Intercultural Communication Competence and its Development: New Theoretical and Applied Perspectives
Intercultural Communication Competence (ICC) is a current research interest in several disciplines and one of the main topics in intercultural communication training. ICC refers to knowledges, skills, and attitudes needed to interact effectively and appropriately with people who have different cultural backgrounds. The increase in multiculturalism and intercultural communication in societies has augmented the need for ICC. To develop it, effective intercultural communication training is needed. However, several scholars have pointed out that the theoretical background of ICC is inadequate for training purposes. Furthermore, only few studies and theories have focused on the process of ICC learning even though that understanding is crucial for promoting the teaching of ICC. This PhD project aims to clarify, increase, and deepen the knowledge of ICC, particularly on how it is learned and how that that learning could be supported. The theoretical background of this study is interdisciplinary, including views of Intercultural Communication, CrossCultural Psychology, Educational Sciences, and Speech Communication. The study consists of a theoretical sub-study, an empirical sub-study, and a synthesis. Both sub-studies are independent qualitative analyses that will describe ICC and its development. The first study will gather researchers’ views and theories on the topic. In the second study, data will consist of conceptions and experiences of members of multicultural groups. In the synthesis, the theoretical and empirical perspectives will be integrated into one multidimensional framework. The framework will be applied to contribute to ICC training and education. Theoretically, the study aspires to describe and discuss the phenomenon from currently relevant perspectives. Earlier, ICC has been mainly studied as competences that are needed when going to a foreign country or when communicating with members of specific national cultures. These perspectives are not sufficient to explore all the aspects of ICC that are necessary in the modern multicultural societies. In this study ICC is approached as competence for intercultural interaction needed: 1/in any culture, also our own; 2/with communicators and in situations that are culturally diverse, i.e. individuals with hybrid cultural identities or situations where several cultural values, rules, etc. are equally present; 3/for creating and negotiating new cultures, common to all participants (3rd cultures, intercultures). In addition, as the ICC theorizing and research has been criticized of being culturally biased, too Western, and for using researcher-imposed approaches, this study emphasizes to need to discuss ICC as culturally diverse as the interviewees define it.