An international business expert has called on practitioners in procurement and supply chain jobs to develop their ‘cultural intelligence drive’ to help their businesses grow in different cultures and further their careers. Cross-cultural business consultant, Tom Verghese, defines cultural intelligence (CQ) as: “the capability to work effectively in culturally diverse situations.”

CQ has four components. Knowledge – understanding similarities and differences between one’s own values, norms, and practices and those of other cultures. Drive – a genuine desire to adapt to a multicultural context. Strategy – the ability to plan for multicultural interactions using CQ knowledge. Action – adapting in cross-cultural contexts to smooth out disagreements or misunderstandings.

In a recent article, Verghese elaborates on CQ Drive. This component of CQ, he explains, has three strands: ‘Intrinsic drive’ (a genuine interest in different cultures), ‘Extrinsic drive’ (a desire to gain experience in interacting across cultures to enhance professional capabilities and credentials), and ‘Self efficacy’ (interpreting unfamiliar cues intelligently in intercultural interactions to clarify and avoid misunderstanding).

To help practitioners understand these elements, whether they are permanent staff or procurement or supply chain interims, Verghese illustrates them by citing his work with a German scientist from a German biopharmaceutical company who was on a one-year assignment in Australia to find ways for his company to operate optimally there. The scientist demonstrated strong aptitudes in each of the three ‘CQ Drive’ components:

  • He genuinely wanted to help his company grow in Australia and was motivated to gain experience of the new culture, i.e., he showed high intrinsic drive.
  • He also hoped the experience would advance his career by securing more recognition and opening the doors to future promotion, i.e., he had a strong extrinsic drive.
  • Finally, he overcame an initial sense of loneliness on arrival in his company-provided Melbourne apartment by registering at a Youth Hostel, so that he could meet other travellers with more experience of Australia and expand his friendship and cultural knowledge circle, i.e., he showed high self-efficacy.

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