The JGM BitBlog: Developing Cultural Agility - How Global Mobility Can Transform Your Company's International Game
Paula Caligiuri, Northeastern University, Boston, United States
In the rapidly globalizing world, the demand for culturally agile professionals, those who can effectively work in a cross-cultural context, is on the rise. Cultural agility is a meta-competency that allows individuals to work comfortably and effectively in different countries and with people from different cultures. The need for such professionals is even more pronounced in the current scenario where traditional in-person global mobility experiences may not return at the rate predicted before the pandemic. This raises the question of whether a decrease in culturally novel, in-person global mobility opportunities could limit the pipeline of culturally agile talent in the future. It might. This puts an even greater emphasis on the global mobility function to ensure the in-country are as developmental as possible.
Culturally agile individuals can accurately read a culturally novel situation, select the correct cultural response, and execute that response within the context. This requires a combination of self-management, relationship-management, and task-management competencies. Self-management competencies, such as tolerance of ambiguity, resilience, and curiosity, enable individuals to self-regulate in any context of novelty. Relationship-management competencies, like perspective taking, humility, and relationship building, enable people to foster trust and develop enduring relationships in any context. Task management competencies, including cultural adaptation, cultural minimization, and cultural integration, enable individuals to execute the correct response for the given context.
The development of cultural agility competencies is facilitated through developmental experiential opportunities, such as global mobility experiences. These experiences provide opportunities for individuals to practice and enhance their competencies while living and working in a host country. However, the nature and quality of the international experiences that people have in their host countries greatly affect their ability to develop. The level of cultural novelty in the international experience, the readiness of an individual for that level of cultural novelty, the individual’s level of awareness of the cultural norms and values, and the level of social support offered to that individual are all interconnected factors affecting whether a specific culturally novel experience will develop an individual’s cultural agility.
In conclusion, cultural agility is a critical competency in today's globalized business environment. Developing this competency requires a combination of self-management, relationship-management, and task-management competencies, which can be enhanced through global mobility experiences. However, the effectiveness of these experiences in developing cultural agility depends on several factors, including the level of cultural novelty, the individual's readiness for that level of novelty, their awareness of cultural norms and values, and the level of social support they receive. As the world continues to globalize, the demand for culturally agile professionals is likely to continue to rise, making the development of these competencies an important goal for HR and global mobility leaders.
To read the full article, please see the Journal of Global Mobility publication:
Caligiuri, P.M. (2023), "Development of cultural agility competencies through global mobility", Journal of Global Mobility, Vol. 11 No. 2, pp. 145-158.