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(eds), Textus XIV, 2, pp. 287-306. David Katan When Difference is not Dangerous: Modelling Intercultural Competence for Business ____________________________________________________ 1. Introduction Interculturality, globalisation, „glocalisation‟ are some of the terms to describe the global village atmosphere of business today, along with the assertion that intercultural competence is necessary. A number of authors, as Brian Spitzberg (1997: 380) mentions, have provided “a list of skills, abilities, and attitudes … for competent interaction and adaptation”. Yet, “there is no sense of integration or coherence across lists”. This paper will begin with a discussion of „difference‟ and the competencies required to communicate effectively in a different culture. I will also discuss the beginnings of an integrated model of intercultural competence and will discuss some of the problems involved in achieving them. The main ideas for the model come from Neuro-Linguistic programming (NLP) and from intercultural studies, while the ideas regarding competencies come from business training programmes. 1.1 Response to ‘Difference’ It will be assumed here that individuals have the competencies necessary to communicate within their own culture, and also that they do not naturally or automatically possess the critical competencies necessary for dealing with different cultures. As the title suggests, approach to “difference” will be a central theme. As Bennett (1998: 3, emphasis in the original) says “the intercultural communication approach is difference-based” (see also Barna 1998). According to Bennett (1993) and many others (e.g., Michael Page & Judith Martin 1996: 46; Janet Bennett et al: forthcoming), the normal response to what is different is ethnocentric. The type of response will vary according to the degree that the surrounding environment is perceived to be “‟different‟, and the level at which the difference is perceived. In the world of travel and tourism, „difference‟ is the attracting factor. Erik Cohen distinguishes response to another culture according to whether the person is an organized or individual mass-tourist, explorer or drifter: “the fundamental variable that forms the basis for the fourfold typology of tourist roles proposed here is strangeness versus familiarity” (1972: 177). The difference between the two “mass tourists” is the degree that they are „institutionalized‟ (i.e. the extent to which their travel experiences are organized by intermediaries within the tourism industry). Basically, though, both types of mass tourist “like to experience the novelty of the macroenvironment of a strange place from the security of a familiar microenvironment” (ibid: 166). This need for familiarity and comfort Cohen terms the “environmental bubble”. International business, of course, can be
performed successfully from within one‟s own environmental bubble; though, equally clearly, this will depend on the type and the degree of foreign contact. Here, we will assume the more extreme situation of a professional who will have been chosen for an assignment abroad, or will be in regular face-to-face professional contact with multicultural teams. If there is a period of holiday in another culture, for example, before an assignment abroad, then the response to unfamiliarity may well be positive. This is known as “the honeymoon period” (Levine and Adelman 1993: 41), where difference attracts and arouses curiosity. However, just like any honeymoon, this response to „the other‟ has little to do with immersion in the day-to-day routine of intercultural life. It is, instead, the response of the tourist from well inside his or her environmental bubble. Dell Hymes (personal communication) is sceptical about the validity of this initial stage, as are a number of other researchers, whose empirical research demonstrates that predicted “the initial phase of psychological euphoria” (cf Colleen Ward 1992: 131) simply does not occur during the first few weeks for Peace Corps volunteers. The “honeymoon phase”, is, I suggest, the response of Cohen‟s “mass-tourist”, from within the protection of their environmental bubble. Milton Bennett‟s (1993) Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity (DMIS), in fact, begins with the types of reaction individuals will tend to have once removed from the protection of the bubble. 2. The Bennett Model The DMIS has six stages, and each stage represents an important change in beliefs about difference: “Specifically, we are interested in the way people construe cultural difference” (ibid 1993: 24). Bennett‟s model is „culture general‟ i.e. “it describes how learners overcome ethnocentrism regarding their own cultures and how they achieve sensitivity to other cultures in general” (Janet Bennett et al: forthcoming). It was developed to take into account the very earliest developmental stage, from total cross-cultural incompetence through to total competence. This model, like any other model, is a generic classification of a long process, and will not fit all circumstances. For further discussion see M. Bennett (1993: 28) and J. Bennett et al (forthcoming). 2.1 The ethnocentric Stages During „the honeymoon period‟, as we have already noted, individuals will tend to be curious about the new culture, and may well learn to say “thank you” and “hello/goodbye” in the foreign language: difference is stimulating and expectations are positive. However, initially (stage 1 in the DMIS), much of what is different will not actually be perceived. As John Gumperz (1997: 45) puts it, differences in “contextualization strategies” remain “undetected”. What little we do perceive about „the other‟ (whether it be the language or the culture) will be distorted to fit our own cognitive environment. Attention centres on our own interpretations based on fulfilling our own expectations.
