The Selection of Interculturally Competent Leaders. Measuring Intercultural Competence within Job Interviews

Master's Thesis, 2014

101 Pages





List of Figures

List of Tables

List of Appendices

List of Acronyms

1 Research Purpose and Objectives
1.1 Aims and Objectives
1.2 Research Procedure
1.3 Potential Limitations
1.4 Structure

2 Review of Key Literature
2.1 Global Leadership
2.2 Conceptualisation of Cultural Intelligence
2.3 Assessing Global Leadership Competencies
2.4 Selecting Culturally Competent Leaders
2.5 Development of the L-CQA
2.6 Summary

3 Research Methods
3.1 Research Procedure
3.2 Method of Data Collection
3.3 Data Evaluation
3.4 Ethical Considerations
3.5 Trustworthiness
3.6 Limitations
3.7 Summary

4 Data Evaluation
4.1 Meta-Cognitive CQ
4.2 Cognitive CQ
4.3 Motivational CQ
4.4 Behavioural CQ
4.5 Evaluation of the Overall L-CQA
4.6 Summary

5 Conclusion and Recommendations

6 References

7 Appendices


The Selection of Interculturally Competent Leaders – Measuring Intercultural

Competence within Job Interviews

Author Alicia Utz

Research indicates that the capability to operate successfully in culturally diverse situations (CQ) has become a precondition for effective global leadership in times of globalisation and company diversification. Responding to calls to examine CQ as a predictor of selection into global leadership positions, this dissertation aimed to develop a selection tool to successfully assess leaders’ CQ within job interviews.

For this purpose, literature was examined to firstly investigate necessary competencies of interculturally competent leaders. Secondly, it was reviewed to obtain knowledge of how to design a valid indicator for the selection process with an effective predictive value of the candidate’s future performance. Following these findings, the draft of the CQ Assessment Tool for Interculturally Competent Leaders (L-CQA) was developed. The draft was thereupon handed to professionals asking to assess its appropriateness, applicability, and real-live potential. Based upon the assessments’ evaluation, the final L-CQA was designed.

The findings of this dissertation pinpoint the necessity of placing explicit emphasis on selecting leaders with the potential to function effectively in culturally diverse settings. The L-CQA was developed to provide rich insights of a candidate’s vocational aptitude and their future behaviour. Thus, this research gives valuable implications for organisations to choose the most capable person to be an interculturally competent leader. Recommendations are offered for further research possibilities, which is hoped to be translated into useful practical implications for organisations and individuals.


It would not have been possible to write this Masters dissertation without the help and support of the kind people back home and of those I met in Edinburgh. Although, it is impossible to list everyone individually, who was a part of my academic journey, I would like to mention a few people specifically who were a great support.

Firstly, I would like to sincerely thank my supervisor Dr Mary Fischer for all her great support, advice and guidance at all times. I would also like to acknowledge the support of the participants who generously gave their valuable contributions and recommendations, and who believed in the outcome of my dissertation.

I am most grateful to Alina Strodthoff not just for her outstanding support throughout the dissertation and the whole year but also for being an amazing friend, I am grateful to have her in my life. I would also specifically express my great appreciation to Enrico Marconcini, who gave me his support throughout the year and always believed in me. I also thank my fellow students for all their kindness, friendships and support.

Above all, I would like to thank my family, Sylvia Spirres, Maxilimilan Utz, and Thordis Spirres, for their infinite support and faith in me and without whom I would not have been able to live my dreams.

List of Figures

Figure 1 – Global Leadership Mindset Model

Figure 2 – The Four Factor Model of Cultural Intelligence

Figure 3 – Development Process of the L-CQA

Figure 4 – The Structure of the Final L-CQA

List of Tables

Table 1 – The Global Mindset

Table 2 – A Framework of Nested Global Leadership Competencies

List of Appendices

Appendix 1 – The 20-item Cultural Intelligence Scale

Appendix 2– The Expanded Cultural Intelligence Scale

Appendix 3 – The Draft of the CQ Assessment Tool for Interculturally Competent


Appendix 4 – The Final L-CQA

Appendix 5 – Open-ended questions for the interview with the professionals

Appendix 6 – Exemplary Written Comments of Professional on Meta-cognitive


Appendix 7 – Exemplary Interview Transcription

List of Acronyms

CIC – Cultural Intelligence Center

CIPD – The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development

CQ – Cultural Competence or Cultural Intelligence

CQS – The 20-item Cultural Intelligence Scale

E - CQS – The Expanded Cultural Intelligence Scale

E Q – Emotional Intelligence

IQ – General Mental Ability

L-CQA – CQ Assessment Tool for Interculturally Competent Leaders

1 Research Purpose and Objectives

To date, a considerable amount of literature has been published on culture, which has become a key research topic in various fields (Taras et al., 2012). Nevertheless, there is no final definition of a generally agreed-upon term even though the construct ‘culture’ is widely known and applied (Taras et al., 2009). Notwithstanding this, culture is described as a “complex multi-level construct”, which is “shared among individuals belonging to a group or society”, and moreover, “formed over a relatively long period”, thus, “relative[ly] stable” (Taras et al., 2009, p. 358). In the contemporary workplace, the workforce represents a mosaic of cultural identities caused by increasing internationalisation and globalisation (e.g. Beauregard & Henry, 2009; Mullins, 2010). This phenomenon is termed ‘cultural diversity’, and describes any considerable distinctions that differentiate one person from another, including both visible and invisible qualities (cf. Mor-Barak, 2011). Mismanaged or ignored by organisations, these differences can cause misunderstandings and jeopardise efficient and effective interactions (e.g. Takeuchi et al., 2002; Ang et al., 2006; Adler, 2002; Gelfand et al., 2001; Lievens et al., 2003). To successfully deal with cultural diversity as “the co- existence of people from various socio-cultural backgrounds” (Kautish, 2012, p. 37) in an intercultural setting, the capability “to function effectively in a variety of cultural contexts” (Livermore, 2011, p. xiii) is therefore required. This capability is termed ‘cultural intelligence’ or ‘intercultural competence’. Both terms are used synonymously throughout this dissertation and are also represented by the acronym CQ.

