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The Role of Cultural Intelligence in Management

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The Role of Cultural Intelligence in Management

Globalisation is a very influential tool in the modern management, as it has impact on various aspects of business. Due to the effects of globalisation today’s staff at any international company is often multicultural and as a result management has to deals with it. Cultural intelligence of a modern manager becomes not a unique skill or privilege, but a necessary element. It is cultural intelligence, which helps to elaborate special approach to every staff member, no matter what nationality does he/she have. Recent increased attention to this issue affirms the positive tendency towards increases in importance of the manager’s cultural awareness. The issue of cultural intelligence is crucial for maintaining effective organisational culture within any multicultural group and for efficient operation of the manager, who is aware of the cultural differences and challenges that follow.

Cultural intelligence has to do with various aspects and in the report under consideration the most important issues, defining the structure of report, are: reduction of personal ethnocentrism and toleration cultural features (Triandis, 2006), schemas in cross-cultural negotiations (Morris, 2005), the elements of cultural intelligence and organisational approach (Tan, 2004), the sources of cultural intelligence and the profiles of cultural intelligence (Earley & Mosakowski, 2004), and finally, the common challenges of the cross-cultural managers (Brett et al., 2006).

Cultural intelligence can be defined as “person’s ability to adjust to new cultures” (Tan, 2004, 19), requiring the “cognitive, affective, and behavioural” aspects (Triandis, 2006, 23). It is the level of cultural intelligence that determines the quality of the judgements about the members of other cultural groups, evaluation and integration of information, and toleration the patterns of behaviour of the others. According to Earley and Mosakowski (2004, 140) cultural intelligence is “an outsider's seemingly natural ability to interpret someone's unfamiliar and ambiguous gestures the way that person's compatriots would”.

The modern literature on the issue of cultural intelligence generally takes into account the cross-cultural challenges, created by globalisation. The aim of plentiful researches is to determine the role of cultural intelligence in the job of the manager and the extent to which the knowledge of this issue can be beneficial. True globalised management has become the topical focus in the end of the previous millennium, but it is the beginning of the twenty first century, which faces the real shift towards intercultural consideration in business affairs and consequently in management. Therefore, the literature on the topic should be issued ten years ago maximum to be relevant, since the changes in the state of affairs happen rapidly, and the situation in the sphere of management does not remain the same. The articles, considered in the current research, are up-to-date and topical, since the information, which is discussed in the sources, concerns modern issues of management in the circumstances of globalisation and cross-cultural communication.

The ideal cross-cultural environment is the environment where cultural awareness is one of the dominant elements and where the differences, for example ethnic, religious, and national, are treated with respect. The phenomenon of organisational culture is the one that reflects the presence of developed cultural intelligence within the company, so it is frequently the object of the organisation’s management. According to the author, the prejudice of the managers can have adverse effects on their operation, because the members of other cultural groups can be treated with suspension (Triandis, 2006, 20). In order to elaborate equal and unbiased attitude to all members of the staff, it is important to judge the personnel upon their activities instead of cultural features.

Overcoming personal ethnocentrism is also one of the most significant steps towards the acceptance of the cultural discrepancies between the employees. The acceptance of the cultural patterns, which are alien to the personal perception of the person, is often hard. It is common for people to suppose the habits and customs of the native culture as the only normal and traditional. The cross-cultural environment can pose the situation when it is necessary to be impartial and devoid of individual presuppositions. This feature is crucial for the effective operation of the intercultural manager, since he/she has to be able to “place oneself in the shoes of members of the other culture” (Triandis, 2006, 22). If the manager is capable of accepting the patterns of the other cultures equally and justly, he/she can be truly effective in globalised environment.

Toleration different cultural attributes is stated by the author as one of the crucial abilities of the cross-cultural group manager. According to Triandis (2006, 24) people can be countercultural if they expose their individualistic features without acceptance of the cultural identity of their colleagues. This may cause the lack of understanding within the group and even job dissatisfaction, leading to the person’s striving to change the environment or to leave the company. Cultural intelligence is the manager’s feature that helps to understand the differences, accept them, and to create good working atmosphere. A countercultural manager is not able not only to operate in multinational environment, but frequently can show poor performance within one ethnic group.

Cross-cultural negotiations are necessary in effective management within multinational environment. However, the cooperation with the representatives of other ethnic or national groups can be highly affected by schemas, which are the templates of other culture, based on the presupposition of the expecting party (Morris, 2005, 3). The expectations of the other cultural community members may influence the behaviour of the negotiator and the manger has to be always aware of the personal biases in order to make fair judgements. Morris suggests three categories of the schema stimulus:

• Attentional pressures, for example in the case of the deadline it is more common to operate with the help of the certain schema than in a manner, free of biased presuppositions.

• Emotional stressors are the factors that are especially common for expatriates, who seem to be assimilated in the new cultural environment, but resort to the patterns of primary cultural background when they are emotionally exalted.

• Cognitive

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