Bennett calls this stage „Denial‟, and may also involve the use of social or physical barriers so that more fundamental differences in habitus (Bourdieu 1990, Katan and Straniero-Sergio forthcoming) are simply not encountered, and the environmental bubble can remain intact. The next stage (2) is „Culture shock‟: “emotional reactions to the disorientation that occurs when one is immersed in an unfamiliar culture and is deprived of familiar cues ...” (Paige, 1993: 2). It is at this stage, outside the protective habitus of the environmental bubble that we realise that there is a difference; and hence that there is a real gap between our expected world and the world we are dealing with - and we can no longer deny the fact. The „undetetected‟ contextualization cues mentioned by Gumperz (ibid), at this stage, result in “a significant number of breakdowns” The most natural reaction to difference in others‟ behaviour, discourse patterns and value systems is to defend our own, particularly because the difference is felt as a threat to core beliefs regarding what is „right‟, „normal‟ and „correct‟: “What is Different is Dangerous” (Hofstede 1991: 109). Geert Hofstede calls one of his four cultural dimensions „Uncertainty Avoidance‟, which relates to a culture‟s toleration of what is unfamiliar. As William Gudykunst (1995: 12) notes “Anxiety is the affective (emotional) equivalent of uncertainty”. To prevent anxiety building up, the first reflex response is either „fight or flight‟. „Fight‟ responses to this anxiety may include active „Denigration‟, a feeling of „Superiority‟, or even „Reversal‟, which is reversed superiority, i.e. a belief that one‟s own culture is inferior to another. In all cases, at this stage of intercultural sensitivity, there is an implicit assumption that evolution following one particular culture path is the best path for all cultures. Professional Defence will often be in terms of flight. A recent survey by William M. Mercer consultants showed that “placing individual employees [and] whole families – often into quite unfamiliar and challenging circumstances” (FTexpat: Feb 2001: 4) accounts for most failed assignments. More exactly, the survey of over 100 multinationals revealed “family difficulties” and “adversity to change” as the two most significant (and highly interrelated) factors affecting the success or failure of an international assignment. This confirms previous results cited in Daniel Kealey (1996: 83), who also points to other research which estimates that between 15% to 40% of American business personnel return early; less than 50% of those who stay perform adequately, and the estimated cost for US firms, in direct costs alone, is (1992 figures) $2 billion. The last attempt (3) “to preserve the centrality of one‟s own worldview” (Bennett 1993: 41) is „Minimisation‟, which may include physical or transcendental Universalism. Put simply, at this stage, the belief is that we are all human beings biologically or we are all equal under the eyes of God/Allah – a belief which necessitates a single world, united by pancultural norms, values and beliefs. Fundamental to moving towards intercultural competence is the realisation that individuals tend to perceive difference through a simplified mental model of the world which tells us what to expect. We will now discuss how
this model functions before moving on to the ethnorelative stages and intercultural competence. 2.1.1. Model of the World Ideas regarding mental models of the world are well developed in, for example, Johnson-Laird (1983), Sperber & Wilson (1986), Wallace Chafe (1990) and Gary Palmer (1996). NLP, itself, was developed on the principle of mental modelling to help therapists improve their success rate with their clients‟ „limited model of the world‟ (Bandler and Grinder 1975). The “Logical Levels of Culture” in Katan (1999a, 1999b) uses, and extends, NLP theory to model Malinowski‟s (1923) “context of culture”. A further refinement of the model is presented here, which takes specific account of Bennett‟s model and the competencies required for successful cross-cultural communication. An earlier description of the mental model theory was put forward by one of the forefathers of NLP, Alfred Korzybski ( 1994: 58, emphasis in the original), in which he used the metaphor of a “map”: “A map is not the territory it represents, but, if correct, it has a similar structure to the territory, which accounts for its usefulness” (cf. Saville-Troike 1989: 24). This metaphor is particularly useful in intercultural communication as cartographic maps are representations of topographic reality. They tell us what to expect and orient us through a maze of local, regional, national or international signs. The local maps