Cultural Intelligence

A Review and Synthesis of its Antecedents, Impacts and Implications for International Human Resource Management

Bachelorarbeit, 2010

40 Seiten


Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations

1. Introduction

2. Cultural Intelligence as a Multidimensional Construct
2.1 Definition and Conceptualisation of Cultural Intelligence
2.2 Assessing Cultural Intelligence

3. Antecedents and Impacts of Cultural Intelligence
3.1 Determinants of Cultural Intelligence
3.2 Impacts of Cultural Intelligence

4. Implications for Theory and Practice

5. Summary and Outlook

List of References

Appendix I: The Cultural Intelligence Scale

Appendix II: The Observer Cultural Intelligence Scale

List of Abbreviations

illustration not visible in this excerpt

1. Introduction

The pace of globalisation has lead to an increasingly diversified workforce, emphasising the necessity of understanding cultural differences.[1] International teams, globally active organisations or international assignments are the result of globalisation and information technology.[2] Taking this change into consideration, the question arises why is it the case that some people are able to quickly adapt to new cultures and perform more efficiently than others in culturally diverse settings? Even though a person might perform well within his or her own culture, he or she may be inefficient when it comes to cross-cultural situations.[3] Due to the lack of research on intelligence from a cultural perspective, Earley and Ang developed the concept of cultural intelligence (hereafter CQ) to understand why some people manage intercultural interactions more efficiently than others. The purpose of this thesis is therefore to analyse CQ in order to apply this concept to international human resource management (hereafter HRM) practices by discussing theoretical and empirical research on its nature, impacts and implications.

The first part of this thesis introduces the concept of CQ by emphasising CQ as a multidimensional construct that is built on Sternberg and Dettermann’s foci of multiple intelligences.[4] Moreover, the concept of CQ will be differentiated from personality traits, other forms of intelligence, such as general mental ability (hereafter IQ) and emotional intelligence (hereafter EI), and other cross-cultural competencies. In order to understand how CQ can be measured the cultural intelligence scale (hereafter CQS), developed by Van Dyne, Ang und Koh, will be explained. In the second part, the question of what actually determines CQ will be answered by examining a nomological framework and the relation between personality and CQ. Moreover, impacts of CQ on interpersonal outcomes will be assessed by analysing existing studies and the influence of CQ on experiential learning will be highlighted. In the third part, implications for theory and practice will be discussed with a special emphasis on international HRM practices. Finally, the results of this thesis will be summarised and a conclusion will be drawn by giving rise to still unanswered questions for future research.

2. Cultural Intelligence as a Multidimensional Construct

Research on intelligence already started one hundred years ago, but it is still an incomplete issue. Traditional research focused on cognitive aspects, i.e. logical- mathematical intelligence, as a one-dimensional general factor in academic settings. However, Gardner proposed that intelligence should be rather seen as a network of multiple aspects.[5] Responding to his findings, the traditional view was questioned and new forms of intelligence, such as emotional and social intelligence, emerged.[6] Due to the need of understanding individuals’ effectiveness in cross-cultural situations, Earley and Ang developed the concept of CQ based on this new view of intelligence.[7] In the following chapter, CQ will be conceptualised, the multidimensionality of this construct will be explained and the CQS will be discussed.

