The cultural competence of an individual is evolved and influenced on the basis of his or her personality, and these theories justify the cross cultural competence reflected by an individual.

The ethnocentric and ethno-relative theories are polar opposite approaches, to understand cultural competence. Defining the terms, it can be mentioned that ethnocentrism is more of a dogmatic theory, which stresses on prioritizing the beliefs, values and cultures of a particular group or community over other. Ethnocentrism has always been detrimental for cross cultural competence. The social sensitivity of a person or a set of individuals depend highly on how ethnocentric or ethno-relative they are (Barbuto, Beenen, & Tran, 2015). Ethnocentric values have always brought oppression, distinction and differences among communities and have created animosity in the environment among various communities of cultural diversity. The fact that ethnocentricity is closely associated with cultural competence and that there are studies and inventories such as the   Inventory for Assessing the Process of Cultural Competence or simply IACC to analyse the relativity of the two. Ethnocentrism affects the way people communicate with other groups from different communities and is instrumental in fostering cultural competence. Ethnocentrism creates a barrier for interpersonal skills being detrimental for an organisation and its employees.

Theories of Cultural Competence

Ethno-relativism on the other hand is completely the opposite of being ethnocentric. It promotes cultural sensitivity and cultural awareness and thereby fostering bonding and fraternity among communities. The term ethno-relative explains the adaptability and acceptance of diverse cultures and giving equal value to the communities other than one’s own. The theory of ethnocentrism and ethno-relativity is widely studied to analyse the cross cultural competence in organisations, institutions and academics to evaluate the cultural competence of the human resources. Cultural awareness and Cultural sensitivity should be encouraged to enhance ethno-relative culture among communities and institutions. One of the major tools, to analyse ethno-relativity with context to cultural sensitivity is the DMIS model (Johnson, Hall & Adams, 2017). The DMIS or the Development Model of Intercultural Sensitivity, propounded by Dr. Milton Bennett, is a model to evaluate the reaction of people to cultural differences and thereby judge their cultural competence by analyzing their cultural sensitivity. This is a widely accepted model in understanding cross cultural competence and its importance.  

The necessity to understand the cross cultural diversity and thereby adopt appropriate methods to develop and inculcate skills is necessary for creating a harmonious environment in the society. Apart from the theories of personality and ethnocentrism and ethno-relativity, the theory of cultural intelligence or more commonly known as Cultural Quotient (CQ), is by far the most important theory that explains the degree of cultural competence that an individual will have. By analyzing the cultural quotient of an individual, the qualitative analysis of an individual with respect to his adaptation to culturally diverse environment and situations is understood. The concept of cultural intelligence or commonly cultural quotient is a broadly used term and is applied in various fields of operation ranging from business to education and even in the military. Cultural Intelligence (Huff, Song, & Gresch, 2014) refers to the capacity or capability of an individual to adapt and react across different cultures and thereby producing effective output. A culturally intelligent individual have high cultural quotient is more open to new environment, has more opportunities to grow and develop in comparatively new environment, while others having low quotient of cultural competence  pose difficulty  while  operating in the society. The concept was initially conceived by Soon Ang and P. Christopher Earley in their famous book Cultural Intelligence: Individual Interactions Across Cultures in 2003 and was later developed in detail by Soon Ang and Linn Van Dyne in the Handbook of cultural intelligence: Theory measurement and application; where they proposed the methods to evaluate cross cultural competence among individuals. The concept treats cross cultural competence of an individual more as a form of human intelligence than just a quality trait that can be acquired (Thomas et al., 2015). The theory also describes that this form of intelligence can be quantified and measured based on certain scale. The attributes that are taken into consideration are multidimensional in nature and include the cognitive attributes, the meta-cognitive or strategic attributes, the behavioral characters and the motivational factors. Depending on the outcomes derived out of these four major aspects the cultural intelligence or the cultural quotient of an individual is derived. The theory has seen major applications in the field of business, management, military, and government activities and in largely in academics and health care. Individual with higher cultural quotient are believed to have greater adaptability and are successful in blending with the varied cultural environments. It has been observed that CQ or cultural quotient has been consistently proving its competence in analyzing individual performance in cross cultural scenarios. The further development, application and application of this concept is being monitored by the Cultural Intelligence Centre in the United States and by the Nanyang Business School situated in Singapore.