cover a small area and are detailed. Larger areas are either not covered by the map or are drawn with less detail. The various filters and the Universal Modelling process are discussed in Katan (1999a). Here, I would like to focus on 3 related processes in the representation of „difference‟: Perception, Interpretation and Evaluation. The evaluation of what is perceived externally will necessarily be according to an internal map of the world. As Robert Rubenstein (1994: 1003) points out “expectations about what is proper and good are cultural, and they are encoded in a society‟s symbolic forms”. The founders of NLP, Bandler and Grindler (1975: 10) call this filter „social genetics‟, which they define as “all the categories or filters to which we are subject as members of a social system: our language, our accepted ways of perceiving, and all the socially agreed upon fictions”. So, what is potentially manifest may well be discarded if it does not fit the cultural model of the world. If not deleted, reality will tend to be distorted, or at least simplified so that it can fit the model. A further filter relates to individual constraints. A basic NLP tenet is that “If the model of the client‟s experiences has pieces missing, it is impoverished. Impoverished models ... imply limited options for behaviour. As the missing pieces are recovered, the process of change in that person begins” (ibid: 41). A simple extension that I would put forward is that a person who begins working interculturally will also, necessarily, have a limited model of the world, and too few options to communicate competently (cf. Spitzberg 1997: 384). It is, of course, these constraints that make it possible to orient ourselves in the communication world so efficiently. We do not need to process information from the external environment as if it were totally new,
but can rely on our cognitive environment to make the causal links between what is observed (the perception), the meaning (the interpretation) and the logical response (the evaluation). Hence reality is what our map says it is. 2.2. Ethnorelative Stages Acceptance (4) is the first ethnorelative stage and represents “a major conceptual shift” (Bennett: 1993: 45). People at this stage recognise that there are different maps of the world, first at the level of „Behaviour‟, then at the level of underlying communication norms or strategies. At the „Adaptation‟ stage (5) “new skills appropriate to different world views are acquired as an additive process” (ibid: 52, original emphasis). What is important to note is that they can only be acquired once the belief system is open to change, and “learners ... are able to see their own behaviour in a cultural context” (Janet Bennett et al: forthcoming). At the final stage (6), „Integration‟, rather than flexibility at the Behavioural or Strategic level, Identity itself is a much looser and more flexible concept. People at this level are „citizens of the world‟ rather than regionally or nationally anchored and are free to make „contextual evaluation‟. As far as Bennett is concerned, intercultural competence is gained at the level of Adaptation; and certainly, most professionals have absolutely no need to reach the final level, which can be an extremely alienating experience. 3. Competencies We should now turn to the particular competencies necessary for successful management of tasks and relationships in an intercultural world. Clearly, the concept refers to skills or more generic abilities, as Dell Hymes notes (1992: 34). There are, broadly speaking, four types of competence (in business „competency‟ is the recurrent term): language, communicative, work-related or performance and inter or cross-cultural. 3.1. Language Competence Language competence is to do with a speaker‟s knowledge of what constitutes a well-formed sentence in a language regardless of situation. Pragmatic competence or Dell Hymes‟ (1986) “communicative competence” widens the concept to include the individual competencies essential for successful or appropriate performance, which he calls dimensions, as follows: knowledge of the systemic potential; competence in appropriateness, occurrence and feasibility (Hymes 1997 13). This type of competency requires both knowledge and expectation of who may or may not speak in certain settings, when, how, and through which routines, “in short, everything involving the use of language and other communicative dimensions in particular settings” (Saville-Troike 1989: 21). 3.2. Work Related/Performance Competencies Work-related competencies provide a framework for making people in organisations more effective and able to perform better, by using top performers‟ behaviour, strategies and capabilities as the benchmark.
