Concept of the Intercultural Incompetence

In contrast to the intercultural competence, the intercultural incompetence can be defined as managers and employees’ prejudiced behaviors, negative attitudes to representatives of different cultures, and stereotyping (Deardorff, 2009). If the intercultural competence is important to guarantee the mutual understanding, cooperation, and openness in the organization, the intercultural incompetence can have opposite effects on the organizational culture and the future development of the firm (Martin & Nakayama, 2015).

When managers and employees are incompetent in terms of understanding each other’s cultural backgrounds and differences, it is possible to observe such negative outcomes as stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination that are related to the daily communication, work on projects, and collaboration (Deardorff, 2009; Martin & Nakayama, 2015). Therefore, the costs of intercultural incompetence can be high for the organization that does not work to address the cross-cultural conflicts.

From this perspective, the behaviors that are associated with the intercultural incompetence can have the significant negative impact on the organization. The reason is that employees feel the constant stress when they work in environments where their cultures are not respected (Deardorff, 2009). They also develop negative attitudes toward each other, as well as wrong assumptions that can be based on their own interpretations misled by previous experiences (Martin & Nakayama, 2015).

Cross-cultural conflicts usually result in the decreased levels of motivation, performance, and productivity in employees because they do not discuss the organization or coworkers as sharing their values (Washington, Okoro, & Thomas, 2012). The employees also become less committed to the organization and its culture (Deardorff, 2009). Furthermore, if these companies plan to expand their operations globally, they usually experience challenges while working with partners and clients because their managers demonstrate the intercultural incompetence.

In their article, Washington et al. (2012) state that “in international business situations, how competent and competitive firms are both domestically and internationally and how they effectively communicate to their stakeholders will determine how successful a firm is internationally” (p. 217). From this point, it is important for organizations to work on the development of the intercultural competence in order to gain more benefits associated with the improved communication and collaboration.

In order to ensure that the intercultural training is effective, and employees demonstrate the progress in developing their intercultural competence, as well as positive attitudes to the learning, it is necessary to conduct regular assessments. The employees’ progress should be monitored in order to conclude whether the proposed training or other efforts have the positive outcomes (McClay & Irwin, 2008).

While studying the learners’ responses to the training activities, it is possible to understand how they plan to apply the learned information and how their skills were developed. If the employees’ feedback is negative, it is possible to assume that they do not understand the role of the intercultural competence in their practice, no changes can be observed in their behaviors, and significant revisions are necessary for the training program (McClay & Irwin, 2008).

It is important to state that those organizations where the intercultural competence is at the high level are more successful while operating globally, Therefore, while referring to studies of employees’ reactions and responses, it is possible to conclude whether the organization is ready to work at the global level as an international or multinational company or it needs focusing on the intercultural training.


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

Martin, J. N., & Nakayama, T. K. (2015). . Language and Intercultural Communication, 15(1), 13-28. Web.

McClay, R., & Irwin, L. (2008). The essential guide to training global audiences. San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer.

Washington, M. C., Okoro, E. A., & Thomas, O. (2012). Intercultural communication in global business: An analysis of benefits and challenges. The International Business & Economics Research Journal, 11(2), 217-221. Web.

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