Chapter 21Cultural Intelligence

‘Cultural Intelligence' is a relatively recent term coined by P. Christopher Ealey and Soon Ang.4 They defined Cultural Intelligence as a person's capability to adapt as he/she interacts with others from different cultures. They also posited that these capabilities are a form of intelligence that can be measured and developed. They suggested calling it CQ (Cultural Quotient).

Cultural Intelligence is related to Emotional Intelligence, but, in the words of Christopher Ealey, ‘It picks up where Emotional Intelligence leaves off’.5

‘A person with high Emotional Intelligence grasps what makes us human and, at the same time, what makes each of us different from one another. A person with high Cultural Intelligence can somehow tease out of a person’s or group's behaviour those features that would be true of all people and all groups, those peculiar to this person or this group, and those that are neither universal nor idiosyncratic. The vast realm that lies between those two poles is culture.’

The key hypothesis behind Cultural Intelligence is that understanding the impact of an individual's cultural background on their behaviour is essential for effective business.

Furthermore, we can develop strategies and skills to improve our cultural perception – to enable us to distinguish behaviours that are driven by someone's background from those that are specific to them as individuals. Of course, the implicit assumption is that appreciating the difference ...

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