Intercultural communication competence in retrospect: Who would have guessed?by Brent D. Ruben

International Journal of Intercultural Relations

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Year
2015
DOI
10.1016/j.ijintrel.2015.03.010
Subject
Business and International Management / Sociology and Political Science / Social Psychology

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International Journal of Intercultural Relations (2015), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijintrel.2015.03.010 ltural communication competence in retrospect: ould have guessed?

Ruben ∗ nizational Development and Leadership, Rutgers University, ASB II, 57 Route 1, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, USA a c t e work on intercultural communication competence reflected a wide array of definitions and methodologies. In the years since uced the impact concept has been substantial. First, the ICC conceptualization provided a linkage between interpersonal comnd intercultural communication. Second, the ICC concept contributed to the shift away from linear, information-transmission munication, in favor of transactional, constructivist perspectives on the process—perspectives that emphasized meaning and nal dynamics, rather than solely messages and media. Third, attention to ICC made it clear that intercultural knowledge entions—without the appropriate behaviors—often lead to other-than-intended outcomes. Conversely, a culturally defined out more general knowledge, may result in outcomes that are only appropriate in particular cultural settings. Fourth, while l” began as a somewhat limited concept referring to interactions between individuals from differing national backgrounds, of “culture” gradually expanded to regional, ethnic, organizational, occupational, and relational entities. Scholars of the day led then to recognize the importance of the concept. Nonetheless, the competence concept envisioned in our earliest work uential in into writings in many areas, including relationships, organizations, healthcare, leadership and other areas (Ruben,

One can only imagine how the concepts of intercultural, communication, and competence will evolve and influence the shape olarship and practice within communication and other social science endeavors in the years ahead. © 2015 Published by Elsevier Ltd. e special issue of the International Journal of Intercultural Relations (IJIR) was published in 1989, who could have ow important a topic “intercultural communication competence” would become? In the intervening 25 years, ICC the foundation for significant research programs, a focal issue of countless academic and practitioner-oriented rticles, and a core element in intercultural courses and workshops. What is perhaps even more remarkable is the uent elements of ICC—intercultural, communication, and competence—have evolved and increased in significance. ative work on ICC reflected a wide array of definitions and methodologies. Amidst that diversity, however, were help to explain the substantial influence of that early scholarship. First, the ICC conceptualization provided a een interpersonal communication and intercultural communication. Prior to that period, many communication nceptualized cross-cultural communication in terms of international and media studies, emphasizing crossnd cross-national message flows and their consequences. The emerging concept of ICC shifted attention to facemunication, thereby creating a strong and necessary complement to work centered on media and message his meant that scholarship in interpersonal communication, as well as in psychology, could be applied toward rstanding inter/cross-cultural processes; that breakthrough also helped to enrich interdisciplinary connections mmunication and other social science fields. 8 932 3968. ress: bruben@rutgers.edu rg/10.1016/j.ijintrel.2015.03.010 2015 Published by Elsevier Ltd.

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ARTICLE IN PRESSG ModelIJIR-1112; No. of Pages 2 2 B.D. Ruben / International Journal of Intercultural Relations xxx (2015) xxx–xxx

Second, the dynamic nature of the ICC concept contributed to the shift away from linear, information-transmission views of communication, in favor of transactional, constructivist perspectives on the process—perspectives that emphasized meaning and interpretational dynamics, rather than solely messages and media.

Third, ICC, and particularly the “competence” concept, pointed to the need to distinguish between knowledge and behavior. Attention to ICC made it clear that intercultural knowledge and good intentions—without the appropriate behaviors—often lead to other-than-intended outcomes. Conversely, a culturally defined skill set, without more general knowledge, may result in outcomes that are only appropriate in particular cultural settings. For this reason, studies of competence that focus solely of self-reported knowledge or intentions—without attention to behavior—are unlikely to be successful in predicting ICC effectiveness in field situations (Ruben, 1989; Ruben & Kealey, 1979). More generally, ICC scholarship helped to clarify the notion that there is a predictable disconnect between one’s knowledge, understanding, or intention and how one translates them behaviorally. This recognition continues to have fundamental implications for communication theory, research, and practice, as it does also for the behavioral and social sciences.