Competence models are generally the result of work carried out by “an expert panel” (Daniel Bouchard 1996: 131), a steering committee who define the competencies for a given job or role. Information is collected through hard facts (e.g. productivity data) and Behavioural Event Interviews (BEIs) (Dale 1996: 43-49). BEIs are designed to “identify the thought and behaviour patterns of people who are successful in the jobs being studied” (Patricia Marshall 1996: 50). Results from these interviews are crossmatched against „criterion groups‟, average performers, to distil the behaviours or thinking patterns that are significantly different. Yet, with regard to any intercultural component little has changed since 1990, when research carried out on the selection of employees to work overseas (cited in Kealey 1996: 83) highlighted the fact that companies were still continuing “to base their selection decisions primarily on technical competence and experience and ignore the non-technical skills and knowledge required for success in another culture”. 3.3. Work-Related Competencies and Cultures Some work has been carried out by Hay/McBer (Larrere 1986: 68-73), for example, in modelling intercultural competence for the business world. They have designed job competency evaluations to highlight the differences between „generic competencies‟, those found in, for example, successful executives in a monoculture, and „critical‟ or „critical success differences‟, those key competency differences which allow a small number of professionals to be successful anywhere, whether it be “from one organisation to another or from one culture to another or from one economic circumstance to another” (Larrere 1996: 66). Research, for example, carried out by Hay/McBer has isolated 5 critical differences which they have added to their performance competencies. 1. Personal v Contractual Business Relationships 2. Bias for Action: Planning v Implementation 3. Exercising authority: Authoritarian v Participatory 4. Time horizon: Short v Long 5. Building Business Relationships: Personal v Contractual These critical differences are posed as binary opposite cognitive preferences, and are marked in their Global Adaptability Inventory in terms of spread between the two extremes, and also in terms of their point of balance between the two orientations. The closer the balance is to the centre, and the wider the spread, the more globally adaptable the executive is deemed to be: Yet, these critical differences do not actually include any cognition of, or interest in, culture. How individuals respond to another culture and what resources they use once outside of their environmental bubble is totally ignored. 3.4. Communicative Competencies and Culture
Communicative competence models have also included references to factors influencing intercultural competence. In fact, according to Palmer (1996: 23) Hymes‟s central concern was to “treat speech as a system of cultural behaviour”. This is the level that Alessandro Duranti (1988: 210) calls “situated discourse” and can be related to Bronislaw Malinowski‟s “context of situation” (Malinowski 1935: 18; Katan 1999a:72). A person‟s map of the world, of course, is more than a series of encultured communicative language norms and routines. In order to communicate appropriately, as Muriel Saville-Troike (1989: 24) actually makes clear, not only do we need “Linguistic knowledge” and “Interaction skills”, but also “Cultural knowledge”, and in particular shared social knowledge; values and attitudes; cognitive maps/schemata, and enculturation process (transmission of knowledge and skills). Yet, there is a crucial difference in level between communicative and intercultural competence. While communicative competence answers the question “How these signs work to channel communication” (Gumperz 1997: 39), and focuses on the abilities necessary to communicate or participate effectively in a given culture, intercultural competence addresses the motivation, the values and the beliefs necessary to participate in another community. As Hymes (1992: 47-48) notes, it is entirely possible for individuals without communicative competence to participate in a community “through skilful use of such proficiency as they have”. It is, then, at the level of intercultural competence that individuals will be motivated (and sustained) in their decision to participate; and the same competence will be the first guide to potential success or („flight/fight‟) failure. 3.5. Intercultural Competencies As mentioned at the beginning of this paper, there are many intercultural organisations that have produced a list of those critical competencies necessary to relate effectively in a variety of cultural contexts. Daniel Kealey‟s (1986: 84) research on a variety of groups in international companies and the military concludes as follows: “contrary to popular opinion, there was a subsequent consensus on the non-technical criteria required for success in another culture”. There is also a fair degree of consensus with a more recent list compiled by TCO-Human Diversity Management-WorldWork (Trickey & Ewington 2001a: unpublished report). In all cases there are 10 orientations, which all include „Interest in local culture‟ „Flexibility‟, „Openness‟, „Initiative‟ or „Influencing‟, and „Positive Self-Image or Personal autonomy/Emotional Resilience‟. TCO-Worldwork has a stronger accent on communication (listening orientation, sensitivity to context, perceptiveness and transparency) while Kealey‟s list focuses on more holistic factors, such as „Empathy‟, „Respect‟, „Sociability‟ and „Tolerance‟. To move away from lists, though, we need to think in terms of modelling competency. The NLP map of the world, mentioned earlier, makes a good beginning.
