Impact Of Cultural Intelligence On Job Performance


The aim of this paper is to explore what cultural intelligence is and how it impacts job performance. Cultural intelligence is considered as the important ability an employee should possess in order to work effectively with people from different cultural backgrounds. In today’s globalized world it becomes necessary for individuals to adopt different cultures easily and to respect differences among different cultures. In this paper, components of cultural intelligence ways to measure cultural intelligence, and impact of cultural intelligence on employee performance has been discussed.
Now we are living in a globalized world where people from different races, gender, color, and nations work together to achieve organizational goals. In this diversified world, those employees are successful who have cultural Intelligence because it helps them to work with different people effectively. CQ is necessary for people of all hierarchal level of an organization because it helps to create a unique culture within an organization where people respect differences and enjoy similarities, therefore, it has become a popular topic in international workplace.

Cultural Intelligence (CQ) means the ability of an individual to understand different cultures and be effective across different cultures Ang, Dyne, & Koh, (2006). Here culture does not mean only national culture; in fact, cultural intelligence reflects person’s ability to understand different cultures like ethnic, organizational, national, and generational and easily adopt these cultures. There are four capabilities an individual must possess in order to work effectively in different cultures; CQ Drive, CQ Knowledge, CQ Strategy, and CQ Actions. In order to work effectively in different cultures an individual needs these four basic capabilities because these capabilities help him/her to easily adjust in any diversified culture.

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Importance of Cultural Intelligence on Job Performance

CQ is very important for employees to effectively perform their job because it helps them in adoption of new culture, CQ knowledge helps them to understand the similarities and differences between different cultures, CQ strategy facilitates them to work effectively in new culture, and CQ actions improve their performance, Farrell, & Grant, (2005). Switching from one culture to another is not an easy task but these four capabilities help employees to accept the new culture and improve their performance. (Arora and Rohmetra 2010) stated in their article that cultural intelligence is one of the very important managerial competencies a manager must possess to deal people from different cultures. CQ creates a bridge that overcomes differences between people and helps them to work together.

In order to achieve organizational goals, it is necessary to hire people from different cultures because people from different backgrounds possess different qualities and to get success an organization must have a pool of diversified workforce done, & Ang, (2008). An organization needs managers or leaders who work effectively across borders and with different people. It is the responsibility of a manager to motivate his subordinates and to get work from them. A work team should be diversified, having people from different expertise so that they can work together and achieve organizational goals. Managers or leaders who have cultural intelligence can easily work across different cultures.

Traditional organizations also have sub cultures.Within any large traditional organization, there are different subcultures as well. People of finance department cannot understand sales force teams, similarly, engineers cannot effectively communicate with lawyers. But in modern organizations, people from different departments work as a project team and the problem of sub cultures does not exist. Diversified teams do not only increase organizational profitability but also increase employee performance. Employees from different areas when working together as a team, learn new skills from each other which enhance their performance and polish their skills.
People who are socially famous among their peers have cultural intelligence because they know how to behave with different people and how to work effectively with them. On the other hand, employees who are not socially famous among their peers do not possess cultural intelligence because they fully embody the norms and habits of their native culture and find difficult to accept norms and values of other cultures. The rigidness ultimately affects employee performance and become the reason of their low or poor performance.

Although some people have innate cultural intelligence others can learn it too by working across different cultures. When people first time shift from one culture to another they find difficult to accept the new culture but when people work with different teams or within the different culture they become habitual of accepting the differences and easily adjust in the new culture. A survey of 2000 managers in 60 countries has been conducted in order to find out the effectiveness of cross-culture teams, and the results showed that by giving cross-functional assignments, and job transfers increase cultural intelligence but managers who possess strong inherent cultural values cannot work effectively across different cultures Trian dis, (2006).

The three most important components of cultural intelligence are the cognitive, physical, and emotional or motivational. Cultural intelligence resides in the human head, heart, and in the body. Cognitive components rely on the human head, physical relies on the body, whereas emotional or motivational relies on the heart. However, most managers are not strong in all three areas but each component has its own strengths and advantages on job performance.

Head: Cognitive ability relies on person’s head. The approach of rote learning that corporate training programs favor, will never prepare employees about every situation that arises when they deal with people from different cultures Thomas, & Inkson, (2004). Though, they prepare them that have to confront different people and situations. People who already know that they have to deal with different people are less resistant than those who have no idea with whom they will deal. Already prepared mind help employees to accept change easily and identify the differences.
Moreover, most employees find it difficult to identify a point of entry into the new culture. On the other hand, employees with high cultural intelligence easily identify the point of entry into any new culture. Cognitive ability helps employees to adjust to the new culture and enhance their performance.
Body: People from different cultures behave differently in different situations; even their gestures and postures are different. Every culture has its own way to react to different situations. When dealing with foreign clients a manager must have some information about their culture and react accordingly because it will create the good impact on foreign delegates. Whether it is the way to shake the hand or make eye contact, everything matters when you interact with people from different cultures. Manager’s ability to mirror the gestures and customs of foreign clients shows that he/she esteem them well and respect the Crowne, (2008).

