Receiver-related Intercultural Communication Barriers to Organizational Learning

While the sender may encounter barriers to communicating information and knowledge to others for the reasons outlined above, the other part of the communication dyad is the receiver. Both the organization and individuals within the organization are potential receivers of information and knowledge critical to organizational learning.

There are two major factors that can affect the receptivity of both organizations and individuals: cosmopolitanism and satisficing behaviors.


Cosmopolitanism is an attitudinal stance or mindset that indicates an orientation toward the outside world (Merton, 1957). As originally conceived, it emphasized people who are oriented towards the outside world, and contrasted them with ‘locals’ who are more focused on local affairs (Merton, 1957). While later this was expanded to include a distinction between those in organizations who are oriented to a reference group outside the firm (Gouldner, 1957; 1958), it is this original external orientation to the world upon which we will draw. With increasing globalization, the concept of cosmopolitanism has received renewed attention, with an added emphasis on a willingness to engage with the external world. Some researchers (e.g. Levy, Beechler, Taylor, and Boyacigiller, 2007) identify cosmopolitanism as one of the two essential characteristics of global mindset. Hannerz (1996: 103) describes cosmopolitanism in this fashion: ...

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