2.1 Definition and Conceptualisation of Cultural Intelligence

In order to understand why some individuals are able to quickly adapt to new cultures and why they reach efficient outcomes in cross-cultural settings compared to others, it is crucial to consider the concept of CQ.[8] CQ, as defined by Earley and Ang, represents “a person ’ s capability for successful adaption to new cultural settings, that is, for unfamiliar settings attributable to cultural context.[9] However, the meaning of CQ depends on the particular context of application. For instance, CQ can be defined as the capability to adjust to other cultures in, e.g. international assignments, but it may as well be understood as intelligent behaviours displayed in distinct cultures.[10] This thesis will mainly follow Earley and Ang’s definition of CQ as a multidimensional construct, as this concept is mostly acknowledged and used in the existing literature on CQ. Nonetheless, a short overview of other definitions will be presented. First, Thomas defines CQ as a three-dimensional construct consisting of knowledge, mindfulness and behaviour.[11] Knowledge refers to understanding what culture is and how it influences behaviour. Moreover, Thomas stresses that knowledge includes the ability of an individual to connect its own cultural norms, values and beliefs to culturally different persons. It further includes understanding the way culture affects motivation. Mindfulness is defined as the linking component of behaviour and knowledge. It is a metacognitive strategic component and refers to being aware of the current situation and includes the willingness to change one’s thought processes and advancing one’s own perspective. Behaviour describes a person’s ability to exhibit appropriate conduct in cross-cultural situations by making use of his or her mindfulness.[12] Second, Brislin, Worthley and Macnab suggest that culturally intelligent people follow a four step model which allows them to perform better in culturally diverse situations. These four steps include identifying behaviour, understanding why this behaviour is displayed, thinking about consequences and making use of this new knowledge and understanding.[13] Third, Mosakowski and Earley describe CQ as consisting of cognitive, physical and emotional/behavioural aspects. They state that CQ is determined in the head, the body and the heart. The cognitive component refers to the head, defining the level of knowledge about the other culture. The physical component refers to the body and describes individuals’ behaviour, mimic and gesture. Finally, the emotional/behavioural aspect is placed in the heart, relating to one’s confidence in new cultural situations.[14]

After having outlined other views on CQ, the focus now will be on the four factor model of CQ as it was defined by Earley and Ang. According to their definition, CQ is based on the construct of multiple intelligences by Detterman and Sternberg and thus, can be reliably classified as intelligence.[15] Integrating Gardner’s proposal that intelligence is not merely the ability to function effectively in academic settings, this multidimensional framework consists of metacognitive, cognitive, motivational and behavioural dimensions.[16] This four factor model will be explained in the following.

The Four Factor Model of Cultural Intelligence

While metacognitive intelligence is defined as the procedure of receiving knowledge and the ability to control cognition, cognitive intelligence refers to the level and composition of this knowledge. Motivational intelligence realises the necessity of an individual to devote energy to the acquisition of knowledge in order to fulfil a task. The last aspect, behavioural intelligence, relates to the ability of an individual to exhibit appropriate verbal and nonverbal behaviour.[17]

With regard to culturally diverse settings, metacognitive CQ refers to an individual’s ability to control its thoughts and to acquire relevant information about the other culture during cross-cultural interactions. In addition, it defines the level of awareness and consciousness of cultural differences. A person with high metacognitive CQ observes individuals from other cultures, adapts and challenges its own culture. The acquired information enables the individual to enrich its knowledge about appropriate behaviour in new cultural settings.[18] Triandis added an important feature to the concept of metacognitive CQ, namely, the ability to suspend judgment. He argues that individuals who possess a high level of metacognitve CQ monitor critically, however, do not judge before enough information has been acquired.[19] This is noteworthy as too often early judgments and stereotype thinking lead to misunderstandings, particularly in cross- cultural situations. Therefore, metacognitive CQ is often referred to as the ability to strategise.[20]

Cognitive CQ defines the level of understanding and knowing about other cultures, its norms, customs and legal, political and cultural environment. Individuals with high cognitive CQ are not only aware of similarities but also of differences between the relevant cultures. The amount of knowledge a person possesses results from personal experience as well as education. Cognitive CQ is crucial as it enables individuals to better understand the behaviour of other people and it increases the chance of successful interaction with people from different cultures.[21]

Motivational CQ refers to the level of energy an individual displays to learn about the other culture and the intention to perform efficiently in cross-cultural interactions. It is based on the Expectancy-Value Theory of Motivation, which states that the amount of energy is determined by the expected level of success in fulfilling the task and the respective value of doing so.[22] Thus, motivational CQ includes both, intrinsic as well as extrinsic motivation. While the first refers to the level of satisfaction attained from interacting with other cultures, the latter describes tangible assets received.[23]

The last component, behavioural CQ, is crucial in order to be able to use one’s knowledge and motivation appropriately. It includes verbal and nonverbal actions and the type of speech. Most importantly, individuals with high behavioural CQ know when they should employ what kind of behaviour.[24] This component is particularly important as behaviour appears to be that factor which is most often recognised by the other party and which can determine the outcome or the further course of a cross-cultural interaction. These four dimensions together form the multidimensional construct of CQ. Therefore, each facet, metacognitive, cognitive, motivational and behavioural CQ, represents a distinct aspect of the overall ability to perform in cross-cultural interactions.[25] In order to explain the concept of CQ in more detail and to acquire a deeper understanding of this construct, the next section differentiates CQ from personality, other forms of intelligence and cross-cultural competencies.

