Intercultural competence

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According to intercultural competence is the ability to develop targeted skills, culture, and knowledge that create to a particular behaviour and communication that are both relevant n intercultural interactions. All living cultures have different outcomes of intercultural communication. There are six components of intercultural competence which are, tolerance of ambiguity, behavioural flexibility, knowledge discovery, communicative awareness, empathy and respect for others. Intercultural understanding can also be termed as understanding different cultures linguistically with their complex cultural situations. In this essay, we will focus on intercultural competence and the existing approaches and the tools for assessment. The reason of intercultural assessment is that it is important in a variety of areas and functions which people use every day (Spencer 2014).  However, intercultural competency is to be assessed by everyone especially people who interact with different cultures.

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Interpersonal Competence in the Education Sector

Intercultural competence spans a vast spectrum of the community from international schools, working and even short study abroad or permanent residency in foreign cultures. The research for intercultural has also increased from short attitudes to personal surveys to even more complex and flexible behavioural assessments. The huge audience remains the education and the commercial sectors due to different interactions of the cross cultural audience. It is important for the education systems to develop a cultural competence culture through the integration of the school system (Spencer and Stadler 2009). An intercultural competence which is integrated throughout the schools requires assessment and identification of all components of social domains. However other curriculum systems have developed a Tool for Assessing Cultural Competence Training (TACCT) which provides a clear framework for building an effective educational program.

Interpersonal Competence in the Commercial Sector

Organizational, interpersonal skills are important and an effective way to plan and incorporate culture and linguistic competence. Organizational, Intercultural competence is necessary for addressing policies, attitudes, behaviours, structures and all the practices of an organization. The awareness should include, board members, staff, and the management and use self-assessment as an instrument of intercultural practices (Prechtl and Davidson 2007). There may be different instruments of cultural competence in an organization, especially international companies. In a global engineering, the senior staff should take intercultural competencies with some seriousness especially when dealing with the middle ranked staff who might be of different cultures. Therefore it is important to assess the senior staff intercultural competencies so that they may not harass other middle ranked staff based on their culture.

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Cultural values

Different cultures have different values and its ideas about what is good, what is bad, fair and just. However, the values are the most important aspects of cultures and how people perceive them hence guiding the people’s behaviours through influencing beliefs and attributes. Value system then helps the people to choose different alternatives in everyday activities through customs and certain modes of behaviours which are culturally approved. Believes and costumes are the ones who make values which vary from different countries, communities, and religions. The human core values affect and reflect the characters of certain people’s character especially their particular society. Values are hard to change because they always have roots from ascertaining culture is making them slow and difficult to change.

Cultural adjustment

According to Spencer-Oatey, and Franklin (2009) living culture that is different from own can be exciting and difficult at the same time. However, it is common for everyone to undergo cultural adjustment at some time in life especially international students. It is, therefore, important to understand the adjustment process and get support through the transition process to have a much full feeling experience in different culture. It might take the time to adapt to a new culture through the transition might also vary from different people. It is a bit better to interact with people of the same country but with the various cultures than interacting with people from different countries but will different cultures. Most people tend to experience culture shock when interacting with various communities due to confusion and disorientation.

Intercultural competence

Intercultural competence is the ability to interacts and communicate with other people from different cultures competently. It is becoming a major factor all around the world especially its relevance in employability and its increase in diversity in the current world we live.

Intercultural assessment tools

The best tool is the country navigator tool which is a web-based tool used to navigate between individual cultural differences and preferences. It is a useful tool especially for frequent travellers and can also be used in international companies to assist in internal team building and to work with multicultural teams.

Intercultural Effectiveness Scale (IES)

According to Zegarac, et al. (2009) this tool assists in understating ways to engage with other people from different culture. It also highlights the strengths of various global teams and also helps in developmental plans.

Intercultural conflict style inventory

ICSI tool is used to clarify influencing communication styles and their impact on collaboration culturally, and it’s also a tool for cross-cultural conflict resolution.

The tools stated above focuses on the interaction of different cultures through communication and preferences. They also act as a conflict resonators for different misunderstanding within different ethnicities and come up with better resolutions. The tools also help in an international organization in the interaction between then management and the staff.  The assessment tools are locally available from the web browsers mobile phone applications and can be used everywhere in the world. The tools are suitable every audience in the world from different cultures and communities. The set design for the tools is applications. Therefore, they can be assessed anywhere, everywhere in the world through the use of computers or mobile phones. According to Fantini (2009), He clarifies that the assessment tools are of high quality since they can be updated regularly by the developers hence giving the user the most recent version of the tools.

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Cultural values and how useful it is to probe this.

It is important to examine cultural values due to its complexity and behaviour of different people from different parts of the world.  Therefore they hold different standards which are acceptable or unacceptable to an individual community or society.

How values influence behaviour

Values are the greatest influence on behaviour because every person tries to emulate the type of conduct they hold valuable. The values shape the behaviour of people hence becoming a significant influence.

Cultural competence training

To some areas, while working mostly on commercials, it is important to undergo intercultural training to understand the different culture better. Most organizations train the staff especially from different areas and countries to understand different cultures like jangling between times zones, meeting schedules and learning the necessary cultural activities.

Global Competence Inventory (Kozai Group)

According to Prechtl, E., and Lund (2007), the global competence inventory is one of the most compressive self-assessment that Kozai group developed. However, it measures competencies of global leaders, corporate managers, and their competencies while working and interacting with people from another culture.

