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The importance of intercultural communication competence in today's global marketplace

By Arona Maskil
Coordinating and managing people from different cultures within an organizational context represents one of the greatest challenges for the corporate world in the new millennium. One cannot function effectively without an understanding of the subtleties and complexities of managing others in a multicultural and multinational business environment. Businesses and organizations from virtually every culture have entered into the global marketplace.

Just to bring the point across: The top 10 countries with which the United States trades, in terms of both exports and imports, are in order: Canada, China, Mexico, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, South Korea, France, Taiwan, and Brazil. In 2010, U.S. trade with these 10 countries accounted to nearly $3 trillion ($3,000,000,000,000).



Given the dramatic cultural transformation in today's marketplace, the relevance of intercultural communication competence cannot be overstated. To compete in today's global markets, managers must possess the skills to interact with people who are different from themselves.


That said there is no culture-free theory of management. Managing people is the responsibility of people who, like everyone else, have been enculturated and socialized into a cultural set of values and beliefs that governs their thinking, emotions, and behaviors. Moreover, managerial perceptions regarding factors that lead to organizational success vary across cultures.


Professor Philip Rosenzweig of Harvard University argues that successful cross-cultural management depends on the abilities of managers to communicate effectively. He further points out that communication is especially important during the initial stages of a business relationship. Depending on the culture, the process of building trust among business partners may take days, weeks or even months.


This is a process that cannot be accelerated. Many American and Israeli managers prefer to "get down to business" without spending much time getting to know their business partners, in fact, many managers view such relationship building as a waste of valuable time.


A few best practices tips for working cross-culture:

  1. Successful Negotiating: When negotiating in a transactional culture, people begin discussing negotiations right away. When negotiating in a relationship culture, the pre-negotiation process is crucial. Building trust is essential to entering the actual negotiations, so take time to know the people you will be dealing with.
  2. Decision Making: In transactional cultures, decisions are generally made to best serve the interests of the company. Personal relationships may be disregarded if other means will ensure greater efficiency. In relationship cultures, decision-making will take into consideration relationships with employees and clients even if this may affect efficiency of the task.
  3. Business Relationships & Communications: In transactional cultures, business relationships are separate from personal relationships. Communications can go smoothly, even if no relationship is previously established. In relationship cultures, business communications are extremely important. Be careful not to neglect the building and nurturing of personal ties.


Arona Maskil M.A.

Cultural Intelligence (CQ) facilitator, Inter-cultural trainer and Coach, International Education Specialist.


Arona Maskil is an expert trainer on relocation and U.S.-Israel business culture. She works in collaboration with Corporate Resources Group (Israel) Ltd., a Global Human Resources Management & International Mobility Services based in Israel and  also serves as an intercultural trainer for Dwellworks, Intercultural Global Solutions, LLC based in the U.S. She can be reached at:

972-9-9576886 or 972-52-3340445