Differentiating Cultural Intelligence

Ang and Van Dyne argued that CQ is broadly based on individual differences, namely, capability, personality and interest. However, since CQ is defined as intelligence it relates to capabilities and thus, it has to be distinguished from personality, interests and outcomes. Furthermore, Ang and Van Dyne emphasise CQ as a “specific individual difference construct”,[26] which is, however, not related to a specific culture.[27] Hence, CQ is specific as it relates to the ability to manage cross-cultural situations, but does not relate to the ability to, for instance, perform well in France. Assuming that CQ changes with the level of international experience and education, it is classified as a statelike individual difference in contrast to personality, a traitlike individual difference which develops during early socialisation.[28] As it will be shown later on, personality relates positively to CQ. However, CQ as an individual’s capability refers to possible actions, while personality defines how an individual typically behaves. Thus, although CQ is influenced by personality traits, it is still distinct from personality.[29]

In comparison with other intelligences, such as IQ and EI, some similarities can be observed. Although CQ, IQ and EI all refer to capabilities, CQ has to be distinguished from both forms of intelligence. First, IQ is defined as the ability to learn and it determines, for instance, an individuals’ job performance. Nevertheless, it does not refer to a particular situation, such as cross-cultural settings, and it is neither composed of a behavioural nor a motivational dimension of intelligence. Second, EI is defined as an individuals’ ability to cope with emotions. Both concepts, CQ and EI, are similar in that they do not merely refer to academic settings; thus, they go beyond the traditional view of intelligence. However, EI develops in one’s culture and therefore is specific to that culture. High EI in one culture does not mean high EI in another culture. Hence, while EI is relevant only within one culture, CQ refers to culturally diverse situations.[30]

As a last distinction, it is crucial to stress that CQ should not be interchanged with other cross-cultural competencies. Compared with CQ, existing scales to measure intercultural competence are not based on the theory of multiple intelligences. Furthermore, they are often characterised by inconsistency, as for example different kinds of individual differences, such as personality and capability, are mixed which gives rise to challenging the validity of cross-cultural competencies.[31] Therefore, it is important to differentiate CQ from personality, other intelligences and intercultural competencies, as it is a specific individual difference capability built on the concept of multidimensional intelligence. Now that the nature of CQ has been clarified, the focus of the following section will be on its measurement.

2.2 Assessing Cultural Intelligence

As already mentioned before, other scales to assess cross-cultural competencies do not build on the coeval view of intelligence and often mix individual differences and are therefore no reliable measures. Responding to this issue, Van Dyne, Ang and Koh developed a questionnaire, the CQS, in order to measure an individual’s CQ.[32] Moreover, they tested its validity in order to be sure that this scale can contribute meaningfully to existing research. In this section, the construction of the CQS and its validity will be outlined.

Constructing the Cultural Intelligence Scale

By making use of existing literature about cross-cultural adjustment and by interviewing eight executives with international experience, Van Dyne, Ang and Koh defined the four components of CQ, metacognitive, cognitive, motivational and behavioural CQ. In order to take psychometric subtlety into consideration, they constructed a first draft of the questionnaire consisting of 53 questions characterised by positive words, easy and direct speech. After three researchers and three international executives evaluated the scale according to clarity and relevance, an initial questionnaire of 40 items remained. In total, six studies were undertaken to construct the final 20 item scale for assessing CQ. In the first study, 576 Singaporean business school undergraduates completed the initial 40 item questionnaire. The participants had to rank the statements from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree). The aim was to verify the four-dimensionality of CQ using Confirmatory Factor Analysis (hereafter CFA). After correcting the scale for extreme values and other inconsistencies, e.g low-correlation items, the CQS consisting of 20 final statements had been constructed.[33] The CQS includes four metacognitive CQ, five motivational and behavioural CQ and six cognitive CQ items. By employing CFA the CQS showed good fit. Moreover, the CQS was compared to other possible models as for example a model consisting of only two factors, namely, metacognitive versus cognitive CQ and motivational versus behavioural CQ. This comparison additionally confirmed the four factor model of CQ.[34] The constructed CQS includes statements as for instance: “I am conscious of the cultural knowledge I apply to cross-cultural interactions”[35] for metacognitive CQ, “I know the cultural values and religious beliefs of other cultures”[36] for cognitive CQ, “I enjoy interacting with people from different cultures”[37] for motivational CQ, and “I change my verbal behaviour (e.g., accent, tone) when a cross-cultural interaction requires it”[38] for behavioural CQ. In order to verify the validity of the CQS, five other studies were undertaken which will be explained in the following.

