Developing Multicultural Competence

By Luciara Nardon, Richard M. Steers & Carlos J. Sanchez-Runde

In our globally expanding economy, it is no longer enough for successful managers to have great directive skills, they must also be able to understand and adapt to the different cultures they operate in. The recently published Management Across Cultures: Developing Global Competencies (Cambridge University Press) takes a look at the ideological challenges managers are faced with and proposes different strategies for developing greater multicultural competence.



IBM executive Michael Cannon-Brookes recently observed, “You get very different thinking if you sit in Shanghai, Sao Paulo, or Dubai than if you sit in New York.” All too often, the essence of this observation is lost on global managers—and would-be global managers—as they seek to make their way in an increasingly complex and nuanced business environment.Many managers working across borders fail to recognize that not everyone agrees with their perception of the facts; not everyone agrees on the meaning of a contract; not everyone agrees on how to lead a company; and, indeed, not everyone agrees on the proper role of supervisors and managers themselves. Uncertainty—and, more importantly, ambiguity—faces managers at every turn. And increasingly, managers realize that that much of what they believe they see around themselves is often something entirely different. Why does this occur with alarming regularity? And what can informed managers do to moderate or attenuate the impact of such contradictions?

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