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Friday, October 20, 2017
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Development of intercultural competence in consultancies
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Development of intercultural competence in consultancies

19 pages · 3.88 EUR
(September 2011)

 
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Introduction:

"Globalisation is a fact of life. But I believe we have underestimated its fragility." (Annan 1999). With this quotation Kofi Annan illustrated that globalisation has become a part of our daily life, but nevertheless it is still something we have to treat with care. Globalisation is one of the words which has been and is used very often. But what does it exactly mean? "Globalisation" is a disputed term, ranging in meaning from the economic integration of countries in one economic system (Hoogvelt 1997) to one that considers the impact of economic global relations on social relationships from the meta-level of a social system to the interstices of everyday life practices (Dominelli 2010). In this context, the word "globalisation” is used in terms of cultural diffusion and convergency. Globalisation is manifested by global changes in economic structures and furthermore, the transnationalisation of the world economy (George/Wilding 2002).

Thus, internationalisation, defined as the process of increasing involvement in international markets (Welch/Luostarinen 1988), can be described as a consequence of globalisation. Consequences of globalisation and internationalisation are wide-ranging. From an economic perspective one important consequence is that companies worldwide find themselves in international business relationships with each other and the national borders fade into the background.

With regard to the consulting sector, internationalisation has a great impact. The amount of projects abroad has increased over the last years. About two out of three small or medium-sized consultancies have already worked on consulting projects abroad (Mohe/Birkner 2008). The large consulting companies mostly have their offices spread around cities all over the world. This leads to a high degree of interaction between people with different cultural backgrounds. However, dealing with people from different cultures can cause intercultural conflicts. Differences among cultures affect the behaviour of organisations (Iles/Hayers 1997). Experiences, attitudes and behaviours of organisational members are often influenced by their cultural backgrounds. This means, that employees with different cultural background approach their organisational interactions with different beliefs, assumptions, and meanings, which often leads to miscommunication and conflicts (Fine 1996). These conflicts can be caused by two or more people with different cultural orientation systems coming together, each having different expectations about the behaviour of their counterpart. Thus, new competences are required to overcome these cultural barriers.

The key to dealing with intercultural conflict situations successfully is called intercultural competence. The question arises as to how intercultural competence can be developed and what learning activities are positively related with intercultural competence.


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the authors
Kirstin Birner

(formerly Hansen), University of Regensburg, studied Educational Sciences with a focus on e-learning. Since 2006 she has been working as a research assistant and doctoral student at the University of Regensburg. Her dissertation topic is the development of intercultural competence in the domain of consultancies. She is also interested in the research topics of workplace learning and cultural diversity.

Hans Gruber
Hans Gruber

is full professor for educational sciences at the University of Regensburg. His subjects were psychology, educational sciences and new German literature studies. The most important stages in his career to date have been the Max Planck Institute for Psychological Research, Ludwig Maximilian University Munich and the University of Regensburg. He publishes frequently in journals and books on his main research topics: professional learning, research on expertise, workplace learning and social network analysis.

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Regina H. Mulder

is full professor for educational sciences at the University of Regensburg. She studied sociology in the Netherlands. The most important stages in her work have been at the Erasmus University of Rotterdam in the Netherlands, where she was the vice director of the RISBO research institute. She has published in journals and books on her research interests: various topics in vocational learning and training, professionalism and professional development, and learning in organisations.

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