Rationale and Research Background

In recent years, there has been an increasing amount of literature on CQ. This literature suggests that the capability to operate successfully in culturally diverse situations has become a precondition for effective international leadership in times of globalisation and company diversification (e.g. Manning, 2003; Ang et al., 2007; Kim & Van, 2012; Gelfand et al., 2007; Rockstuhl et al., 2010). The emergence of CQ research and the corresponding increase of cultural prominence provide a new and sophisticated framework for scholars to investigate what makes great global leaders as well as to identify their necessary intercultural competencies (Ang et al., 2007; Gelfand et al., 2008). There is an increasing consensus that global leaders possess core characteristics, context-specific abilities, and universal leadership capabilities (Jokinen, 2005). Bird (2013), however, points out that much still needs to be done to ascertain universal skills. The importance of interculturally competent leaders has also been recognised in organisations and human resource departments: according to a recent survey of Chief Human Resources Officers, Caligiuri (2013) states that human resource departments’ most crucial task is to develop future leaders. This, however, is likewise one of their least successful abilities since it is adversely affected by three erroneous assumptions: firstly, that anyone can become interculturally competent, secondly, that all experience on an international scale is developmental, and thirdly, that the development of CQ amongst employees is supported by all global organisations. In fact, individuals’ proficiency to develop cross-cultural competencies depends on their natural characteristics (Caligiuri, 2013). Similar findings were provided by a study of the Boston Consulting Group about leadership development programs’ effectiveness of 4,000 companies: according to Torres (2014), more than half of the investigated companies failed to cultivate enough successful leaders.

From the findings of these studies, it can therefore be assumed that the successful development of future leaders starts with the selection of personnel who are most likely to become culturally sensitive leaders. Since leaders obtain a unique responsibility in acting in cross-border contexts they need to “dynamically meet the challenges of serving a diverse customer base at home and abroad, as well as become effective participants of culturally diverse teams” (Livermore, 2011, p. 14).

This arguably makes the process of recruitment and selection fundamental for an organisation’s international success. Nevertheless, despite the fact that the importance of interculturally intelligent leaders has been recognised (cf. Kim & Van, 2012), selection and recruitment still frequently remains “intuitive and unsystematic” (Lievens et al., 2003, p. 476). This underlines the need to further investigate the field of global leadership and cultural competence with consideration of human resource management. Such investigation would enhance the understanding of how to successfully assess leaders’ cultural intelligence within job interviews. Torres (2014) points out that in the 21st century, traditional leadership assessments are no longer able to determine whether the candidate possesses the required qualities of an interculturally competent leader. To date, as far as can be found in the literature, there is no instrument yet available that measures a potential leader’s CQ within a job interview. The aim of this dissertation therefore is to develop a new and valid indicator to do precisely this (cf. Torres, 2014). By using such a selection tool, organisations might gain the ability to more effectively predict a candidate’s prospective performance within a global environment (cf. Zaharie & Osoian, 2013). Thus, they can improve their leadership development programs, which will enable leaders to grow to their true potential – people

“who are preparing themselves not for the comfortable predictability of yesterday but also for the realities of today and all of those unknown possibilities of tomorrow” (Torres, 2014, n.p.).

1.1 Aims and Objectives

In order to justify the reason for investigating the topic chosen, this section provides a comprehensive research aim as well as clear and precise objectives to meet it.


The aim of this dissertation is to design a selection tool to ascertain a leader’s capability to manage culturally diverse situations. This tool is named CQ Assessment Tool for Interculturally Competent Leaders and is also referred to as L-CQA.


The objectives are itemised as follows:

- To critically examine business and cross-cultural management literature in order to investigate previously identified characteristics of interculturally competent leaders within these areas.

The purpose of this first objective is to undertake a comprehensive and critical review of global leadership and cultural competency literature in order to identify various expectations on leaders which will inform the L-CQA’s content.

- To critically investigate the literature regarding personnel selection.

As selection is highly subjective, this objective’s purpose is to gain a thorough understanding of the challenges contemporary organisations and human resource departments face by selecting an interculturally competent and effective leader.

- Based upon the findings of the literature review, to develop a theoretically informed draft of the L-CQA.

The first three objectives serve as a foundation for the theoretically informed draft of the L-CQA to evaluate a leader’s intercultural competence within a job interview.

- To identify how professionals from three different areas evaluate the L-CQA.

The purpose of the fourth objective is to obtain clear information from intercultural communication, human resource management and leadership professionals in order to identify real-life experiences and expectations on interculturally competent leaders.

- Based on an evaluation of the professionals’ assessments, to refine the L- CQA.

The final objective purposes to enhance the theoretically informed L-CQA with practical information. Thus, providing a valid and comprehensive instrument that arguably helps organisations to choose the most capable person from a pool of applicants to be an effective leader in situations characterised by cultural diversity.

1.2 Research Procedure

To develop a valid selection indicator, a thorough and selective literature review will firstly be conducted. Based upon the findings, the draft of the L-CQA will be designed. Subsequently, comments, recommendations, and suggestions of two intercultural communication professionals, two leadership professionals, and two human resource management professionals will be collected both orally and in writing. It will follow an evaluation of the obtained data, which will then be taken into account in the final L-CQA.

