Bridging Cultures

Cultural Intelligence

Essay, 2011

8 Pages, Grade: 75%



The aim of this essay is to discuss different theories of cultural intelligence (CI). It will first explain how the concept of CI evolved, then define cultural intelligence by discussing different definitions and theories of CI. Differences between emotional and cultural intelligence will be outlined and why CI may be relevant to global transition and interactions between people from different cultural backgrounds will be explained. Finally, the correlation between CI and personality traits will be discussed and the potential relevance of this for the development of cultural intelligence will be argued.

For many years intelligence has been measured with the Intelligence Quotient (IQ). Various scholars and theorists would not accept the narrow concept of IQ and searched for a concept that would take in a wider range of aspects.

An early theory that emerged is the idea of Social Intelligence (SI). This is the ability to interact with and understand other human beings and maintain relationships (Thorndike, 1937). From SI the idea of Emotional Intelligence (EI) evolved, which was researched by various theorists. Mayer and Salovey (1997) say EI is the ability to use emotions as a source of information to successfully interact in a social environment. Goleman (1996) however, introduced a multidimensional model, which focused on a wider range of abilities such as social and self-awareness and relationship management.

The Theory of Multiple Intelligences by Gardner (1983) goes even further. He suggests there are several forms of intelligence such as linguistic, spatial or musical intelligences. Gardner’s interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligences can be related to EI as they target the ability of understanding your own emotions and using them to interact with others.

Earley and Mosakowski (2004) believe that international managers need more than a high IQ or EQ to be successful. To effectively manage a company in a foreign country cultural intelligence is needed. This is supported by Alon and Higgins (2005) who suggest that an international manager needs IQ, EQ and CQ to be successful in every environment and culture. The concept of CI evolved simultaneously with an increasing global business environment leading to a higher need of cultural understanding.

Various researchers have different opinions of what CI is and how it can be defined. An early concept of CI is Bennett’s (1993) Development Model of Intercultural Sensitivity. It argues that people go through different stages of cultural awareness. The scale ranges from ethnocentrism to ethnorelativism. With growing experience, people develop a higher cultural sensitivity. This theory differs from most others as it suggests every person starts at the same point of cultural awareness. In other words, there are no differences in the CI of different people, as everyone goes through the same progress of cultural sensitivity development (Bennett, 1986).


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Bridging Cultures
Cultural Intelligence
Queensland University of Technology
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ISBN (eBook)
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bridging, cultures, cultural, intelligence
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Dominique Wagner (Author), 2011, Bridging Cultures, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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