Cultural Intelligence – How do we get there? The Research
Are you convinced yet how important it is to develop your cultural intelligence, your CQ?
Cultural intelligence (CQ) is defined as: the capability to function effectively across various cultural contexts (national, ethnic, organizational, generational, etc.).
If you are convinced, you may be wondering, how do I get there? In an earlier blog, I laid out five challenging but important steps towards improving our CQ. Before I start into explaining the different steps in more detail, I thought I would first explain the research that has gone into four of the five steps.
To give you a little background, cultural intelligence or CQ was developed as a concept to provide an overarching theoretical framework to tie together the numerous intercultural models into an academically valid way of conceptualizing and measuring the capability of cultural competence. The driving question behind the cultural intelligence research is: Why can some individuals move in and out of lots of varied cultures easily and effectively while others can’t?
The cultural intelligence research stems from academic scholars all over the world. The question behind the research is this: What’s the difference between individuals and organizations that succeed in today’s globalized, multicultural world and those that fail?
The primary research question is not: “Who are the culturally sensitive?” (because you can be culturally sensitive and still not be effective). Nor is it “Who are the culturally aware?”—because awareness isn’t enough.
Instead, the researchers at the Cultural Intelligence Center were interested in discovering what characteristics consistently emerge among those who can effectively move in and out of many different cultures.
Based upon research from more than 65 countries, and surveying more than 35,000 global professionals, there are some answers.
The research reveals that the culturally intelligent—individuals who effectively accomplish their objectives regardless of the cultural context—have strengths in four key capabilities: CQ Drive, CQ Knowledge, CQ Strategy, and CQ Action. They can also be thought of as four steps to developing CQ.
CQ Drive (motivation) is your interest, drive and confidence to adapt to a multicultural situation.
CQ Knowledge (cognition) is your understanding about how cultures are similar and different.
CQ Strategy (meta-cognition) is your awareness and ability to plan for multicultural interactions.
CQ Action (behavior) is your ability to adapt when relating and working interculturally.
Here is a video that helps explain the four capabilities.
What is the DNA of Cultural Intelligence or CQ? Culturally intelligent people have strengths in 4 capabilities: drive, knowledge, strategy, and action. Over the next several blogs, I will explain each of these in more detail. I will also discuss a fifth capability that is not in the research and is from my (and others’) experience: cultural humility.
 Information for this post comes mostly from the Cultural Intelligence Center training materials.