1.3 Potential Limitations

Despite the benefits that this dissertation is believed to achieve, this study also contains certain limitations. For example, several issues arose through the use of a multiple-method approach regarding the data collection. Throughout Chapter 3, however, careful thoughts will be given to ways of accounting limitations in order to minimise their restricting impact, thus, ensuring the dissertation’s trustworthiness.

1.4 Structure

The dissertation is organised as follows: Chapter 2 provides a background discussion of leading concepts, theories, and existing frameworks that have been identified by key literature and relate to the research topic. It further provides information about how the L-CQA was developed. Chapter 3 subsequently describes the research methods used in this dissertation. In Chapter 4 the professionals’ comments and recommendations are evaluated, upon which the final L-CQA is developed. The final chapter of this dissertation draws conclusions and gives recommendations as well as implications for future research.

2 Review of Key Literature

The purpose of this review is to provide a background discussion of leading concepts, theories, and existing frameworks that have been identified by key literature and relate to the research topic. Its purpose is to theoretically support the development of the selection tool that aims to ascertain a leader’s intercultural competence in a job interview. In light of this, three major areas were critically reviewed: global leadership literature, intercultural communication as well as human resources management literature. Based upon the findings, this chapter then illustrates the different stages of the development of the L-CQA. The summary lastly gives an overview of how the literature informed the author’s understanding of existing research and how it contributes to the ongoing development of the dissertation.

2.1 Global Leadership

In order to develop a tool to select interculturally competent leaders, it is important to firstly identify the expectations on and essential characteristics of great global leaders. Over the past century, a considerable amount of research has been published on leadership. This literature has investigated leadership skills, leadership behaviour, and the appreciation of both leaders and their followers (cf. Bass, 2002; Judge et al., 2004; Yukl, 1989). Nevertheless, there is a degree of uncertainty around the definition or concept of leadership. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD; 2013a, n.p.) suggests that leadership may be defined as “the capacity to influence people, by means of personal attributes and/or behaviours, to achieve a common goal”. Yet, such strategic leadership research offers important insights into the nature of global leadership. As early as 1997, Spreitzer et al. pointed out that global leaders have a unique responsibility as they need to act in cross-border contexts. The interest to investigate this responsibility provides the framework for the study of global leadership. Rockstuhl et al. (2010, p. 12) further point out that “in increasingly globalised business environments, leaders are confronted with the complex role of managing people from diverse cultural backgrounds”. Continuing globalisation and internationalisation therefore necessitates leaders who are capable to function effectively across any type of culture (Mannor, 2008; Ng et al., 2009b; Ang & Van Dyne, 2008; Earley & Ang, 2003). Similarly, Alon and Higgins (2005) suggest that global leadership is grounded in general mental ability (IQ), emotional intelligence (EI) as well as cultural intelligence. Hence, leaders are not just expected to be intellectually capable (Judge et al., 2004), indeed, they also need to lead and interact in an emotionally sensitive manner with persons from both the same (Caruso et al., 2002) and different cultural backgrounds (Van Dyne et al., 2010). Over the past two decades, attempts have been made to examine global leadership tasks (Caligiuri, 2006), to develop assessment tools (Spreitzer et al., 1997) or training programmes (Suutari, 2002). Notwithstanding this, Mannor (2008) points out that little research has explored the specific capabilities global leaders need to adapt to a variety of cultural contexts.

Both scholars and practitioners responded to this empirical gap and have tried to investigate, understand, and develop essential competencies and skills needed by global leaders (cf. amongst others Bartlett & Ghoshal, 2008; Beechler & Javidan, 2007; Bird et al., 2010; Jokinen, 2005; Osland, 2008). A considerable amount of global leadership literature highlights the increasing interest in investigating general competencies. Yet, the findings show some inaccuracy since there is no consensus on defining the construct ‘global leadership’ (Pless et al., 2011; Osland et al., 2006). Accordingly, some scholars tend to use the terms ‘global leader’ and ‘global manager’ interchangeably (Mendenhall et al., 2012) although leadership literature clearly distinguishes these notions separately (Kotter, 1990a; 1990b). According to Mendenhall and colleagues (2012), this degree of uncertainty around the concept of global leadership leads to confusion. In order to minimise the uncertainty, and thus inaccuracy and confusion, they provide a recent definition of global leadership on the basis of existing definitions, which is also used throughout this dissertation:

“[t]he process of influencing others to adopt a shared vision through structures and methods that facilitate positive change while fostering individual and collective growth in a context characterized by significant levels of complexity [contextual dimension], flow [relational dimension] and presence [spatial-temporal dimension]” (Mendenhall et al., 2012, p. 500).

Despite the difficulties to agree on one universal global mindset, valuable contributions in the field of global leadership enhance the general understanding of what characteristics and intercultural competencies great global leaders are expected to possess. The following paragraph gives an overview of the complexity of the fairly new field of global leadership in order to identify the most valuable framework to develop a selection tool for interculturally competent leaders.