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The focus of intercultural practices matches the assessment purpose through intercultural adjustments from a different culture. The primary purpose is to adjust to the subject culture through learning gain even though it can be administered more than once. The wording is suited to the audience who are mainly students, engineers, and global travellers.

Some of the tools can be found free from the application galore while others have to be purchased from app stores in mobile phones and computers.


Since the tool is made to be used by people, it is user-friendly to everyone whom might want to use it. However, the users can rate it and scale how they have seen the importance or even review their experience while using the tool. It has a section of open questions which are electronically answered by the tool and also one can access the portfolio of the tool which is of great importance due to ratings and reviews by previous usurers.

Quality: Validity

The tool is based on solid conceptual base. Therefore, it will be accurate in measuring exactly what is needed. Its primary aim is to measure IC communication competence. However, the conceptual framework which underpins the design its ability to source the relevant information from the web. The tool also is used to measure the competence in relational management also through the utilization of the web.

According to Zegarac, et al. (2009) the tool measures accurately from the user. However, it is based on a valid conceptual basis which gives accurate information for the known cultures when searched.


Even if the tool measures accurately there is no agreement on competence which can be cited. According to statistics done by Spencer-Oatey, and Franklin, (2009) 70 percent of the people who have used the tool say it is competent but because it is a software and application tool it’s hard to see the standardization of its competence. The tool also has a problem because it doesn’t have an agreement on some of the key elements like communication and relational management are conceptualized. Some of this problems can be understood because it’s an electronic interface.

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According to Fantini (2009), the tool is known for consistency when measuring, but the challenges come from different small cultures which might not be recognized by the tool which might lead the instrument to interpret in a variety of ways. However, some items might meaningful to others than others, especially in small groups and cultures. The tool can be termed as the preferred answer even though minor social desirability might affect the results.

The INCA Project and Tools

INCA is a European project which is funded by Leonardo da Vinci II and has developed a framework of assessment tools which includes the INCA online and a portfolio which is used to assess the intercultural competence linked subject knowledge and language. All the products produced by INCA are tested in the engineering sector and are used by skilled intercultural managers. In all areas and service provisions, they are required to operate in different multicultural environments when either dealing with clients or with fellow colleagues.  In most countries like the UK, they have an obligation to demonstrate sensitivity and competence while dealing with people from different social cultures and backgrounds and that’s where this tool is most useful.


The main objective INCA is to develop a logical framework of intercultural competence and also manufacture instruments which are used in assessing intercultural jurisdiction to meet the needs of employers.

INCA have involved themselves in different areas of expertise ranging from academic, engineering and also the commercial sector. They have employees from various parts of the country from UK, Czech Republic, Germany, and Austria.

INCA have identified six component of Intercultural competence

  • Communicative awareness
  • Tolerance for ambiguity
  • Knowledge discovery.’
  • Empathy
  • Respect for others
  • Behavioural flexibility

Each element has three elements of motivation, knowledge, and behaviour.

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Intercultural competence also has three levels of competence from its members

  • Basic level
  • Intermediate level
  • Full level

Basic Level

A person can interact though it is not acceptable yet. At this stage, someone can differentiate different behaviours, norms, and values of a certain culture even though there is little understanding of the significance. The learner is also able to understand the need to manage his reactions to cultural surprises.

Intermediate Level

The learner can participate successfully on social, professional and official occurrences. The student can control the full range of formal and informal styles of behaviours and language. They respond effectively to verbal and nonverbal communications even though at times they might need interpreters.

Full Level

The learner has mastered all the controls and all forms of intercultural communications. At this stage, they can also deal skilfully with all types of circumstances including high-stress levels and situations Fantini (2009). They can understand all intended meaning in a variety of colloquialisms such as slung, and cultural references. The have fully mastered the cultural language and creative expressions.

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  1. Fantini, A. (2009). Assessing Intercultural Competence. In Deardorff, D. (ed.), Sage Handbook of Intercultural Competence. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 456-476.    Available online at
  2. Prechtl, E. and Davidson Lund, A. (2007). Intercultural competence and assessment: perspectives from the INCA Project. In Kolthoff, H. & Spencer-Oatey, H. (eds.) Handbook of Intercultural Communication. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, pp. 467–490.
  3. Prechtl, E. and Davidson Lund, A. (2007). Intercultural competence and assessment: perspectives from the INCA Project. In Kotthoff, H. & Spencer-Oatey, H. (eds.) Handbook of Intercultural Communication. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, pp. 467–490.
  4. Spencer-Oatey, H. (2011/2014) Achieving mutual understanding for effective intercultural management. Working paper. Available from
  5. Spencer-Oatey, H. and Franklin, P. (2009) Intercultural Interaction: A Multidisciplinary Approach to Intercultural Communication. Basingstoke: Palgrave.
  6. Spencer-Oatey, H. and Stadler, S. (2009) The Global People Competency Framework. Warwick Occasional Papers in Applied Linguistics, #3.  Section 4 on Cluster 2.
  7. Zegarac, V., Spencer-Oatey, H. & Ushioda, E. (2014) Conceptualizing mindfulness–mindlessness in intercultural interaction. International Journal of Language and Culture, 1(1), 75–97
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