Personality Theory

The following section of the essay will briefly discuss the measurement of cultural competence in the purview of the Cultural Intelligence or Cultural Quotient (CQ). The four major attributes will be discussed and the way they are rated or measured will be analysed in this section of the essay. The CQ as discussed is analysed on the basis of four aspects including cognition, motivation, meta-cognition and strategic apprehensions of an individual.

The cognitive aspect refers to the knowledge of an individual regarding the different practices, cultures, and prejudices prevailing in a different country. It mostly consists of the general know how about a foreign land, the rules and laws prevalent in the country, the culture and beliefs practiced by the people the social and cultural beliefs of the lands, the rules and laws of the legislation. It also includes knowledge about the various business practices, the linguistic expressions and other verbal and nonverbal practices being practiced in the foreign country. It has been observed that higher cognitive CQ enhances decision making ability, thereby increasing cultural competence of a person.

The Meta-cognitive attribute mainly refers to the strategy adopted by any individual in learning the distinct cultural and social practices and the verbal and nonverbal behaviors that are being practiced by the local people of a foreign land. It describes of the processes and activities that are performed by any individual to acquire knowledge about the cultural practices and behavioral expressions such as greetings, verbal and nonverbal expressions, and attire and clothing differences. A higher Meta-cognitive CQ, value indicates that a person is culturally competent to adopt and evolve.

The motivational factor that influences the cultural competency of a person refers to the degree of motivation that an individual poses in performing activities and gathering knowledge about contrasting cultures. It has been noted that individuals with high motivational CQ tend to be more open and engaging towards diverse cultures.  Motivational attributes fosters the confidence and interest in an individual to develop cultural awareness and sensitivity (Pochebut, & Logashenko, 2014). A person with high motivational CQ seeks enjoyment in gathering new experiences and gathers benefits from cultural diversities.

The final aspect of analyzing the cultural quotient of an individual is through the behavioral aspects that influence an individual’s outward expression. Behaviour talks about the individual’s capacity in demonstrating oral expressions in form of effective communication. The nonverbal expressions include the gestures, social habits and cultural expressions of the individual owing to their adaptations to cross cultures. A high CQ of behaviour relates to greater chances of cultural competence. Behavior also refers to the capacity of an individual in displaying the adopted cultural traits in a cross cultural scenario.

Ethnocentric and Ethno-Relative Theories

The assessment of cultural intelligence is done on the basis constructs (Alon et al., 2016). Constructs are stated as abstract notions that tend to define the outline of the result that is supposed to be derived out of an analysis and are generally statements of justification. The CQ is measured in a scale which varies from strongly agree to strongly disagree and a higher CQ on this scale refers to the competence of an individual with respect to cross cultural diversities whereas a lower score denotes the lack of ability to be culturally expressive and socially adaptive to the surroundings. The limitations of the CQ have been very less accounted due to its limited use. More over being a newer concept very few modifications are done and is still under constant research. However as far as the tool is applied, certain limitations have been identified which points out that Cultural Quotient assessment is more individualistic in nature and is not currently appropriate to measure organizational structures. The credibility of the tool is also of a debate when an experienced individual is to be measured, since it can provide fabricated results for persons already exposed to cross cultures (Ott, & Michailova, 2018). Thirdly, the results obtained from a peer rated review and a self-rated review are very much in common which also highlights the incompetence of the tool to identify individual non biased reports.

Finally, it can however be concluded that, with the changing nature of the global environment, the need to understand and evaluate cross cultural competence is of utmost necessity. The success of the 3C in analyzing an individual’s worth in terms of his or her credibility in the workplace cannot be undermined. The rapid use of the model in various sectors of work places have only made its acceptance broader in nature. The concept being a newer one has immense potential to grow over the years and expand its field of application. It has also allowed the organisations to better understand their roles in handling a global workforce and ways to maintain and train them.  Cross cultural competence will hence continue, to be one of the most valued theories for the time to come.

