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Country Context and Intercultural Competence

In order to examine the specific countries’ contexts and their association with intercultural competence, it is possible to focus on the African countries and China. In African countries, the impact of colonization on cultural development and people’s attitudes to multiculturalism is significant. However, the role of traditions and formal norms are also important. The representatives of the African countries are focused on the ideas of communalism, and they have the specific vision of the time (Deardorff, 2009). Still, developing intercultural competence, the African countries try to adopt the Western cultural patterns and approaches to business in the context of their traditions (Xing, Liu, Tarba, & Cooper, 2016). The focus on the global training that became observed only recently is caused by the development of many international projects in the African countries. In this context, the representatives of these cultures try to adapt to new patterns of interaction and concentrate on more individualistic behaviors.

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The focus on traditions is also typical of Chinese society; however, in this context, the impact of philosophies on the development of business relationships is even more significant. The other similar feature is the vision of the community’s role in personal development (Deardorff, 2009). In the African countries and China, the personal impact is discussed in the context of the community even while focusing on the business relationships. Nevertheless, while developing intercultural competence, the Chinese population seems to be more adaptable to Western patterns than the African population does (Mao & Hale, 2015). The context of China influences the development initiatives, but the effects of globalization on the progress of multinational projects in China are more important, and the Chinese cultural norms become integrated into the global projects based on the Western approaches to business.

One of the cultural dimensions proposed by Hofstede is individualism discussed with collectivism as its opposite side (Hofstede Centre, n.d.). Individualism is characterized by the focus only on personal interests and the high level of autonomy. The United States and the Central and Northern European countries are characterized by individualism. People in these countries are inclined to make individual decisions, focus on their own interests, and demonstrate the unwillingness to work in groups (Weech, 2001). On the contrary, collectivism accentuates the role of society in individuals’ lives. The Asian and African countries are discussed as collectivist ones because the level of dependence on the group and society is high, and the focus is on protecting the interests of the community (Dartey-Baah, 2013). Representatives of collectivist cultures are not inclined to act independently in the organization.

In order to develop an effective training program and address differences in cultures regarding the individualism dimension, it is important to propose several guidelines.

  1. If the culture is individualistic, the training sessions can include separate assignments in teams to develop the persons’ potential (Bird, Mendenhall, Stevens, & Oddou, 2010). In a collectivist culture, the focus can be on team and group work.
  2. In an individualistic culture, the training should be oriented to the development of the individuals’ professional qualities and their self-development. In collectivist cultures, the focus should be on learning the strategies on how to achieve the shared goal.
  3. The individual approach in training will be more valued in individualistic cultures. The representatives of the collectivist cultures should become aware of the role of training for their corporate culture and community.


Bird, A., Mendenhall, M., Stevens, M. J., & Oddou, G. (2010). Defining the content domain of intercultural competence for global leaders. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 25(8), 810-828. Web.

Dartey-Baah, K. (2013). The cultural approach to the management of the international human resource: An analysis of Hofstede’s cultural dimensions. International Journal of Business Administration, 4(2), 39-45. Web.

Deardorff, D. K. (2009). The SAGE handbook of intercultural competence. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

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Hofstede Centre. (n.d.). National cultural dimensions. Web.

Mao, Y., & Hale, C. L. (2015). Relating intercultural communication sensitivity to conflict management styles, technology use, and organizational communication satisfaction in multinational organizations in China. Journal of Intercultural Communication Research, 44(2), 132-150. Web.

Weech, W. A. (2001). Training across cultures: What to expect. Training & Development, 55(1), 62-64. Web.

Xing, Y., Liu, Y., Tarba, S. Y., & Cooper, C. L. (2016). Intercultural influences on managing African employees of Chinese firms in Africa: Chinese managers’ HRM practices. International Business Review, 25(1), 28-41. Web.

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