Tafterjournal n. 81 - marzo 2015

Cultural intelligence and internationalization: An approach to cultural and creative organizations


Rubrica: Reti creative

Parole chiave: , , , , ,



Cultural intelligence
Earley and Ang (2003: 9) define cultural intelligence (CQ) as “a person’s capability for successful adaptation to new cultural settings, that is, for unfamiliar settings attributable to cultural context“. Cultural intelligence is defined by the authors as an intelligence builder consisting of three dimensions or elements: metacognitive and cognitive; motivational; and behavioral. According to Ang and Inkpen (2008), metacognitive CQ refers to a level of conscious cultural awareness during cross-cultural interactions, as well as the learning process taking place by association; cognitive CQ refers to the learning of norms, practices, and conventions in different cultures; motivational CQ refers to a capability to direct attention, energy and motivation towards learning about and functioning in new culture situations; and behavioral CQ refers to a capability in exhibiting appropriate verbal and nonverbal actions taken while interacting with people from different cultures. The authors suggest that CQ can explain the variability of responses to new cultural situations, similar to how emotional intelligence (EQ) complements cognitive intelligence (IQ). Earley and Ang (2003) point out that CQ is radically different from other intelligences, focusing specifically on culturally relevant skills. Earley (2002) indicates that the emotional and social intelligences are useful in a certain cultural setting, but need not be in another.


This is so for three reasons. Firstly, because rules of social interaction are specific to a culture, and having high levels of social intelligence does not necessarily translate into having the necessary metacognitive capacities to adapt to a different cultural setting. Secondly, because high levels of social or emotional intelligence do not necessarily provide an explanation of how knowledge acquisition occurs in relation to the new cultural and social environment, while cultural intelligence explicitly captures and explains these processes. And, thirdly, the importance of motivation and skills to behave are not reflected in the other intelligences. Ang et al. (2007) show the direct relationship between the combination of CQ elements and the associated cultural adaptation elements. So, metacognitive and cognitive elements constitute cultural judgment and decision making predictors; the combination of motivational and behavioral CQ elements are cultural adaptation predictors; and the combination of metacognitive and behavioral CQ elements are task performance predictors.


Cultural intelligence can be understood as a two variable function: time, and the new cultural setting to which the person needs to adapt. This dynamic aspect of the values (qualitative, quantitative or relative) that cultural intelligence can take, introduces a differential element: cultural intelligence does not depend on legacy issues, but can be trained and maximized, precisely in the context of the two variables on which it depends: the target cultural setting and the time available for adaptation. So, against traditional intercultural training methodologies, Earley and Peterson (2004) highlight three reasons why a CQ-centered training is more beneficial: it is uniquely linked to the individual’s strengths and weaknesses; it provides a comprehensive training concerning the elements of learning and knowledge and the motivational and behavioral traits; and it is designed and planned from an integrated cultural adaptation psychological model, that it is not based on recipes and specific approaches for a given country or cultural environment.


Why is cultural intelligence important for international projects to succeed? Keung and  Rockinson-Szapkiw (2013) show that individuals with high CQ levels are able to lead and to manage more effectively in multicultural environments. Earley, Ang, and Tan (2006) point out that leaders with high CQ can enhance collaboration amongst employees from different countries and cultures. And employees with high CQ that manage cultural diversity effectively are able to align the marketing and product development strategies with consumer segments of different markets. Ang et al. (2007) show that CQ is a performance predictor for managers involved in international projects, and establish a direct relationship between CQ and the success of their projects. Kim and Van Dyne (2012) highlight the negative link between CQ and burnout amongst executives of multinational companies.


Cultural and creative industries
Just as Doyle (2010) points out, a lot has been written about what constitutes culture and which sectors of economic activity it covers. In 1998, as explained in Flew (2011), the UK Creative Industries Mapping Document, as proposed by Tony Blair’s administration, and with the intention of stimulating economic activity relating thereto, and leading the UK to become a global benchmark in terms of creativity, defined creative industries as “those activities which have their origin in individual creativity, skill and talent and which have the potential for wealth and job creation and exploitation of intellectual property” (e.g. Flew, 2011: 9). An initial classification groups together creative industries as: architecture, arts and antique markets, crafts, design, dress designer fashion, film and video, music, performing arts, publishing, software and computer services, television and radio. From the economical point of view, these activities present very different behaviors. This finding is further enhanced if we expand the circle to the cultural industry, and therefore take into consideration creative and cultural industries (CCIs). Either way, in recent years public policies were launched to promote these industries and the role that cities have played in this development was noticed, especially in relation to creative industries. Comunian, Chapain, and Clifton (2010) outline four interrelated dimensions that explain the growth of creative economy: an infrastructure that allows creative people to establish; a favorable policy coming from the public sector; the existence of both networks as well as other factors labeled as soft infrastructures; and a well-connected global marketplace.