4. Modelling the Map of the World Dilts termed his model of the modelling process “The Unified Field Model” (Dilts 1990: 138; O‟Connor & Seymour 1990: 88-92) after Einstein‟s attempt to “tie together all physical theories into a single model”. It is, like the rest of NLP, “an operational framework that synthesize[s] the fields of neurology, linguistics and artificial intelligence” (Dilts 1996:1). My adaptation was as follows :
SSLM Norms/Action chains
Visible behaviour Environment
4.1 Meta Programs A further modification is suggested by Mike Cechanowicz (2001: 1) who has adapted the Model to take Meta Programs into account: “context free filter systems that tell us what information is important to pay attention to ... generalisations about importance which have belief systems to support them”. Dilts, who coined the term for this type of filter says they “define our general approach to a particular issue rather than the details” (1990: 217), and organise what we sort for (e.g., „same‟ or „difference‟), or how we orient ourselves to goals and problems, to others, with regard to time, information organisation and chunk size (cf. Katan 1999a:167-176). The exact number or type of Meta Programs involved in modelling reality depends on the scholar. Shelle Rose Charvet (1997), following Roger Bailey‟s business oriented “Language and Behaviour Profile”, itemises 14 Meta Programs, a reduction from the original 60 postulated by Leslie Cameron Bandler. She defines these as “the specific filters we use to interact with the world. They edit and shape what we allow to come in from the outside world. They also mould what comes in from inside ourselves as we communicate and behave in the world” (ibid: 11). The first six categories show “how different people trigger their motivation” (ibid: 17), i.e. what people will be open to perceiving, and in what terms they will interpret what they have perceived. For example, the first motivation trait is proactive/reactive. Will a person tend to act on the environment with little or no consideration or rather wait, consider and analyse the situation before acting? A successful interculturalist, as we shall see, will need a strong reactive tendency.