Competencies and Skills of Global Leaders – Global Mindset

A first interesting contribution, for example, is suggested by Cohen (2010). He stated that great global leaders possess a ‘global mindset’, which is composed of holistic competencies (for reviews, see Osland, 2013a; Jokinen, 2005). Global leaders would need to be equipped with these competencies to make strategic decisions in global business settings (Begley & Boyd, 2003). Included in these holistic competencies are the following elements: knowledge, skills, abilities and other personality characteristics (KSAOs) (Caligiuri, 2006). Knowledge refers to a changeable set of facts or information about a given content and varies among individuals (Landy & Conte, 2010). In context of global leadership, it can be divided into culture-general, culture-specific, and international business knowledge (Caligiuri, 2006). Intercultural interaction skills, foreign language skills, and cognitive ability are suggested skills and abilities to be globally effective. They are, however, restricted to a person’s natural limits, thus, can develop and change only to a certain degree (Landy & Conte, 2010). Moreover, personality characteristics predispose human behaviour to a large extent, and may be classified on the basis of a typology of five factors (“the Big Five”): research classifies these into extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability, and openness or intellect (Caligiuri, 2006; Digman, 1990; Goldberg, 1993; McCrae & Costa, 1989). Research has shown that there is a relationship between a global leader’s international success and each of these factors, which are, however, hardly alterable (Caligiuri, 2000a, b; Ones & Viswesvaran, 1997, 2003).

Another interesting consideration is Davis et al. ’s (2008) dimensional model of global competencies. Their Global Leadership Mindset (GLM) is divided into the dimensions orientation, knowledge and behaviour, which are fully integrated by the process of learning (see Figure 1).

Figure 1 - Global Leadership Mindset Model (Cseh et al., 2013, p. 492)

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Orientation is operationalised as a way of being, which implies factors of openness, collaboration, awareness, mindfulness, appreciation, flexibility and cosmopolitanism (Cseh et a/., 2013). In this model, knowledge is a cognitive structure which consists of sense-making, systems thinking, integration, selection, analysis, imagination, reasoning, intuition, perception and judgment. The last dimension, behaviour, is the actual outcome of the orientation and knowledge. It accordingly includes active engagement, curiosity, the capability to build emotional relationships, global business wisdom, cultural awareness and appreciation, being able to balance tensions, evidence visioning, and the ability to cope with the speed of globalisation as well as modernisation (Cseh et a/., 2013). It is interesting to note, contrary to the model suggested by Cohen (2010), that this model proposes that global leadership competencies can indeed be learned and enhanced, and further, that individuals are at different levels of awareness, knowledge and competencies along the global mindset scale (Cseh et a/., 2013). This gives interesting practical implications in regard of an organisation's leadership development programs.

Javidan and Teagarden (2011), in turn, argue that the concept of global mindset consists of three critical components of competencies which are essential for those leading on the global stage: intellectual, psychological, and social capital (see Table 1; Cseh eta/., 2013).

Table 1 – The Global Mindset (Javidan & Teagarden, 2011)

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

The first capital, intellectual capital, refers to an individual’s knowledge and understanding of the global business environment. A positive psychological profile (e.g. self-efficient or optimistic), cosmopolitanism (open and sensitive towards other cultures), and an appreciation of intercultural interactions constitute the dimensions of psychological capital. The three components of social capital – structural, relational and cognitive – mirror how leaders interact socially, what kind of relationship they build within these social networks, and which shared meanings they derive from them (Cseh et al., 2013). Accordingly, global mindset is reflected by humility and generosity balanced self-confidence, and the capability to be flexible and adaptable, collaborative as well as able to listen (Werhane et al., 2006). It is notable that the discussion of this model indicates that it proposes fairly similar global leadership competencies, which solely differ semantically from those previously mentioned.

In order to comprehend the diversity of the proposed global leader competencies, Bird (2013) recently reviewed theoretical and empirical studies published from 1993 to 2012 (for an overview, see Osland, 2013b, p. 48). He provides a thorough summary of competency distribution across three categories of competencies: the original amount of 160 identified competencies is broken down to 15, which are assigned to the three categories (Bird, 2013, pp. 84-86; see Table 2).

Table 2 – A Framework of Nested Global Leadership Competencies (Bird, 2013, p. 96)

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Each of the sub-competencies is a complex, multifaceted construct which itself encompasses significant complexity and, thus, embraces aspects of predisposition, attitudes, cognition, behaviour, and knowledge. Therefore, Bird’s (2013) comprehensive framework arguably includes all previously mentioned competencies and provides a thorough overview of global leadership competencies. Yet, it does not give enough practical input to develop a valid selection tool which assesses a leader’s capability to function effectively in a variety of cultural situations.

Earley and Ang’s (2003) multifactor concept of CQ (see below) likewise includes the previously identified competencies of global leaders. However, it goes beyond cognitive abilities and focuses on the ability to solve problems specifically in the cultural realm (Ang & Van Dyne, 2008; Ackerman, 1996). Since a strong relationship between CQ and leadership has also been identified (e.g. Ang et al., 2011; Dean, 2007; Deng & Gibson, 2008; Peterson, 2004), it provides the most sophisticated foundation for the draft of the L-CQA. The four-factor model of cultural intelligence is comprised of mental, motivational, and behavioural elements (Ang et al., 2006). It is argued that altogether, these dimensions form a person’s “capability to function effectively in a variety of cultural contexts” (CQ; Livermore, 2011, p. xiii). This model gives interesting implications since it emphasises that CQ can be, as any other form of intelligence, enhanced and formed by active engagement in different aspects (Ang & Van Dyne, 2008; Ng et al., 2009a). Moreover, it interdisciplinary and importantly contributes to the investigation of global leadership competencies. It therefore provides this dissertation’s framework to find an approach to select interculturally competent leaders by measuring their CQ within job interviews.