Measuring and devoloping different aspects of CQ


CQ measurement
To this date, a CQ measurement tool that has been developed is the Cultural Intelligence Scale (CQS). It consists of a 20 question survey to be answered using a Likert scale of seven levels from 1 to 7 (where 1=strongly disagree; 7=strongly agree). The questions are structured in accordance to the three elements that make the CQ (metacognitive and cognitive, motivational and behavioral). Four questions refer to the metacognitive factor; six to the cognitive; five to the motivational and another five to the behavioral. An example for the latter factor is the question labeled as BEH2: “I use pause and silence differently to suit different cross-cultural situations”.


The CQS was presented in Dyne, Ang, and Koh (2008) and has been extensively validated and proven in Ang et al. (2007).


CQ training
The three components that define CQ are dynamic, can be developed, and therefore, are trainable. Earley and Ang (2003) propose a model for the design of the CQ related training based on the CQ level which needs to be attained (level 1, level 2, level 3). This level is determined by the combination of the binary states of three variables related to the interaction with the new cultural environment: the intensity of the interaction (high/low), its duration (high/ low) and its nature (formal/casual). This defines eight different types of training, according to the 23 possible states of the three variables. Intensity refers to the frequency of contact with one or more members of another culture; duration refers to the amount of time the person is in contact with the target culture; and nature refers to the type of interaction a person has, which can be classified as formal, if it entails officially assigned work, or casual, if it refers to an interaction of less conventional nature.


The various elements that build CQ can also be developed from the competence management point of view. Different scholars have identified the following skills as typical of cross-cultural training: communication skills, tolerance for ambiguity, empathy, open-mindedness, flexibility, ability to adopt a dual focus, positive attitude to learning, tolerance for different styles and cultures, cultural knowledge, and ability to succeed in multiple and diverse environments.


The different required competencies can be associated to each of the CQ elements. That is, each of the elements that build CQ is separately trainable. While going into detail about this exceeds the purposes of this paper, the motivational aspect of the CQ is particularly relevant, because motivational CQ explains cross-cultural work adjustement, even when cognitive CQ indexs are high (e.g.,Templer, Tay and Chandrasekar, 2006).


Proposal 1: Cultural intelligence can be measured, trained and maximized in function of the specific required skills, the time available and the target cultural setting.


CQ in CCIs internationalization

Cultural intelligence is associated with the individual capacity to adapt to a new cultural setting. However, companies and organizations are also endowed with intelligence, and therefore may exhibit the hallmarks of cultural intelligence we see in the individuals themselves. Analogously to the definition of cultural intelligence for individuals, Moon (2010) defines organizational CQ or cultural capability as the organization’s ability to operate and manage culturally diverse environments. Moon (2010) adds that organizational CQ is also a multifactor construct which consists of processes, positions, and paths capability. The processes have to do with the organization’s capacity to modify or create the necessary practices to adapt to the new cultural setting. The position has to do with the specific resources to adjust to the new environment. Alternatively, Ang and Inkpen (2008: 338) define firm-level cultural intelligence as “a form of organizational intelligence or firm-level capability in functioning effectively in culturally diverse situations”, and distinguish three dimensions of intercultural capabilities linked to the position: managerial, competitive, and structural. Finally, the path capability refers to the organization’s capacity to create an evolutionary adaptation process. This process is closely linked to the different internationalization stages through which an organization can undergo.


Given the impossibility of analyzing in this article the CQ aspects influencing during the internationalization of the different CCIs, the case of the music industry and the role of cities as “creative and cultural organizations” will be discussed below.