Another Meta Program sorts for „Sameness‟ or „Difference‟ (cf. Katan 1999a: 168). Which orientation is it more useful to be open to receiving? Both lists of intercultural competencies mentioned above include „Openness‟, which suggests, as the TCO-WorldWork document states: “People who are open tend to be receptive to new ideas (‘new thinking’) and keen to build relationships with people very different from themselves (‘welcoming strangers’). They also accept the way others do things (‘acceptance’), even when attitudes and behaviours are very different from their own” (Trickey and Ewington 2001a). The Meta Programme that these contextualised behaviours refer to is the „Difference pattern‟, which has a less useful side to it: “People with a Difference pattern love change; they thrive on it and want it to be constant and major. They will resist static or stable situations” (Charvet 1997: 78). More useful would be “Sameness with Exception and Difference (the double pattern): People with this double pattern like change and revolutionary shifts but are also comfortable where things are evolving. They are happy with both revolution and evolution” (ibid). The basic difference between „the lists‟ and Meta Programs is that “Meta Programs simply describe the form of our door [through which we interact with the world], what specifically we let in and out in a given situation. It is this recognition ... that sets this tool apart from the psychometric profiles that make sweeping generalizations about our personality” (ibid: 11). 4.2 Intercultural Competence Model The adaptation of the “Logical Levels of Culture” model for intercultural competence begins with the Meta Program filter, followed then by two sets of Logical Levels. The first set represents the context of culture (cf. Katan 1999a: 72-74), which will act as a filter, deleting, distorting and generalising what the Meta Programs have already modified. This map acts as an environmental bubble; it provides the orientation and the communication norms for the more individual map of the world to work with. An individual‟s mission (direction in life), identity (beliefs about role), beliefs (about „the other‟), cluster and order of values, and of course capabilities will, in the first instance, be framed by the higher context of culture: „the world‟. If we take the case of „the fluent fool‟ (Janet Bennett et al, forthcoming ), “the person who learns language without learning culture”, s/he will expect to work within this environmental bubble with all communities, simply because there is no other map to work with: Fundamentally, Dilts‟s model remains valid; each level still psychologically encompasses the level below, following Whitehead & Russell (1910), Korzybski (1933) and Bateson (1972: 177-200). A competent interculturalist, on the other hand, according to the proposed model, will be less subject to a context of culture. In fact, the framing process will initially be more fluid and more interconnected. Michael Hall (2001) suggests there is, in fact, a set of capabilities, values and beliefs operating simultaneously at each logical level. As a person passes through to stages 5 and 6 of the Developmental Model, so the framing is reversed, with the individual map of the world framing, or determining, a particular context of culture to act
within. Logically, for this to happen, there will need to be a meta-level, above both sets of maps, able to organise and choose which contexts of culture to activate. In a similar vein, Meinert Meyer (1991: 143) suggests that, what he calls, transcultural competence is the ability to “stand above both his (sic) own and the foreign culture”, whereas, for Meyer, intercultural competence is more simply bi-cultural competence. There are two maps or contexts of culture to choose from, but no meta-level or competency from which to make that choice. 5. Meta-competences The meta-thinking style related to choosing the most appropriate map was originally outlined by Korzybski in the 1930‟s, and is the sign of the breakthrough to the ethnorelative stages. Following Bennett‟s DMIS, at the „contextual evaluation‟ stage, the interculturalist will have “the skill to shift cultural context and the concomitant self-awareness necessary to exercise choice” (1993: 61). There are two main aspects: intension/extension and perceptual position. 5.1. Intension/Extension Korzybski (1994: lviii) in his introduction to the second edition of his treatise on General Semantics describes two orientations which he borrowed from logic: „intension‟ and „extension‟. He pointed out (xlvi, emphasis in the original) that “every identification is bound to be in some degrees a misevaluation”. The perception, interpretation and evaluation filters mentioned earlier are learnt „intensional‟ Aristotelian orientations. They are dangerous when our map of the world, the “mere nervous constructs inside our skulls” (ibid: lii), are believed to reflect reality, and not the learnt response: “we react ‘as if’ our half-truths or false knowledge were „all there is to be known‟. Thus we are bound to be bewildered, confused, obsessed with fears, etc., because of mistakes due to our mis-evaluations, when we orient ourselves by verbal structures which do not fit facts” (ibid: xlviii, emphasis in original). On the other hand „extensional‟, non-Aristotelian orientations, “induce an automatic delay of reactions, which automatically stimulates the cortical region and regulates and protects the reactions of the usually overstimulated thalamic regions” (ibid: lviii, emphasis in original). It is this extensional orientation which allows people to be open to learning. What this means is the ability to perceive and interpret (visualise in Korzybski‟s language) without immediately evaluating, or rather, without responding through conditioned reflexes. Common sense would probably tell us what research has also found: that “expats who adjust well are non-judgemental and non-evaluative when interpreting the behaviour of locals” (Redding 1996: 393). These expats have, what William Gudykunst (1995: 16) (citing Langer) terms „mindfulness‟ (rather than „mindlessness‟): the ability to “consciously decide to stop automatically processing information”. This ability depends on the existence of another particular ability, the ability to change frame or perceptual position, and to “stand above”.