2.2 Conceptualisation of Cultural Intelligence

The roots of Earley and Ang’s (2003) model lie in cross-cultural research. Originally, it was developed in the context of global business environments (Ang et a l., 2011) as globalisation and the reality’s fast-moving nature greatly influenced such research. Similarly to global leadership research, cross-culture literature investigated the challenge of working with and leading people from different cultures. It identified the concept ‘cultural intelligence’ as key in order to successfully deal with cultural diversity in an intercultural context. In the literature, CQ is grounded in the larger domain of individual differences and divided into three main classes: abilities or capabilities, personality, and interests (e.g. Ackerman & Humphreys, 1990; Boyle & Saklofske, 2004; Lubinski, 2000; Murphy, 1996). This includes “those personal characteristics that relate to the capability to perform the behaviour of interest” (Ilgen & Klein, 1988, p. 146). Traditionally, it has been argued that personal characteristics are diverse in their specificity and stability (e.g. Chen et al., 2000; Hough & Schneider, 1996). Ang and Van Dyne (2008), however, suggest that CQ is rather one specific personal distinction instead of broad individual differences (e.g. IQ) since it emphasises the cultural realm. It has been widely recognised that there are multiple forms of intelligence and how individuals solve academic or cognitive issues (e.g. Gardner, 1993, 1999). To date, a considerable amount of literature has been published on IQ (Schmidt & Hunter, 2000), social intelligence (Thorndike & Stein, 1937), EI (Mayer & Salovey, 1993), and practical intelligence (Sternberg, 1986; Sternberg et al., 2000). However, Ng et al. (2012, p. 29) point out that there “was no focus on the ability to solve problems specifically in the cultural realm”. By initially conceptualising the concept ‘CQ’, Earley and Ang’s (2003) addressed this empirical gap. CQ is consistent with contemporary conceptualisations of intelligence and “explains adaptability to diversity and cross-cultural interactions” (Van Dyne et al., 2008, p. 16). The construct of CQ therefore supplements IQ, EQ as well as social and practical intelligence since these variations of intelligence are complementary and norms for social interactions are culturally bonded (Van Dyne et al., 2012; Earley & Ang, 2003).

Earley and Ang’s (2003) model is based on Sternberg and Detterman’s (1986) work on intelligence, which served as the theoretical foundation: the latter argue that individual-level intelligence is conceptualised through four complementary forms of intelligence: meta-cognitive, cognitive, motivational, and behavioural. Sternberg and Detterman (1986) further suggested that motivation as well as meta-cognition and cognition are mental capabilities located in the brain, whereas apparent actions are counted among behavioural capabilities (cf. Ng eta/., 2012). Accordingly, meta-cognitive intelligence is the process of controlling cognition which helps people to acquire and understand knowledge. Cognitive intelligence refers to one's knowledge structures which resemble the concept of knowledge as part of peoples' intellect. Being mentally capable to direct and maintain effort on a specific situation or task is a person's motivational intelligence, which is, according to Ceci and Ceci (1996), critical to solve real-world problems. Behavioural intelligence, lastly, refers to individuals' behaviour and their capabilities to show actual behaviour. Earley and Ang (2003) applied Sternberg and Detterman's (1986) framework of various loci of intelligence to culturally diverse contexts and conceptualise cultural intelligence through the same capabilities. CQ becomes an accumulated multidimensional construct which is built by the four intrinsically different dimensions (see Figure 2; Ang eta/., 2007).

Figure 2 - The Four Factor Model of Cultural Intelligence (Van Dyne et al.,

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Hence, the meta-cognitive dimension refers to an individual's interpretation of culturally diverse experiences: including individual thought processes such as planning, monitoring, and revising cultural norms (Ng et a/., 2012). High-level cognitive strategies and information processing at a deeper level enable individuals to evolve new heuristics and rules for social interaction across culturally diverse situations (Briliol & DeMarree, 2012; Van Dyne et a/., 2012). This component is a critical element of CQ as it emphasises active engagement with individuals and situations in culturally diverse settings (Ang & Van Dyne, 2008). Furthermore, it triggers active challenges to culturally bounded assumptions and humans' objectification (Brislin et a/., 2006; Triandis, 2006). Moreover, it drives people to heighten their cultural awareness through appreciating the intricacy of cultural identities (cf. Singer, 1998) whereby individuals can adapt and revise strategies towards a different culture’s norms and beliefs. Van Dyne and colleagues (2012) point out that individuals with high meta-cognitive CQ are able to question their own cultural assumptions, to reflect interpersonal interactions, and to adjust their cultural knowledge accordingly. Meta-cognitive CQ correspondingly refers to an individual’s capability to think strategically about culture and cultural differences, and includes the reflection and control over their own thought processes in order to deal with unfamiliar contexts (Ang & Van Dyne, 2008; Cultural Intelligence Center (CIC), 2005-2013a). This component therefore includes a person’s self-awareness, other awareness and situational awareness (Triandis, 2006).

An individual’s knowledge about cultures’ similarities and differences, as well as of oneself within the cultural context of the environment (Brislin et al., 2006) refers to an individual’s high cognitive intelligence (Ang & Van Dyne, 2008). It is the capability to understand and esteem culture specific institutions, norms, practices, values and conventions (e.g. Hofstede, 2001). This knowledge is vital in order to acknowledge isomorphic attributions of behaviours in culturally diverse settings, and further, for accurate judgments and decision making (Ang et al., 2007). Knowing how culture and its components shape economic and legal systems, values, social interaction norms and religious beliefs as well as paralanguage and language enables individuals to deeper understand commonalities and differences with ‘other cultures’ (cf. Jameson, 2007). This thus enables them to perform successfully within a culturally diverse environment (Ang & Van Dyne, 2008; Van Dyne et al., 2012).