Ning-yu and Chi-yin (2013) start from a model consisting of three CQ levels to explain how the latter impacts on the process of cultural adaptation. The different levels are the individual CQ, the team CQ and the organizational CQ. They draw up four propositions on this matter: the individual CQ will affect the performance in a cross-cultural situation through the mediation of adaptation, and this relationship will be moderated by the existing relative cultural distance between cultural backgrounds; the team CQ will affect the cross-cultural team’s effectiveness as long as good communication and conflict management exist; and the organizational CQ will affect the organization’s globalization process as long as there is good organizational adaptation, under the terms described above by Moon (2010).


This multilevel model leads us to think that multicultural relationships not only occur in individuals or organizations that internationalize their activity, and, therefore, come into contact with a different cultural setting, but also occur within organizations, both in multidisciplinary and multicultural teams and in relationships with suppliers or customers.


Proposal 2: Multicultural relationships take place during internationalization activities, in the interior of organizations and in the vertical relationships that these establish.


Creative Cities
Bonet, Colbert, and Courchesne (2011) emphasize the way in which the concept of ‘Creative Cities’ has been adopted by the cities themselves as a development strategy to attract public and private funds, improve their positioning in the global economy and attract tourism. Lazzeretti, Capone, and Boix (2012) start from the trend studied by various scholars about the existing geographical concentration of creative industries to highlight four reasons: the existence of a historical heritage; the “agglomeration economies”, defined as cost optimization derived from the benefits provided by the concentrated localization of the value chain actors; the “related-variety” and “cross-fertilization”, in reference to the relationship between economic activities in terms of competences, innovations and transfers of knowledge; and, finally, the “creative class” contribution, in the terms defined by Florida (2012) in accordance to his 3T theory (Technology, Talent and Tolerance). De-Miguel-Molina, et al. (2012) prove the link between the development of a region and the existance of creative industries, as well as the colocalization between creative industries and high-tech manufacturing industries.


Currently, creative cities compete globally to attract the best talent and associated industry; and, at the same time, they generate collaborative bonds from connectivity, knowledge sharing and the similarity of the challenges they face.


Cities need high levels of organizational CQ, both to interact with other cities and to reposition themselves in a competitive environment with finite resources. Individually, professionals working in their bodies require high levels of CQ to, on one hand, establish appropriate links with their counterparts in other cities, and, on the other, to develop an attractive ecosystem for creative professionals, in harmony with the city’s own profile. When regular collaboration projects take place between representatives of different cities high levels of team CQ are also required.


Proposal 3: A city with elevated organizational CQ enhances its competitive capacity and international positioning, and, therefore, attracts talent and produces economic activity.


The first decade of the XXI century brought a revolution in the production, distribution and consumption of music products, known as new music economy. Wikström (2013) summarizes the new dynamics of the music industry in three features, made possible by the development of digital media technologies: a high connectivity and an ineffective regulatory control; music is provided as a service, and the increment of amateur creativity. Wikström (2013) classifies the music industry as an example of copyright industry, as opposed to the previous classifications of cultural industry, or more recently, creative industry. According to the author, the copyright industries are known for offering “experience products”, where the consumer is unable to test the product until it has been consumed (heard in the case of music), which causes high levels of uncertainty and increases the risk of commercialization. This risk is relevant because of the high production and low reproduction costs, which drive copyright industries to the maximization of audiences and scale economy.


Music, as such, is a service meant to be consumed, according to Florina and Andreea (2012), under a do-learn-like scheme, i.e., promotion leads to consumption, then approval takes place and satisfaction leads to repetitive consumption, due to the product’s short shelf life; and here production success is very hard to predict. In any case, we can distinguish between two types of consumers: the “lean forward listener”, who finds time to research and discover new music to like; and the “lean backer”, who is passive and requires guidance during consumption process (for example, via predefined lists).


The communication technology advances which have led us to a connected world, allow access to global cultural goods, amongst which is music. Ferreira and Waldfogel (2013) point out that new communication channels not only do not reduce the consumption of domestic music (national), but also allow artists from small countries (as to their importance in the global music industry) to find new audiences, both in their home country and abroad. An example for this access is explained by Florina and Andreea (2012) when describing the success of “popcorn” Romanian musicians thanks to the social networks. “Popcorn” is a musical style aimed at young audiences and made by digitally composed music, with repetitive rhythms, electronic effects, catchy lyrics and exotic sounds. The authors highlight the direct link between social media promotion and direct contact to fans with these artists’ success.


