Sub-theme 66: When Reason is not Enough: Intercultural Competence Acquisition and Use

Laurence Romani
Stockholm School of Economics, Sweden
Sylvie Chevrier
Université de Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée, France
Christoph Barmeyer
University of Passau, Germany

Call for Papers

Intercultural competences were previously assumed to come mainly from knowledge of cultural differences; reason was supposed to overcome basic stereotypes and leads to appropriate adjustments. Today, intercultural competences are increasingly associated with reflexivity (see Rosenblatt et al., 2013; Gertsen et al., 2012). International assignments, working in multicultural teams or even field studies during training programs are no guarantee of improved intercultural sensitivity or intercultural competence, if the participants do not get a chance to reflect on their experience.

Likewise, intercultural competences have been assumed to be used. ‘Intelligent leaders' would of course use their skills to ease collaborations between members of different cultures. Yet, studies show for example, how bi-cultural individuals can become gate keepers or selective translators (Brannen & Thomas, 2010; Yagi & Kleinberg, 2011). Other studies reveal the tensions that managers face when they have the mission to transfer corporate cultures or management practices to new cultural environments, where they know this is not a cultural preference (Dalton & Drucker, 2012; Gertsen & Zølner, 2012). Most intercultural interactions are not happening in a contextual vacuum. Individuals and organizations have agendas and may choose to use their intercultural skills foremost to their advantage. This is where the notion of responsibility is entering the discussions on intercultural competences. Do managers have a responsibility to use their intercultural competence for inclusive practices? Are they expected to use their competence to be responsible global citizens, that is, not only knowing about but also respecting differences?

This call for paper touches on the three central themes of reason, reflexivity and responsibility:


  1. It invites contributions that examine the role of reason and reasoning as a central element of intercultural knowledge development and acquisition.
  2. It welcomes contributions on the role of reflexivity in the acquisition and transfer of intercultural knowledge, sensitivity, intelligence and competence; in brief, on the necessity for individuals and organisations to favour space and time for reflection if they are to learn.
  3. The third main theme invites a discussion on the responsibility that intercultural managers have in view of their interlocutors. Shall managers promote and implement culturally inclusive practices, thereby promoting an environment respectful of cultural differences? Do they have a moral obligation to do it, a social responsibility to do so? What practices are implied by this responsibility?

More broadly, this sub-theme welcomes papers exploring the nature, creation, development and use of intercultural knowledge and practices in organisations. Contributions employing multidisciplinary approaches and insights from multiple cultural backgrounds are encouraged. Qualitative research and case studies are welcome, as well as conceptual contributions.




  • Brannen, M.-Y., & Thomas, D. (2010): "Bicultural individuals in organizations: implications and opportunity." International Journal of Cross Cultural Management, 10 (1), 5–16.
  • Dalton, K., & Druker, J. (2012): "Transferring HR concepts and practices within multinational corporations in Romania: The management experience." European Management Journal, 30 (6), 588–602.
  • Gertsen C. M., Søderberg, A.-M., & Zølner, M. (2012): Global Collaboration: Intercultural Experiences and Learning. Chippenham: Palgrave MacMillan.
  • Gertsen, M.C., & Zølner, M. (2012): "Recontextualization of the corporate values of a Danish MNC in a subsidiary in Bangalore." Group & Organization Management, 37 (1), 101–132.
  • Rosenblatt, V., Worthley, R., & MacNab, B. (2013): "From contact to development in experiential cultural intelligence education: the mediating influence of expectancy disconfirmation." Academy of Management: Learning & Education, 12 (3), 356–379.
  • Yagi, N., & Kleinberg, J. (2011): "Boundary work: An interpretive ethnographic perspective on negotiating and leveraging cross-cultural identity." Journal of International Business Studies, 42 (5), 629–653.


Laurence Romani is Associated Professor at the Stockholm School of Economics, CASL, Sweden. Her work focuses on issues of representation and interaction with the cultural other in respectful and enriching ways. She considers contributions from critical management, feminist and postcolonial organization studies to further cross-cultural management research and teaching. Laurence has published in 'Organizational Research Method', 'Journal of Business Ethics' or the 'International Journal of Cross-Cultural Management 'and co-edited "Cross-cultural Management in Practice: Culture and Negotiated Meanings" (Edward Elgar).
Sylvie Chevrier is Professor at the University Paris-Est Marne la Vallée and deputy director of the Management Research Institute (IRG), France. Her research interests focus on the management of cross-cultural teams analysed through field studies and interpretive approaches. She has published articles ('Journal of World Business', 'International Journal of Cross-cultural Management') and books on cross-cultural management, such as, "Gérer des équipes internationales" (PUL, 2012), "Management interculturel" (PUF, 2013).
Christoph Barmeyer is Professor for Intercultural Communication at the University of Passau, Germany. His main research interest is in intercultural management, organizational culture and international transfer. He is author and co-author of many articles (e.g., in the 'International Journal of Intercultural Relations', 'International Business Review') and books as "Management interculturel et styles d'apprentissage (PUL, 2007) and "Multinational Enterprises and Innovation" (Routledge, 2012).