Cultural Intelligence, or Cultural Quotient (CQ) is an ability of an outsider to interpret another culture, another behaviour, another rationality and irrationality. We would like to bring this topic to you because crossing border has certainly become a routine in most businesses and sectors, also because this soft factor is not easy to grasp at once but is playing an important role in becoming a successful business.
This concept was initially developed by Professor Christopher Earley and Soon Ang in their book Cultural Intelligence in 2003. It was defined as the ability to adapt to new cultural settings. It is the ability to understand unfamiliar or ambiguous behaviours and recognize shared influences but yet not to make assumptions or generalizations based on any single aspect. Because people coming from the same country or the same cultural group could behave differently due to their positions in a business, their situations, their age or gender, their education and backgrounds, and sometimes their personalities.
How tell if an employee has CQ or how to develop CQ when lacking? It is essential to look at the three components of CQ first. The Harvard Business Review identified Head — cognitive, Body — behavioural, and Heart — motivational as the key components of CQ. In simple terms, a person should understand a foreign culture, adapt the right physical behaviours, and take actions accordingly for a success in result.
Take an example of the Dutch and the German. If one would run a quick comparison on the Hofstede Insights on these two countries on the six cultural dimensions, in which Germany is considered more masculine and the Netherlands more feminine. This suggests that the German prioritize career development and high achievements over private life, and the Dutch in the contrary. However, this is only a generalized conclusion. Approach to a cultural group individually, it is also not surprising to see not everyone from that culture follows the same mindset and behaviours. This could vary between subgroups or communities, sometimes in corporations or families. Making appropriate research and observation or gathering the right information and knowledge is usually the first step. Because general ideas do not help as much as expected on an individual basis. Upon necessary knowledge, thinking towards understanding is the next step. From understanding to strategies and then to actions are the last two steps to complete the CQ management.
On 12th February, we will be speaking more about this topic in Amsterdam with three other speakers under the organization of the Dutch Japanese Trade Federation. Please join us for more discussions in the event or stay tuned for our next article summarizing the discussion and findings in that event.
Global Connect Admin B.V. | Xuan Hao