References

Alon, I., Boulanger, M., Meyers, J., & Taras, V. (2016). The development and validation of the business cultural intelligence quotient. Cross Cultural & Strategic Management, 23(1), 78-100.

Barbuto Jr, J. E., Beenen, G., & Tran, H. (2015). The role of core self-evaluation, ethnocentrism, and cultural intelligence in study abroad success. The International Journal of Management Education, 13(3), 268-277.

Cultural Intelligence: Concept and Definition

Barker, K., Day, C. R., Day, D. L., Kujava, E. R., Otwori, J., Ruscitto, R. A., ... & Xu, T. (2017). Global Communication and Cross-Cultural Competence: Twenty-First Century Micro-Case Studies. Global Advances in Business Communication, 6(1), 5.

Betancourt, J. R., Green, A. R., Carrillo, J. E., & Owusu Ananeh-Firempong, I. I. (2016). Defining cultural competence: a practical framework for addressing racial/ethnic disparities in health and health care. Public health reports.

Chiu, C. Y., Lonner, W. J., Matsumoto, D., & Ward, C. (2013). Cross-cultural competence: Theory, research, and application.

Foster, E. (2018). Cultural Competence in Library Instruction: A Reflective Practice Approach. portal: Libraries and the Academy, 18(3), 575-593.

Greene, R. R. (2017). Human Behavior Theory and Professional Social Work Practice. In Human Behavior Theory and Social Work Practice (pp. 31-62). Routledge.

Henderson, S., Horne, M., Hills, R., & Kendall, E. (2018). Cultural competence in healthcare in the community: A concept analysis. Health & social care in the community.

Huff, K. C., Song, P., & Gresch, E. B. (2014). Cultural intelligence, personality, and cross-cultural adjustment: A study of expatriates in Japan. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 38, 151-157.

Leung, A. K. Y., Lee, S. L., & Chiu, C. Y. (2013). Meta-knowledge of culture promotes cultural competence. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 44(6), 992-1006.

Matsumoto, D., & Hwang, H. C. (2013). Assessing cross-cultural competence: A review of available tests. Journal of cross-cultural psychology, 44(6), 849-873.

Matsumoto, D., & Hwang, H. C. (2013). Assessing cross-cultural competence: A review of available tests. Journal of cross-cultural psychology, 44(6), 849-873.

Mellizo, J. M. (2017). Exploring intercultural sensitivity in early adolescence: a mixed methods study. Intercultural Education, 28(6), 571-590.

Ott, D. L., & Michailova, S. (2018). Cultural intelligence: A review and new research avenues. International Journal of Management Reviews, 20(1), 99-119

Pochebut, L., & Logashenko, Y. (2014). An intercultural sensitivity as a professional trait of specialists of humanitarian sphere. In Proceeding of the International Scientifical Conference May 23th–24th (Vol. 1).

Pochebut, L., & Logashenko, Y. (2014). An intercultural sensitivity as a professional trait of specialists of humanitarian sphere. In Proceeding of the International Scientifical Conference May 23th–24th (Vol. 1).

Shen, Z. (2015). Cultural competence models and cultural competence assessment instruments in nursing: a literature review. Journal of Transcultural Nursing, 26(3), 308-321.

Thomas, D. C., Liao, Y., Aycan, Z., Cerdin, J. L., Pekerti, A. A., Ravlin, E. C., ... & Moeller, M. (2015). Cultural intelligence: A theory-based, short form measure. Journal of International Business Studies, 46(9), 1099-1118.

Thomas, D. C., Liao, Y., Aycan, Z., Cerdin, J. L., Pekerti, A. A., Ravlin, E. C., ... & Moeller, M. (2015). Cultural intelligence: A theory-based, short form measure. Journal of International Business Studies, 46(9), 1099-1118.

Wilson, J., Ward, C., & Fischer, R. (2013). Beyond culture learning theory: What can personality tell us about cultural competence? Journal of cross-cultural psychology, 44(6), 900-927.

Johnson, M., Hall, E., & Adams, M. (2017). Changes in Intercultural Competency among Undergraduate Students in Elementary Education.

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