Cult_Euro_1-Test for Intercultural Competences

Status of research

International status of research

In the scientific literature, the description of the construct intercultural competence shows an enormous heterogeneity and subject specificity (Deardoff, 2006). So far there is no generally valid and theoretically sound overall model whose functionality has been empirically proven in practice (Bolten, 2008; Straub, 2007; Dinges & Baldwin, 1996; Deardorff, 2004; Vegh & Luu, 2019). One of the main reasons for this is the development of rather one-dimensionally determined models, which have been criticized for their lack of selectivity between the individual structural levels (Genkova, 2019).

The measurement of intercultural competence through self-disclosure is the most frequently used method in academic practice. These responses allow conclusions to be drawn about the self-experienced, subjective degree of one's own intercultural competence, which may be distorted by socially desirable responses, leading to a reduction in predictive validity (see Leung et al., 2014; Lustig & Koester, 2012; Engel et al., 2019). With regard to the information- and performance-based measurement of intercultural competence, Sälzer and Roczen (2018) state that this method is the least common in scientific practice. In the course of the information-based method, the intercultural competence of a person is measured and assessed by external behavioural observations. Performance-based measurements, on the other hand, record the degree of intercultural competence using standardised test procedures. Here, problems arise regarding the psychometric characteristics of these tests and the validated measurement equivalence across different cultural spaces. Accordingly, Sälzer and Roczen (2018) generally demand more frequent use of multi-method approaches. In summary, they point to the problem that many scales used measure the performance, but less the real intercultural competence of a person.

For the preparation of the overview, Matveev (2017) identified the available test procedures in the current literature and compared them with the aspects described above. Each of the examined procedures had methodological deficiencies. Although the described procedures examined intercultural competence in a reliable manner, they each examined only one aspect with a specific method, so that there can be no question of construct validity. Further research and the development of more reliable survey methods is therefore needed in this field (Matveev, 2017).

International status of practice

The international status of teaching and promoting intercultural competence in practice can be illustrated by looking at the three sectors of education, business and public administration. The practice of measuring and teaching intercultural competences has many deficits in all sectors.

In principle, serious deficits in the measurement and promotion of intercultural competence can be identified in all areas of application. Dubious or non-valid procedures are used frequently, which are transferred unreflectively to areas for which they were not designed. This is often the case in the German economy. Instead of using research-based procedures and drawing on the diagnostic quality of the procedures, procedures that are widely available on the market and that make sense are used.

Of the 30 DAX companies, 26 have a diversity officer, which can generally be seen as positive (Charta der Vielfalt & Ernst & Young GmbH, 2016). The majority of companies actively promote the integration of migrants through measures such as continuing vocational training, job-specific language support and a special contact person in the company, but not by promoting intercultural competence (Franken, 2019).

Due to the high demand on the one hand and the lack of valid instruments on the other, it is made easy for dubious providers to market their products. Often, instead of intercultural competence, only culture-specific knowledge of the country is presented. This knowledge acquisition in training measures does not, however, lead to a critical questioning of thought and behavior patterns, even though a change of perspective and empathy are the hallmarks of intercultural competence.

In intercultural trainings, users learn about culturally shaped behavior and values through role plays and simulations.

Various consultancies offer seminars and workshops to promote intercultural competence and the global mindset, which are used by organizations. Often, however, it is not clear whether and on which scientifically sound models the training is based.

The goal of promoting intercultural skills is pursued in many areas. However, in most cases the existing instruments are used without any evaluation of their actual reality. This is mainly because, although there is no lack of measuring instruments and procedures in the field of intercultural competence, these do not have sufficient quality criteria. In addition, the term "intercultural trainer" is not protected, so that in practice often unscientifically based methods are used. Furthermore, a verification of the reliability of methods used by consulting firms is almost impossible due to inaccessible data. Moreover, results from one culture are transferred to another culture without critical questioning. There is a lack of evidence-based results and very often plausibility, which in this case is a culture-related plausibility from the perspective of one's own "cultural spectacles", is presented as evidence.


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