Additionally, many researchers have been done in order to find factors that help people to adjust to new culture easily. Burks S. J. conducted a research on cultural barriers on business and found out job candidates who adopt some behaviors of recruiters will more likely to get job offers, Dyne, & Koh, (2008). Adopting gestures and posters of people from different culture helps an employee to mingle with them easily.
Heart: Adopting any new culture is not easy because people are habitual of their native culture. Only those people can adopt new cultures who are motivated to do so and believe in their own efficacy. Emotional and motivational factor relies on the human ability of acceptance. Employees who accept the differences among different culture tend to adapt easily. On the other hand, employees who are not motivated to work on new culture find it difficult to adopt that culture and it decreases their performance Farrell, & Grant, (2005).

Additionally, people with high motivation show greater performance than people with low motivation. Motivational factor increases level of efficiency and enhances performance. Employees having CQ are motivated to work across different cultures and perform better in different situations.
Employees who have three most important component of CQ can get success in this globalized world Trian dis, (2006). It is important for an individual to know his/her strengths so that he/she can easily mold itself in any new culture. CQ focused on the ability to comprehend and behave effectively in diversified culture, therefore, it is a specific form of human intelligence Nafi, (2013). It helps an individual to effectively deal with people from different backgrounds.

CQ Drive

CQ drive means interest and confidence that motivate employees to accept any new culture and effectively perform in that culture. Without CQ drive it is very difficult for employees to successfully accept the culture and behave accordingly. There are two types of CQ drives; intrinsic drive and extrinsic drive. Intrinsic drive gives pleasure and motivation to employees to accept any new culture and employees enjoy working in new culture due to intrinsic drive. On the other hand, the extrinsic drive is the external drive in which people gain benefits from adopting the new culture and from culturally diverse knowledge and experiences.

CQ Knowledge

CQ knowledge means the understanding employees have about different cultures and similarities and differences between two or more cultures. CQ knowledge facilitates employees to easily find out how they can adopt the new culture and the difference between new culture and the previous culture they were in. CQ knowledge helps employees to mingle effectively with people from different cultural backgrounds. CQ helps managers to deal with cross cultural problems and people in a respectful manner. For example, the way a manager delegate tasks to his/her subordinate differ from one organizational culture to another moon, (2010).
Furthermore, CQ is a multidimensional construct, because it focuses on situations involving cross-cultural problems arising when people from different race, nationality, and ethnicity interact with each other Zhao, (2005). CQ knowledge provides information about how an employee behaves when he/she confront new culture. In order to adopt any new culture, an individual must have knowledge, ability, and motivation because without these three basic components of CQ nobody can adjust in the new culture.

CQ Strategy

CQ strategy is the awareness and ability of an individual to plan to adopt the new culture. For CQ strategy it is necessary to have a particular plan about how to adopt the culture and behave in a new culture. Along with culture intelligence, cultural awareness is also very important because it helps to understand the culture. To develop CQ strategy is not simply because it takes both dedication and time. In order to develop CQ strategy, one must have the ability to identify universal behaviors, behaviors that are acceptable around the globe and distinguish other behaviors that are particular to any event or situation. Hence, CQ is the skill that develops and improves continuously with the passage of time Nafei, (2013).

CQ Action

CQ actions are those actions which employees do when they try to adopt the new culture. The actions include language practice, the adaptation of nonverbal behaviors like gestures, facial expressions, and verbal behaviors like the tone and accent Kelly and Meyers (2004). Furthermore, employees who possess CQ tend to be more reactive in adopting the new culture.
Cross Cultural Social Intelligence developed by Earley, Ang, & Tan, (2006) is very effective method to measure CQ. They developed “Cross cultural social intelligence”, which measures employees’ performance who works in cross cultural organizations. This method is the combination of relatively two different theories that are social intelligence and cross-cultural communication. This method focuses on two criteria ethnocentrism and empathy. The results do not address CQ exclusively, in fact, they also represent social intelligence of an individual.
The method of measurement of CQ that has been accepted by many scholars as “Cultural Quotient”. Cultural quotient clearly explains an individual’s ability to behave effectively in different cultures. Ang, et al.(2007). It measures CQ by rating 20 items, four items of metacognitive CQ, five items of motivation, five items of behavior, and six items of cognition. Each item is marked on the basis of the Likert system and the results of each item collectively represent CQ of an individual. Employees who score well on this test are much more successful in working different cultures whereas, employees with the low score are less successful when working in different culture early, and Mosakowski, (2004).