5.2. Perceptual Position This is, at its most basic, “a particular perspective or point of view” (Dilts 1990: 218). It is similar to a Meta Program in that it is context free; and is essential both for the extensional orientation and for shifting the order of framing. To make an informed decision an individual must be able to disassociate from the anchoring context of one culture, and be able to decide which context of culture to work within at any one time (or “such proficiency as they have”) to produce the most effective behaviour. Disassociation, through change in perceptual position, will always lower the emotional involvement and anxiety with „the other‟, and automatically reduces the „fight or flight‟ Meta Program response to perceived threat:
Metaprograms e.g. reactive, same with difference
Individual Map of the W orld Mission Identity Beliefs Values Contexts of Culture 1, 2, 3,.... Beliefs Beliefs Beliefs Values Values Values Norms Norms Norms Capabilities Behaviour
Performance competence Language competence
3rd perceptual position. A Meta-State Identityinterculturalist Beliefs - relativity of personal/cultural maps
Environment: Reality part of Context of Culture 2 Associated Perceptual Positions Disassociated Perceptual Position
The first perceptual position is that of full internal association. The individual does not perceive „the other‟, except in terms of „self‟. Any perceived differences in reality are automatically „corrected‟ through the Universal Modelling process to fit the person‟s internal model of the world. An example given by Dilts (1990: 8-9) is of a psychiatric patient convinced that he is dead. A doctor proves to him that this cannot be so by making an incision in the patient‟s arm. The patient seeing the blood explains: “I‟ll be damned. Corpses do bleed!”. In terms of interculturality this is equivalent to the “tourist fantasy [which] rules out the possibility of authentic cultural experience” (Bryan Turner 1994: 185). The 2nd perceptual position is still associated. The focus is external, towards „the other‟, so difference is perceived as difference. The tourist is no longer living out a fantasy; s/he is fully aware of the reality. The interpretation and the evaluation, on the other hand, is still, however, internal, in terms of his or own personal and culture-bound norms, which will not necessarily be valued as expected. The 3rd perceptual position, on the other hand, is disassociated. In this position an individual is able to adopt a third frame of reference, or rather a meta-position, from which s/he is able to perceive, interpret and evaluate both the model of the world of „self‟ and that of the „other‟. It is this level of awareness, the 3rd position, also known as „mind shifting‟ (see Katan 1999b:
419) which is absolutely vital to intercultural competence. Giuseppina Cortese (1999: 348), writing about the translator, also points to the importance of “Mobilizing the higher-order cognitive resources, which have scope at the metalevel ... to question all the meaning making levels of a text ...”. The ability to disassociate, to move above one particular mindset, logically entails entering and associating into another mindset which is at a metalevel to both one‟s own map of the world and that of the context of culture. This is what Michael Hall (1995: 12-13, emphasis in the original) calls a “meta-state”: These “…represent highly complex pieces of awareness involving self-reflexive consciousness ... This unique human ability to think about oneself, one‟s thinking, feeling, choosing, behaving, etc. creates the ability to transcend one‟s immediate time, space, being, values, experiences, etc. and to bring other awareness to bear upon things”. 6 Training for competence As Korzybski ( 1994: 456, emphasis in the original) makes clear, “it is practically impossible, without special training” to transcend one‟s socially conditioned reflexes . There is, in fact, now a clear idea of the need to concentrate on those areas “associated with success that are perhaps more amenable to modification through cross-cultural training programs …” (Kealey 1996: 84). Examples cited by Kealey are “work role clarity” and “cultural knowledge” compared with the less modifiable “individual‟s flexibility or capacity for relationship building”. The TCO-WorldWork list of „untrainables‟ includes: Openness, (aspects of) Flexibility, Personal autonomy, and Emotional resilience. Gudykunst et al (1996: 62) actually warn against the reports (that they themselves cite) which suggest that short-term experiential cultural sensitivity training is effective in increasing cultural awareness and potentially changing attitudes. In fact, a number of interculturalists working in business believe that the training can