DOES CULTURAL COMPETENCE MATTER IN BUSINESS COMMUNICATION?

According to Wiemann, Takai, Ota, & Wiemma (1997) the “history of communication
competency could be traced back to ancient Greece, where speech oratory and eloquence were
the main educational themes. Asristotle’s five canons of rhetoric is [sic] probably the earliest
model of competent communication” (p. 25). In today’s world, competency continues to be one
of the core areas in research, interpersonal communication, cultural and professional practices.
The consistent quest to ascertain the attributes of what competence means in communication
has been commonly pursued by variety of professions. However, the common goals have been
to define how people need to communicate effectively in order to build, develop, and maintain
good relationships (e.g., Canary & Stafford, 1994), as well as how they can influence others to
achieve their goals (e.g., KeTlermann, 1992). Collectively, since the main goal in business
communication is to influence and control an audience's responses in ways intended to yield
profit, it is an exigent fact that the unit of analysis for competence in business communication be
axiomatic. In accordance with this presupposition, what does cultural competence in business
communication look like? What does the applicability of the concept mean to the business world
in terms of admeasurements?
Modern day communication scholars want us to understand communication competency
in cultural relations as "a situational ability to set realistic and appropriate goals and to maximize
their achievement by using knowledge of self, other, context, and communication theory to
generate adaptive communication performances" (Friedrich; 1994). In consideration of this
recommendation, it becomes immediately obvious for the business world to tap into the concept
of cultural competency in communication given its nature of constant reinvention coupled with
the advent of a multicultural society and global economy. Communities and cultures are
transcending the geographical distance, which once posed as barriers, so as to advance and
accomplish the main goal of business. In view of the fact that cultures are different,
communication pattern and expectation within them conjecture same. For this reason there can
be no clear cut module of what cultural communication competency should look like. However,
assumptions can be made on what could be an appropriate module based on a given situation
so that business professionals can avoid skilled incompetence in cultural communication. One
way to overcome this skilled incompetence is to unearth the mental models of what their
perceived appropriateness and effectiveness are in dealing with different cultural scenario.
Consequently, there can be co-creating of an inquiry-oriented appropriate model of cultural
communication competence. This process should consider such criteria as adaptability of the
situation, the ability to change behaviors and goals to meet the needs of interaction, the
conventional involvement in terms of the cognitive involvement demonstrated through the
interaction, conversational management, how communicators regulate their interactions by
adaption and control of social situation and effectiveness in achieving the objectives of the
conversation.
The consequence for the actualization of competence in culture and communication is
the ability to understand others’ expectations in a given situation while bearing in mind that you
are dealing with individuals and there is always an exception to every rule. In closing,
communication competence does matter in business communication. However, there are no
hard and fast rules that guide competence in cultural communication.

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Comment by Ogba on April 4, 2010 at 11:10am
Nice article ..though a little bit abstract.I would love the application in a subsequent blog which would relate to our contemporary environment.

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