Motivation as a mental capability is another important component of CQ because it is the drive that directs effort and energy towards culturally diverse settings and indicates the degree to which an individual wants and chooses to engage in these (Hofstede, 2001; Mullins, 2010; Van Dyne et al., 2010). Motivational CQ includes three motivational dynamics: the first of these is intrinsic motivation, which refers to the sense of satisfaction a person derives from culturally diverse experiences and therefore indicates intangible benefits (Deci, 1975). These are self-generated and are thus, independent to the circumstances (Van Dyne et al., 2012). Secondly, motivational CQ includes the extrinsic value (tangible benefits) a person derives from interacting with people from different cultural backgrounds (Ryan & Deci, 2000). This is an important factor for organisations as it serves to constitute a possibility to motivate employees to successfully accomplish challenging cross- cultural work interactions (Van Dyne et al., 2012). It also encompasses an individual’s self-efficacy of having the task-specific confidence to function effectively in culturally diverse situations (Bandura, 2002), which likewise serves as an intangible benefit of motivational CQ (CIC, 2005-2013b).

Finally, behavioural intelligence generally refers to the capability to adapt behaviour in culturally diverse environments, which includes the ability to appropriately communicate verbally and nonverbally (cf. Hall, 1959). Verbal behaviour is defined as flexibility in vocalisation such as accent or tone. It further includes the adaption of the expressiveness (Van Dyne et al., 2012) to the specific culture and its social conventions (e.g. pause and silence) (Varner & Beamer, 2011). Being verbally flexible may improve the person’s effectiveness of communicating with other cultures (Van Dyne et al., 2012). Likewise, speech acts vary across cultures: hence, Van Dyne et al. (2012) argue that individuals with high behavioural CQ are able to appropriately accommodate speech acts to culturally specific types of messages (e.g. apologies or disagreement), thus, show nuanced understanding of communication conventions, which enhances the encounter’s atmosphere. Non-verbal behaviour, in contrast, is an individual’s flexibility to modify their paralanguage to a particular culturally diverse situation (CIC, 2005-2013c), including facial expressions, gestures (see Westphal et al., 2010), and body language (see Knapp & Hall, 2010). Possessing this flexibility shows respect towards other cultures. Overall, behavioural CQ is a particularly important factor of CQ since culture significantly influences communication styles (cf. Carté & Fox, 2008). In addition, words and terms may have different meanings in different cultures, and therefore, associative bonds (Borges, 1979). This can result in misinterpretation of language or a lack of knowledge of both the context (Searle, 1965; Saussure, 1959) and varying rules in different languages (‘Language Games’; Wittgenstein, 1953). Moreover, imprudently used communication styles may lead to cross-cultural misunderstandings (Hall, 1959).

After the publication of Earley and Ang’s (2007) work, the interest into the phenomenon of CQ increased and strongly influenced the emergence of empirical research within various disciplines (Ng et al., 2012), such as cross-cultural applied linguistics (e.g. Rogers, 2008) or military operations (e.g. Selmeski, 2007). The construct CQ thus quickly developed over a short period from a theoretical construct to a practical significant, measurable, and valid construct which is stable across samples, time and countries (Van Dyne et al., 2008).

CQ and Global Leadership

In terms of leadership, research has investigated that effective leadership is not just a matter of being intellectually capable and emotionally intelligent (e.g. Ang et al., 2007). In fact, people with a high CQ are more effective leaders than those without (see Ang et al., 2011; Dean, 2007; Deng & Gibson, 2008; Peterson, 2004). This comprises a leader’s effectiveness in culturally diverse work groups (Groves & Feyerherm, 2011), performance of expatriates in international assignments (Chen et al., 2010), leadership potential (Kim & Van Dyne, 2012), and effective intercultural negotiations (Imai & Gelfand, 2010). Van Dyne and colleagues (2010) suggest that CQ enables leaders to develop an overall perspective and repertoire of cultural knowledge, motivation, and skills (Ang & Van Dyne, 2008). By applying CQ’s four types of capabilities on leadership, Van Dyne et al. (2010) identify that leaders need to combine all four dimensions of motivation, knowledge, strategy, and behaviour to be comprehensively effective on all levels. The motivational dimension refers to “the leader’s level of interest, drive and energy to adapt cross- culturally” (Van Dyne et al., 2010, p. 135). This drive includes three motivational dynamics: intrinsic, which refers to what extent one derives joy from situations characterised by cultural diversity, extrinsic motivation (more tangible benefits) as well as one’s self-efficacy or confidence (Van Dyne et al., 2010). Moreover, interculturally intelligent leaders possess knowledge about cultural differences in values and are conscious about their impact on behaviour. Cognitive CQ is therefore the degree to which leaders understand differences and cross-cultural challenges: it is particularly important to acknowledge that culture shapes humans’ worldviews (Shaules, 2007), affects their cultural systems, and forms norms and values. The third dimension, meta-cognition, refers to a leader’s competence to reflect on their own thought processes to become capable of perceiving, interpreting and developing plans in unfamiliar contexts. By discerning cultural drivers in situations, leaders become able to strategize appropriately. Lastly, behavioural CQ describes the action dimension of CQ and influences a leader’s ability to decide whether it is necessary to adapt to another culture. For leaders, having a pool of behavioural skills to choose from is particularly important for managing interpersonal relations and includes understanding of verbal aspects (cf. Gu, 1990) and non-verbal communication (cf. Carté & Fox, 2008; Ferraro, 2006).

To summarise, this chapter has so far outlined that the capability to operate successfully in culturally diverse situations has become a precondition for effective international leadership and is widely discussed in literature (amongst others Kim & Van, 2012). The emergence of CQ in the field of leadership research highlights the need for interculturally intelligent leaders. This also provides a framework for scholars to investigate how to assess global leadership competencies. Since this dissertation aims to develop a tool to assess CQ in job interviews, Chapter 2.3 discusses the assessment possibilities of global leadership competencies. In doing so, this therefore informs the draft of the L-CQA in order to effectively select interculturally competent leaders.

