Saturday, December 27, 2014

Book Review: "The Cultural Intelligence Difference"

This week I’ve been reading a book by David Livermore entitled, The Cultural Intelligence Difference (New York: American Management Association, 2011). Cultural intelligence (CQ for short) is "the capability to function effectively across a variety of cultural contexts, such as ethnic, governmental, and organizational cultures” (5). CQ is comprised of four different capabilities, and this is what sets it apart from "cultural sensitivity" approaches. 

First, there is CQ Drive (motivation). This is one's "interest and confidence in functioning effectively in culturally diverse settings" (6). While organizations often send employees and representatives to sensitivity trainings, they often ignore the fundamental issue of desire. This means that most people go through the trainings because they have to, but they in fact have little desire to encounter, learn, and successfully interact with people different than themselves. Therefore, to increase CQ, one must address the fundamental issue of drive. 

Second, there is CQ Knowledge (cognition). This is one's "knowledge about how cultures are similar and different" from one's own (7). Most sensitivity training begins and ends here under the assumption that knowing the unique facets of a given culture will sufficiently prepare one for interacting with that culture. But while knowledge is an indispensable part of the equation, it must be set in a larger context of capabilities. 

Third, there is CQ Strategy (meta-cognition). This is one's ability to "make sense of culturally diverse experiences" (7). In other words, it's one's ability to apply knowledge to actual situations and to develop plans for successfully interacting with diverse people. 

Fourth, there is CQ Action (behavior). This is one's "capability to adapt your behavior appropriately for different cultures" (7). All the training and growth in the world is meaningless without wise application, and as it is with drive, this aspect of cultural interaction is often assumed. However, in order to have successful and fruitful cultural interactions, one must give direct thought to the application of knowledge via specific behaviors. 

The first two chapters of the book lay out these basics, and then demonstrate the scientific validity of this approach. With this as a basis, Livermore then encourages his readers to take a Cultural Intelligence Self-Assessment (on-line) which helps readers get the most out of the rest of the book. Reason being, the rest of the book presents numerous practical strategies for increasing one's CQ by improving drive, knowledge, strategy, and action. 

I found the test to be accurate, and the practical strategies to be useful. I plan to follow Livermore's action plan over the next several months and thus I look forward to improving my ability to relate with people of various cultural backgrounds and to increasing my joy as I see and value the image of God in  them. 

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