Validity and Reliability of the Cultural Intelligence Scale

In the second study, another 447 Singaporean undergraduates completed the CQS in order to verify its generalisability across samples.[39] Results demonstrated good fit of the four factor model and additionally supported the validity of the CQS. In order to show factor invariance across time, 204 participants of the second study completed the questionnaire four months later. Results again demonstrated good fit of the four factor model of CQ and in addition, their assumption that CQ is malleable was confirmed. For the CQS to be valid across countries, in the fourth study 337 US-American pupils were asked to complete the CQS. Equivalence of the results of the study in Singapore and the study in the USA was assessed using sequential tests of model invariance. This comparison demonstrated no variance; thus, allowing for the generalisability of the CQS across countries.[40] The fifth study aimed at generalising the CQS across models by changing the self-rating CQS into an observer CQS.[41] To give an example, the statement of cognitive CQ “I enjoy interacting with people from different cultures”[42] was changed into “This person enjoys interacting with people from different cultures”.[43] In order for the CQS to be valid across models, the results of the self-rated CQS should be equivalent to the results of the observer CQS. To measure validity of the CQS across models, 142 managers, attending an executive MBA program in the USA, completed the self-rating CQS and the observer CQS for a randomly chosen other participant. Convergence, discriminant and criterion validity of the CQS was proven via the multitrait multimethod techniques. In the last study, 251 respondents from the second study and 249 respondents from the fourth study were tested according to their EI, IQ, cultural judgment and decision making (hereafter CJDM), interactional adjustment, and mental well-being. First of all, the discriminant validity of the four factors of the CQ compared to EI, cognitive intelligence, CJDM, interactional adjustment, and mental well-being was assessed using CFA. Results demonstrated good fit of this nine-factor model. Second, incremental validity of CQ over and above demographics, EI and IQ in forecasting interactional adjustment, CJDM and mental well-being was tested. To measure CJDM respondents had to rate five cross-cultural interactions scenarios.[44] Interactional adjustment was measured by asking the participants to rate from 1 (extremely unadjusted) to 7 (extremely adjusted) how well they had adjusted to their “current situation in terms of socialising with people, interacting with people on a day- to-day basis and getting along with people”.[45] Mental well-being was measured by letting participants rate from 1 (not at all) to 7 (to a very great extent) their general mental well-being at that time: “Able to concentrate on whatever you have been doing, feel that you are playing a useful part, feel capable of making decisions, and able to face up to your responsibilities”.[46] IQ was assessed using the Wonderlic Personnel Test (hereafter WPT) of problem solving ability. In order to measure EI participants had to complete eight items from the Schutte et al. scale including statements as for instance “I arrange events that others enjoy”.[47] After combining the two samples from study 2 and study 4, in total 500 students, discriminant and incremental validity of CQ in relation to CJDM, mental well-being, interactional adjustment, IQ, and EI was confirmed using CFA. The overall results of the six studies demonstrate that the 20 item CQS is a reliable measure to assess an individual’s CQ. Discriminant as well as incremental validity of CQ confirms the legitimacy of the CQS. Moreover, the four-factor structure of CQ and its stability across countries, samples and time had been verified.[48]

Thus far, the concept of CQ as a multidimensional construct has been explained and verified. The purpose was to understand this concept by differentiating it from other intelligences, cross-cultural competencies and personality and by explaining the tool that is used to measure CQ. Now that the concept of CQ and the way it can be assessed reliably has been discussed in depth, the question arises what actually determines CQ and what are its impacts? Therefore, the focus of the following chapter will be on understanding antecedents and impacts of CQ on individual interactions across cultures.