2.3 Assessing Global Leadership Competencies

The assessment of global leadership competencies has become crucial since an organisation’s efficacy is increasingly dependent on employees with the ability to function effectively and in a respectful manner (CIC, 2005-2013d). One key area of cultural intelligence research is therefore the development and validation of global leadership assessments (Matsumoto & Hwang, 2013). This has important theoretical and practical implications since, in theory, such assessments aim to “identify the psychological constructs necessary for intercultural adaptation and adjustment” (Matsumoto & Hwang, 2013, p. 849). Practically, these measurement tools can help to identify goals of intervention, to design effective trainings, and to measure both organisational and individual efficacy. Bird and Stevens (2013), however, point out that the variety of global leadership competencies entails challenges to the assessment of global leadership capabilities. Firstly, the tendency to over-specify the amount of identified competencies in a specific profession might not be useful or practical for assessments. Secondly, competency lists might tend to mirror idealised standards rather than realistic expectations (Conger & Ready, 2004). A third challenge is the need to distinguish stable and dynamic competencies. The former is part of an individual’s personality and is difficult to substantially change whereas the latter can be enhanced and formed since they reflect developable skills and abilities (Leiba-O’Sullivan, 1999).

Therefore, the creation of tests that measure intercultural competence in a valid and reliable way requires an accurate analysis of a high quality. Matsumoto and Hwang (2013, pp. 863-867) thoroughly reviewed ten available tests that measure CQ and provide worthwhile insights of their validity and reliability: the authors conclude that Ang and colleagues’ (2007) 20-item Cultural Intelligence Scale (CQS) is one of three most promising tools for assessing CQ, due to its strong construct and ecological validity. This validated scale aims to assess an individual’s intercultural intelligence, which is emphasised and applied by most research (see Ang et al., 2007). It is, however, worth noting that Matsumoto and Hwang (2013) solely rely on empirical articles published in English and peer- reviewed journals, thus limiting their approach. Nonetheless, their review shows a precise and sophisticated research approach by applying well-considered selection criteria, and hence presents interesting findings that give indications for this dissertation. Besides Matsumoto and Hwang’s (2013) review, a considerable amount of research empirically validated the CQS and identified its generalisation (see Van Dyne et al., 2012; Van Dyne et al., 2008). The CQS (Appendix 1) as an intercultural adaptability assessment instrument (for overview, Bird & Stevens, 2013, p. 138) will therefore inform the draft of the L-CQA in order to measure intercultural competence in a valid and reliable way.

The 20-item Cultural Intelligence Scale (CQS) and the Expanded Cultural Intelligence Scale (E-CQS)

The CQS was developed by reviewing existing literature on intelligence and intercultural competence, and further, by conducting interviews with eight international work experienced executives. Based on these results, operationalisations for the four dimensions of CQ were defined (Van Dyne et al., 2008): the items for meta-cognitive CQ were developed on the foundation of educational and cognitive psychology operationalisations of meta-cognition (cf. O’Neil & Abedi, 1996; Pintrich & De-Groot, 1990). The items for cognitive CQ are based on Triandis’ (1994) cultural knowledge domains, which includes economical, legal, and social systems knowledge of other cultures as well as Human Relations Areas Files proposed by Murdock (1987 cited in Ng et al., 2012). Applied to intercultural situations, Deci and Ryan’s (1985) work on intrinsic satisfaction and Bandura’s (2002) work on self-efficacy provide the basis for the items of the motivational dimension. Lastly items for behavioural CQ are based on intercultural communication research, emphasising flexibility in language and paralanguage (Hall, 1995; Gudykunst, 1993). In 2012, Van Dyne and colleagues provided an expanded theoretical conceptualisation of CQ, which was included in the discussion above and refines each of the four primary factors to eleven sub- dimensions in order to identify particular capabilities for each CQ dimension. Further, they enhanced the initial CQS and proposed the Expanded Cultural Intelligence Scale (E-CQS; see Appendix 2).

Based on these findings and responding to calls to examine CQ as a predictor of selection into global leadership positions (Spreitzer et al., 1997; Lievens et al., 2003), this dissertation uses the CQS and the E-CQS as theoretical basis in order to identify employees who would be particularly well suited for intercultural assignments. Yet, it is worth pointing out that CQ is only one aspect that global leaders need to possess. Identifying other aspects, however, is beyond the scope of this dissertation. This is why it solely focuses on developing a selection tool for assessing leader’s CQ in job interviews.

2.4 Selecting Culturally Competent Leaders

In order to develop a tool to select interculturally competent leaders, apart from knowledge of CQ and its measurement tools (CQS; E-CQS), it is crucial to understand the selection process itself in regard to global leaders. Globalisation and more diverse workforces arguably led to the need to employ leaders with the potential to bridge cross-cultural differences in intercultural relations in order to remain globally competitive (cf. Kim & Van, 2012). However, it is a significant challenge for contemporary organisations to select and develop leaders, who are able to interact effectively in domestic and international settings characterised by cultural diversity (e.g. Sparrow e t al., 2004; Schuler & Tarique, 2007; Ang & Van Dyne, 2008; Avolio et al., 2009; Van Dyne et al., 2009). Assessing the CQ of job candidates has hence become significant since there is evidence that interculturally competent employees contribute to an increase of organisational profits (Livermore, 2011; Newell, 2005). This makes the process of recruitment and selection critical: the recruitment process proposes to generate a diverse pool of qualified persons whereas selection is the process of determining the most qualified candidate according to the established assessment criteria for the vacant position (Beardwell e t al., 2004; Costen, 2012; McCall & Hollenbeck, 2002; Newell, 2005; Rogelberg, 2007). For this purpose, organisations “need to make use of highly valid indicators for the selection process, with an effective predictive value of the candidate’s future performance” (Zaharie & Osoian, 2013, p. 86). The following section therefore aims to gain a thorough understanding of how the L- CQA has to be designed to become such an indicator to select interculturally competent leaders.