Employees Job Performance

Relationship between Job Performance and Cultural Intelligence
According to Adidam et al., (2009) many types of research have been done to find out the relationship between employee performance and CQ, and it has been identified that there are four factors that link job performance to CQ.

Cognitive CQ: it explains that employees who possess CQ have the better understanding of their jobs and tasks.

Meta-Cognitive CQ: employees having high meta cognitive CQ know how to apply their knowledge and experience in adapting new culture.
Motivational CQ: employees who have motivational CQ perform their tasks with interest, shows high performance, have the ability to motivate others and have the strong locus of control.
Behavioral CQ: employees with high behavioral CQ meet the expectations of others by their nonverbal and verbal behavioral. They have the strong sense of recognition and easily adopt gestures and posture of others.
These four factors show the relationship between employees’ performance and CQ Zhao, (2005). Employees who possess above mentioned four factors tend to easily adjust in any new culture and give the good performance.
A study has been conducted by the international journal of business management, in order to find out the impact of CQ on employee job performance and from the study, it has been revealed that employees have the different attitude towards CQEarley, Ang, & Tan, (2006). Some employees have the interest to know the economic and legal system of other cultures, whereas some do not show any interest in other cultures. It has also revealed that sometimes employee does not completely accept new culture they just follow the norms in order to complete their duties.
Many organizations have removed their barrier and hire individuals across the globe. Extending operations and removing barriers do not only affect financial and business organizations, it also brings changes in social, cultural, scientific, political, and religious entities Lugo, (2007). Extending operations creates the new environment not only within the country but also outside the country. Globalization forces people to accept diversity and adopt changes frequently. Diversity has become a fact of our life and no one can avoid it. Organizations make decisions by keeping in mind that their customers and employees have different cultural backgrounds. Statistics proved that many organizations went bankrupt due to poor understanding of different cultures. In order to survive in today’s competitive world management as well, all employees must have the clear understanding of different cultures and must possess CQ.
In order to overcome problems, employees face when work in different cultures organizations arrange training programs. These programs help them to identify the difference between the existing culture and the new culture in which they are going to work Zhao, (2005). By providing proper training organizations can improve CQ of their but employees but employees should be interested and motivated in improving their CQ.
Organizations who want to improve their performance must pay attention to the performance and CQ of their employees. Performance is a function of skills, knowledge, and capabilities Peterson, (2004). Employees who possess CQ show better performance in different situations. In this regard, only actions and behaviors that are relevant to the organizational objectives and goals are countable in evaluating employee performance early, and Mosakowski, (2004).
Along with CQ, task performance also plays an important role in the evaluation of employee performance Koen, (2005). Some employees perform the only specific task better while some multi talented employees are good at different tasks. Shifting employees from one task to another increase their ability to perform different tasks and also improves their CQ.
Thomas and Inkson (2005) explain CQ as skills people possess to adjust in the global workplace. CQ is an ability to understand and manage the relationship with people from different backgrounds and work effectively with them. Some people have innate ability to easily adopt new things and can better perform in the cross-cultural environment.
Additionally, after 2006 empirical types of research on cultural intelligence across different areas was triggered and became an important issue among management studies Gornji, and Ghareseflo, (2011). A paper was published on cultural intelligence in 2007, and according to the paper employees having cultural intelligence are more talented than employees who are rigid. This paper also explained the importance of CQ for managers Gornji, and Ghareseflo, (2011). It is very important for a manager to have CQ because he is the one who is responsible to lead his team. Therefore, CQ has become an involving study for evaluating job performance.
In addition to CQ studies also focused on organizational perspective. Cultural intelligence can be explained on organizational perspective. Organizational cultural intelligence is the capability of an organization to function and manage successfully in the host diversified culture Koen, (2005). Organizational cultural intelligence reflects how responsive organizations are and how they work in the cross-cultural environment. Organization CQ helps firms to effectively adjust in the diversified environment and achieve organizational goals.
Based on different theories of cultural intelligence, irrespective of their focus on domestic culture or multinational cultural perspectives relating to diversity in companies; research suggests that cultural intelligence and be developed or learned through education, training, interaction, and experience Lasserre, & Schutte, (2006). Furthermore, research findings also show that higher level of cultural intelligence can be achieved by working on different cultures. Therefore, employees can improve CQ by proper learning and exposure to different culture.
Furthermore, motivation is the important factor for improving CQ because the role of motivation in improving CQ involves personal and cultural values of employees Mol, Tulder, & Beije, (2005). Personal and cultural values establish the general benchmark for employees to access their perceived desirability of different outcomes and actions. Efficacy and expectation also play their role by providing the ability to set individual goals and achieve those goals. Therefore, motivational element serves as the key driver that influences employees to adopt a new culture and learn new skills.

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