3. Antecedents and Impacts of Cultural Intelligence

With the intention of assessing determinants and influences of CQ, this chapter places the concept of CQ into a broader nomological framework as depicted in Figure 1. The first section presents a theoretical reasoning and an empirical analysis about the antecedents of CQ by emphasising its relation to distal factors, e.g. personality, and other forms of intelligence. The second section analyses empirically what impacts CQ has on performance, CJDM, cultural adaption, and intercultural negotiations. Figure 1 will therefore on the one hand serve as a guideline and on the other represents a summary of the empirical as well as theoretical findings of this chapter.

Figure 1 Nomological Framework of CQ

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Source: Adapted from Ang/Van Dyne (2008), p. 11.


[1] See Ang/Van Dyne (2008), p. 3.

[2] See Ang/Inkpen (2008), p. 337.

[3] See Earley/Ang (2003), p. 4.

[4] See Ang/Van Dyne (2008), p. 3.

[5] See Earley/Ang (2003), pp. 1-2.

[6] See Ang/Van Dyne (2008), p. 4.

[7] See loc. cit.

[8] See loc. cit.

[9] Earley/Ang (2003), p. 9.

[10] See Brislin/Wothley/Macnab (2006), p. 40.

[11] See Thomas (2006), pp. 80-81.

[12] See Thomas (2006), pp. 78-89.

[13] See Brislin/Worthley/Macnab (2006), pp. 42-44.

[14] See Earley/Mosakowski (2005), pp. 140-142.

[15] See Ang/Van Dyne (2008), p. 4.

[16] See Van Dyne/Ang/Nielsen (2007), pp. 345-346.

[17] See Ang/Van Dyne (2008), p. 4.

[18] See loc. cit., p. 5.

[19] See Triandis (2006), pp. 2-3.

[20] See Van Dyne/Ang/Livermore (2009), p. 7.

[21] See Ang/Van Dyne (2008), pp. 5-6.

[22] See loc. cit., p. 6.

[23] See Ang et al. (2007), p. 338.

[24] See Van Dyne/Ang/Livermore (2009), pp. 5-9.

[25] See Ang/Van Dyne (2008), p. 7.

[26] Loc. cit.

[27] See loc. cit.

[28] See Van Dyne/Ang/Nielsen (2007), p. 346.

[29] See Ang/Van Dyne (2008), p. 8.

[30] See loc. cit., pp. 8-9.

[31] See loc. cit., p. 9.

[32] See Van Dyne/Ang/Koh (2009), p. 233.

[33] See Appendix I.

[34] See Van Dyne/Ang/Koh (2009), pp. 237-238.

[35] Van Dyne/Ang/Koh (2008), p. 20.

[36] Loc. cit.

[37] Loc. cit.

[38] Van Dyne/Ang/Koh (2008), p. 20.

[39] See loc. cit., p. 22.

[40] See loc. cit., pp. 24-26.

[41] See Appendix II.

[42] Van Dyne/Ang/Koh (2009), p. 27.

[43] Loc. cit.

[44] See Van Dyne/Ang/Koh (2008), pp. 26-31.

[45] Loc. cit., p. 31.

[46] Loc. cit.

[47] Loc. cit.

[48] See loc. cit., pp. 31-36.

Ende der Leseprobe aus 40 Seiten


Cultural Intelligence
A Review and Synthesis of its Antecedents, Impacts and Implications for International Human Resource Management
Otto-von-Guericke-Universität Magdeburg  (Faculty of Economics and Management)
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Buch)
611 KB
cultural, intelligence, review, synthesis, antecedents, impacts, implications, international, human, resource, management
Arbeit zitieren
Corinna Nefzger (Autor:in), 2010, Cultural Intelligence, München, GRIN Verlag,


  • Noch keine Kommentare.
Im eBook lesen
Titel: Cultural Intelligence

Ihre Arbeit hochladen

Ihre Hausarbeit / Abschlussarbeit:

- Publikation als eBook und Buch
- Hohes Honorar auf die Verkäufe
- Für Sie komplett kostenlos – mit ISBN
- Es dauert nur 5 Minuten
- Jede Arbeit findet Leser

Kostenlos Autor werden