Academic journal article Management : Journal of Contemporary Management Issues

Linking Individual and Organizational Cultural Competences: One Step Closer to Multicultural Organization *

Academic journal article Management : Journal of Contemporary Management Issues

Linking Individual and Organizational Cultural Competences: One Step Closer to Multicultural Organization *

Article excerpt

1. INTRODUCTION, BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE

Since the introduction of the cultural competence (CC) concept, organization and individual CCs were commonly observed separately. Contemporary studies, however, proposed a link between the two as these sub-dimensions were frequently found to overlap, which was attributed to the multi-faceted and interconnected nature of cultural competence (The Lewin Group 2002; Fox, 2003; Leiba-ÓSullivan, 1999; Sue, 2001; Hammer, Bennet & Wiesman, 2003; Bhawuk & Brislin, 1992).CC has further been associated with successful outcomes in multicultural contexts as the link between CC and performance in such contexts needs to be examined in order to confirm that the cultural competence is actually present (Dodd, 1998).One of the studies that considered these relations was D.W. Sués (2001) multidimensional model for developing cultural competence (MMDC)which proposed congeniality between person/individual and system/organizational cultural competence foci leading to the multicultural organization development (MOD). The basic premise of the MOD concept is that organizations, like individuals, vary in their receptivity of cultural issues and that the road to multicultural organizations must recognize the interrelationship and interaction between an individual and organization CC (Sue, 2001; Mayeno, 2007).

The outcomes of such relations and, hence, the degree of MOD, would be visible in both, organizational processes and results, i.e. in organizational institutionalisation of cultural knowledge and its particular features and the pursuit of organizational goals by adapting to these features instead by assertively imposing organizational interests (Sue, Carter, Casas, Fouad, Ivey & Jensen, 1998; Jackson & Holvino, 1988; Foster, Cross, Jackson & Hardiman, 1988; Lucia, 1999; Sanches, 2001; Barr & Strong, 1987). In addition, studies based on the integrated individual-organization CC approach to MOD, although scarce, confirmed this presumption. Accordingly, certain studies (Kersien & Savanevicien, 2005; Johnson, Lenartowicz & Apud, 2006) observe OC as a system consisting of individuals, management and the interaction of these elements. They view OC as an organizational value placed on an individual who is able to perform and act in ways that are valued and required by the organizations (Miller & Katz 2002;Chesler, Lewis & Crowfoot. 2005). For others, OC is an organizational resource consisting of personal/individual competences necessary to work effectively across cultures integrated in organizational practices and manifested in organizational adaptation to the multicultural surroundings (Imahori & Lanigan, 1989; Cross, Barzon, Dennis & Isaacs, 1989).Such propositions are grounded in the resource-based theory of the firm and its later extension, the theory of core competence (Prahalad & Hamel, 1990) which observe OC as a product of organizational learning from and management of diverse individual skills aimed at the achievement of organizational goals and competitive advantage. Although these relations are highly encouraging for investigation, to our knowledge, so far no researches have been undertaken in order to examine and determine their existence. Accordingly, this paper is primarily concerned with addressing this research gap.

In order to do so, there are several steps that need to be followed. First, we underline the critical importance of the managerial factor in the MOD. Sue (2001) emphasizes that the organization cannot ensure the development of cultural competence without genuine, full, and lasting support and direct involvement of the top management. The core competence theory (Prahalad & Hamel, 1990) states that OC arises from the individual talent and skills and implies productive management of IC aimed at realization of organizational goals. Therefore, the managerial role is critical in the MOD as expatriates are responsible for ensuring that employees are doing the right things, and for helping organization align internal behaviors and skills with the strategic multicultural direction of the company. …

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