Because the music business is currently in the cloud, one might think that musical production is geographically delocalized, since technology allows a type of musical production in which the artists do not need to share their temporal and spatial locations. However, same as it happens in other creative industries, a grouping of the music industry’s productive fabric is detected in the form of clusters located in certain geographical areas.


In this new musical economy, producers are in the middle of the value chain. Often more important than the artist, and even sometimes assuming their role. In the new musical economy, producers should possess the necessary entrepreneurial skills, while achieving a high CQ in order to adapt to a changing cultural setting and to working with a multidisciplinary team. Their work per project leads them to formal cultural exchange situations of high intensity and short duration. In addition, the staff involved in the creative process must possess a high team CQ to manage communication and conflict management effectively.


The concentration of musical clusters in certain locations requires professionals coming from diverse backgrounds. As an individual, a professional needs a high CQ in order to succeed in his or her work. Training for this agrees with a distinct profile: formal setting, and high intensity and duration.


In the new musical economy, the artist is a brand. They require the backing of social networks and direct interaction with fans to succeed. In general, any artist who is after international acclaim, in order to define a musical style must choose between a standard global policy, by adopting a “mainstream” style; a regional policy, that exports attributes from their own cultural background; or a cultural arbitrage management policy, that takes advantage of the existing subcultures in the target culture. For example, many scholars attribute the success of K-pop, or Korean global music phenomenon, epitomized by Psy with his “Gangnam Style”, to the proper management of a hybridization between Western and Asian cultural standards. However, Oh and Gil-Sung (2013) prefer to describe the K-pop phenomenon as corresponding to a Global-Local-Global internationalization strategy, which consists of a first “G” that takes advantage of the creative fragmentation existing in a globalized and connected world, to find the raw material for the final compositions, in markets such as Sweden, UK and USA; an “L” with a noticeable Korean accent that adds value and product differentiation; and a final “G” based on distribution through Youtube, serving as the global channel for product viralization. The artist, as an individual, requires high CQ levels in order to behave in the different cultural settings to which he is constantly exposed and, at the same time, to maintain the necessary motivation associated with a life of permanent distance from his or her original geographical location. The artist’s cultural exchange situations are both formal and casual, and often present low intensity and duration.


Finally, the music label, once the center of all the value chain, has had to redefine its role in this new economy. Some have focused on fixing 360º agreements with surefire artists; some try to continue exploiting the old model; and others are geared towards live music, which has inherited the leadership in generating the revenue that recorded music previously had. In any case, the label is no longer an essential element of the value chain, and therefore, new market actors have emerged, specializing in specific tasks such as promotion, fan community management, or music publishing. All these organizations require a high organizational CQ to carry out their projects successfully. Especially, for example, when a music company is choosing between markets to determine their profitability, it must also determine their organizational CQ and what will be required for adjusting to them.


Proposal 4: Adequate cross CQ management in the new musical economy’s value chain is related to the success of the projects developed by each of its members.


Conclusions and future directions

This paper presents cultural intelligence as a necessary capacity for adaptation to a new cultural setting (individual, team or organizational). Cultural intelligence can be measured, trained and maximized depending on the specific required skills, the time available and the target cultural setting.


Therefore, it is possible to design and implement a skills development plan linked to cultural intelligence as part of the strategic plan of the project to conduct. The new cultural setting can come as part of an internationalization project, but also as the result of a multicultural day to day, either in vertical relationships within an organization or at the very composition of the collaborating team.


The analysis of the two environments (creative cities and their role in a globalized economy, and the new music industry, born from digitization and a connected world) allows us to justify a plan for the development of cultural intelligence adjusted to each of these environments, and to connect the development and success of the conducted projects with the acquisition of high levels of cultural intelligence. A similar analysis can be made with each of the creative and cultural industries, since cultural intelligence is linked to the individual’s strengths and weaknesses and it is applied from a psychological integrated model of cultural adaptation.


It has been studied and written enough on cultural intelligence and its positive influence on the adaptation to a new cultural setting, but it is necessary to go deeper into the required methodologies for its measurement and training, in the different dimensions that compose it.


As far as its training, starting from the eight stages resulting from the shape, intensity and duration of the cultural exchange situation, research should be done on which methodologies are more suitable in relation to the dimensions of cultural intelligence (metacognitive/cognitive, motivational and behavioral), the types of CQ (individual, team or organizational) and the competencies to be developed in accordance to the different types of scenarios.



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