only be effective during or after a trainee has lived or worked in another culture (Williams and Bent: 1996: 392). Trickey (personal communication) disagrees and continue to use, for example, „Culture Shock‟ simulations to raise awareness of the intercultural dimension (for further discussion see Barna 1983; Furnham 1993: 100; J. Bennett et al forthcoming, Weaver 1993: 162). Most of the argument can be reduced to questions regarding the trainee‟s ability to handle the anxiety of experiencing culture shock, which may be simulated in terms of content, but is certainly not so in terms of trainee response. Other aspects can have a more serious affect on training: the competence of the trainer; the limited time usually available to attempt to induce change; and the clash between trainee and the overall organizational needs, both real and imagined. Trickey and Ewington, for example, accept that the following competencies are not trainable: Openness, Personal autonomy, (aspects of) Flexibility and Emotional resilience. Unfortunately these also happen to be the fundamental competencies required for assignments abroad and for regular face-to-face business in an international context. “Openness” is
related to the “Same/Difference” sorting pattern and Bennett‟s DMIS. Only when a trainee is at stage 4 will a trainee be motivated to learn about and respect difference. Clearly, this will be an „intellectual‟ stage 4. In practice, actual and prolonged contact with „difference‟ outside the protective environmental bubble will tend to result in some form of culture shock and negative evaluation, however positive and „open‟ the intentions (cf. Colleen Ward 1992: 131) . 6.1 Towards a Hierarchy of Competencies Though there is not the space here to develop or support the argument, I would suggest that the „untrainables‟ are specifically linked to metaprogrammes and perceptual position, and hence true intercultural competencies while the other competencies are communicative competencies, which can be more easily developed. These competencies underused resources within an individual‟s map of the world, such as Perceptiveness, Listening Orientation, and Transparency. Below these are the technical/work related competencies and language competence, which can only be activated appropriately across cultures once the meta programmes and perceptual positions are functioning at interculturally competent level. With regard to the essential competencies, according to NLP: “Meta Programs may appear to be part of our individual nature, and therefore permanent; in fact [they] can shift in response to changes in ourselves and our surrounding environment” (Charvet 1997: 11), which is exactly in line with Bennett‟s Developmental Model. NLP methodology has been developed around change, and in particular around opening up options in an individual‟s map of the world, though Meta Program modification is certainly more problematic (cf Cechanowicz 2001: 1). This is not the area, though, for intercultural trainers, but for therapists, which leads to the greatest problem regarding Meta Program change for intercultural competence. NLP generally operates on the one condition that the client is at least aware that a change of some sort is required. Very often, however, the professionals who would most benefit from change are those least likely to be interested in making any. These people will be firmly anchored to one of the ethnocentric stages, which they believe reflects reality. These participants, managers, who are used to taking the initiative and making decisions based on their own resources, do not perceive any need to change their highly developed (and highly rewarded) intension orientation. 6.2 Intercultural training today With this realisation, a number of organisations are now using a psychometric inventory of cross-cultural sensitivity to assess a participant before any training (Mitchell Hammer 1988). They are designed to generate a graphic profile of an individual‟s predominant stage of development. A more recent test, in the process of being produced (Trickey and Ewington 2001) is called the “International Profiler”. The aim of this questionnaire is not so much to test how ethnocentric or ethnorelative an individual is, but rather to generate a more complete profile of orientations, the potential
competencies. The same test may also be used to benchmark the job itself; so professional intercultural encounters and assignments may soon be classified according to a specific profile of intercultural competencies to be matched by suitable professionals. We are still, though, a long way from overcoming the first barrier and ensuring that what is different be a challenge rather than a danger.
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