Developing Cross-Cultural Competence

Differences between people can be an asset or a liability for organizations. On the one hand, differences can be a source of negative emotions and destructive conflict. On the other hand, differences can be a source of learning and value. The impact of differences on performance will depend on how well those differences are managed.

This seminar concerns creating value from differences. Differences between people have traditionally been analyzed according to race, gender, or sex. Our focus is on culture as a practical way for understanding and managing differences. We review what has been learned about differences from a cultural perspective.

A key part of this seminar is a group exercise that has been developed to show participants how differences can be an asset or a liability. Groups of participants complete the task and their “survival” will depend on how well they work together and learn from differences.

Participants will also learn practical ideas about the process of creating value from differences. Participants are introduced to methods for teaching and learning about differences. In addition, tips for managing conflict across differences are shared. This includes listening, giving criticism, and building relationships across cultures. Participants leave the seminar with a new perspective on differences and diversity in their organization as well as some practical ideas for how to create value from differences.

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