The Selection Process

The selection process starts by reviewing candidates’ applications in order to select those who meet the job specifications (Costen, 2012). Subsequently, a selection method such as interviews, psychological tests, or assessment centres is chosen to determine if the candidates possess necessary KSAOs and whether they satisfy the organisation’s expectations. To date, interviews as selection method remain commonly used although there is evidence that this selection technique is ineffective in determining the candidates’ capabilities appropriately (Newell, 2005; CIPD, 2013b). Unstructured interviews are especially unreliable assessment instruments as each interviewer perceives interviewees differently since meaning is allocated associatively and subjectively to gathered information (Buelens et al., 2011; Borges, 1979). Accordingly, interviewers might be affected by elements such as the halo and horns, the stereotyping or the similar-to-me effect (see CIPD, 2013b), which might lead to selection biases. A considerable amount of literature has been published on personnel selection, including strategies and tests for selection which aim to minimise such subjective biases (e.g. Taylor, 2009; Searle, 2003; Cook & Cripps, 2005; Cooper et al., 2003). Another selection technique is testing the candidates through rating their aptitudes, personalities or abilities, which systematically assesses individual differences (Mondy & Mondy, 2012). Notwithstanding this, selection tests alone do not predict the actual candidate’s suitability and need to be combined with another tool. There are limits as to how far the concept of general selection techniques can be taken: difficulties may arise when an attempt is made to assess every interviewee in the same way or the organisation’s selection technique might be unintentionally discriminatory. Properly designed, selection tools therefore are “standardized, objective, based on sound norms, reliable, and, of outmost importance, valid” (Mondy & Mondy, 2012, p. 171).

To date, leaders’ assignments usually rely on informal and less suitable selection criteria such as international experiences (Shaffer et al., 2006). This, however, is based on the assumption that increased experience is positively related to an increase of one’s job ability (Guion, 1998) and lacks in empirical evidence (Ng et al., 2009a). Moreover, people translate and transform their highly individual experiences differently, thus, differentiate from the extent to which they gain values from foreign experiences (Ng et al., 2009a). It is accordingly arguable that job interviews for intercultural leaders need to be specifically job-related and to follow an appropriate structure (CIPD, 2013b). Research suggests that if an interview is both appropriately structured and allows interpersonal communication, predictive validity is given (Taylor et al., 2002). The process of structuring, however, can be accomplished by different approaches. According to Searle (2003), this comprehensive process usually starts by identifying the required competencies, traits, knowledge, and experience for the job (Dessler, 2013). This produces important information about job profiles through numerous approaches such as observation or interviews (Dessler, 2013; Searle, 2003). This is followed by creating interview questions for each of the job’s main duties. Nowadays, behavioural questions are more likely used since they were found to be 54 percent accurate (Mondy & Mondy, 2012). This structured approach is the patterned behavioural description interview, which includes examples of past experiences, and is likely to provide rich insights of a candidate’s vocational aptitude since past performance under similar circumstances may predict future behaviour (Janz et al., 1986). Behavioural interviews are mainly divided into three main objectives: a description of challenging situations, the candidate’s reaction, and measurable results (Mondy & Mondy, 2012). The third step is to create benchmark answers for each question, which are rated in terms of their proficiency level from expert (5), marginal (3), and poor (1). Finally, the last step is the actual interview with a potential employee (Dessler, 2013).

From the previous discussion, it can be seen that it is crucial for contemporary organisations to select and develop interculturally competent leaders. This section discussed the procedures and methods used to successfully conduct job interviews. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that there is no universal approach to appropriately structure an interview. Notwithstanding this, the development of the L-CQA followed the first three identified steps in order to develop a properly designed selection tool. This maintains the standards to validly measure a candidate’s CQ in a job interviews with an effective predictive value of their future performance (Searle, 2003). Furthermore, it has drawn upon commonly used interview methods to develop sample questions in order to select interculturally competent leaders in job interviews. The following paragraph details the development of the L-CQA.

2.5 Development of the L-CQA

Given the wide range of intercultural issues and the need for interculturally competent leaders, this dissertation responded to calls to examine CQ as a predictor of selection into global leadership positions. Hence, this dissertation aims to develop a valid and comprehensive selection tool for interculturally competent leaders. The development process is explained in more detail below and is outlined in Figure 3.


Excerpt out of 101 pages


The Selection of Interculturally Competent Leaders. Measuring Intercultural Competence within Job Interviews
Edinburgh Napier University
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
Appendices 1-2 for copyright reasons not included!
selection, interculturally, competent, leaders, measuring, intercultural, competence, interviews
Quote paper
Alicia Utz (Author), 2014, The Selection of Interculturally Competent Leaders. Measuring Intercultural Competence within Job Interviews, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


  • No comments yet.
Look inside the ebook
Title: The Selection of Interculturally Competent Leaders. Measuring Intercultural Competence within Job Interviews

Upload papers

Your term paper / thesis:

- Publication as eBook and book
- High royalties for the sales
- Completely free - with ISBN
- It only takes five minutes
- Every paper finds readers

Publish now - it's free