How to Improve Communication within an Organization? The Relationship between Cultural Intelligence and Language Competence

  • 1 University of Finance and Administration, Department of Economics and Management, Prague
  • 2 University of Finance and Administration, Department of Languages Prague


Objective: This article deals with the effective functioning of an organization in the international context. It focuses on the two key aspects of the communication in this respects: cultural intelligence (CQ), the capacity to operate successfully in the multicultural setting, and the quality of internal communication; it is investigated whether CQ (and its components: metacognitive, cognitive, motivational and behavioural) are rather related to the number of foreign languages or the language proficiency a person (or an employee) knows (has).

Methodology: The sample of 132 undergraduate students of the English and Czech study programs at one private business university in the Czech Republic was used. The Spearman correlation coefficient, Chi–Square test for independence and the one–way ANOVA test (all of them conducted in the statistical program IBM SPSS Statistics 21) are calculated in the paper.

Findings: CQ depends on the quality (the level of proficiency) rather than the quantity (the number) of foreign language skills. This conclusion applies regardless of gender: our data did not confirm that language skills were gender-dependent.

Value Added: Recently a very fashionable cultural intelligence (CQ) construct has been explored in relation to a variety of variables and outputs. Nevertheless, insufficient attention has been given to the relationship between cultural intelligence and language competence so far; moreover, the research has brought contradictory results up to now. This study fills the actual knowledge gap.

Recommendations: It is shown that in terms of the effective functioning in a culturally unknown environment and with a restricted time to learn foreign languages, it is preferable to develop continuously one´s skills in lingua franca than parallel and more superficial studies of several languages.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Adair, W. L., Hideg, I., & Spence, J. R. (2013). The Culturally Intelligent Team: The Impact of Team Cultural Intelligence and Cultural Heterogeneity on Team Shared Values. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 44(6), 941–962.

  • Afsar, B., Shahjehan, A., Shah, S. I., & Wajid, A. (2019). The mediating role of transformational leadership in the relationship between cultural intelligence and employee voice behavior: A case of hotel employees. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 69, 66–75.

  • Ang, S., Rockstuhl, T., & Tan, M. L. (2015). Cultural intelligence and competencies. International Encyclopedia of Social & Behavioral Sciences, 433–439.

  • Ang, S., & Van Dyne, L. (2015). Conceptualization of cultural intelligence: Definition, distinctiveness, and nomological network. In Handbook of cultural intelligence (pp. 21–33). Routledge.

  • Ang, S., Van Dyne, L., Koh, C., Ng, K. Y., Templer, K. J., Tay, C., & Chandrasekar, N. A. (2007). Cultural intelligence: Its measurement and effects on cultural judgment and decision making, cultural adaptation and task performance. Management and Organization Review, 3(3), 335–371.

  • Barner-Rasmussen, W., & Björkman, I. (2007). Language fluency, socialization and inter-unit relationships in Chinese and Finnish subsidiaries. Management and Organization Review, 3(1), 105–128.

  • Beyene, T. (2007).Fluency as stigma: Implications of a language mandate in global work. PhD Thesis, Stanford University.

  • Brannen, M. Y., Piekkari, R., & Tietze, S. (2017). The multifaceted role of language in international business: Unpacking the forms, functions and features of a critical challenge to MNC theory and performance. In Language in international business (pp. 139–162). Springer.

  • Browaeys, M.-J., & Price, R. (2015).Understanding Cross-Cultural Management 3rd Ed: Vol. Third edition. Pearson.

  • Che Rose, R., Sri Ramalu, S., Uli, J., & Kumar, N. (2010). Expatriate performance in international assignments: The role of cultural intelligence as dynamic intercultural competency. International Journal of Business and Management, 5(8), 76–85.

  • Cohen, J. (1988).Statistical power analysis for the behaviors science (2nd). New Jersey: Laurence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers, Hillsdale.

  • Cramer, T. (2018). The cultural awareness and cognitive cultural intelligence of Chinese undergraduate business students. International Journal of Interdisciplinary Cultural Studies, 13(4), 1–11. Scopus.

  • Crowne, K. A. (2008). What leads to cultural intelligence?. Business Horizons, 51(5), 391–399.

  • Dabić, M., González-Loureiro, M., & Harvey, M. (2015). Evolving research on expatriates: What is’ known’after four decades (1970–2012). International Journal of Human Resource Management, 26(3), 316–337.

  • Detterman, D. K., & Sternberg, R. J. (1986).What is intelligence?: Contemporary viewpoints on its nature and definition. Ablex.

  • Division, C. of E. C. for C. C. E. C. M. L. (2001).Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, teaching, assessment. Cambridge University Press.

  • Du-Babcock, B. (2018). Business communication research and theory development in Asia: Past, present, and future prospects. Business Communication Research and Practice, 1(1), 4–17.

  • Earley, P. C., & Ang, S. (2003).Cultural intelligence: Individual interactions across cultures. Stanford University Press.

  • Earley, P. C., Ang, S., & Tan, J.-S. (2006).CQ: Developing cultural intelligence at work. Stanford University Press.

  • Elenkov, D. S., & Manev, I. M. (2009). Senior expatriate leadership’s effects on innovation and the role of cultural intelligence. Journal of World Business, 44(4), 357–369.

  • Engle, R. L., & Crowne, K. A. (2014). The impact of international experience on cultural intelligence: An application of contact theory in a structured short-term programme. Human Resource Development International, 17(1), 30–46.

  • Froese, F. J., Kim, K., & Eng, A. (2016). Language, Cultural Intelligence, and Inpatriate Turnover Intentions: Leveraging Values in Multinational Corporations through Inpatriates. Management International Review, 56(2), 283–301.

  • Ghonsooly, B., Sharififar, M., Sistani, S. R., & Ghahari, S. (2013). Cultural Intelligence in Foreign Language Learning Contexts. Cultus, 47.

  • Groves, K. S., & Feyerherm, A. E. (2011). Leader Cultural Intelligence in Context: Testing the Moderating Effects of Team Cultural Diversity on Leader and Team Performance. Group & Organization Management, 36(5), 535–566.

  • Harrison, N. (2012). Investigating the impact of personality and early life experiences on intercultural interaction in internationalised universities. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 36(2), 224–237.

  • Holt, K., & Seki, K. (2012). Global leadership: A developmental shift for everyone. Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 5(2), 196–215.

  • Huff, K. C. (2013). Language, cultural intelligence and expatriate success. Management Research Review: MRN; 36(6), 596–612. Patrington.

  • Imai, L., & Gelfand, M. J. (2010). The culturally intelligent negotiator: The impact of cultural intelligence (CQ) on negotiation sequences and outcomes. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes. 112(2). New York.

  • Jiang, M., Green, R. J., Henley, T. B., & Masten, W. G. (2009). Acculturation in Relation to the Acquisition of a Second Language. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 30(6), 481–492.

  • Johnson, J. P., Lenartowicz, T., & Apud, S. (2006). Cross-cultural competence in international business: Toward a definition and a model. Journal of International Business Studies, 37(4), 525–543.

  • Kankaanranta, A., Karhunen, P., & Louhiala-Salminen, L. (2018). “English as corporate language” in the multilingual reality of multinational companies. Multilingua, 37(4), 331–351.

  • Khodadady, E., & Ghahari, S. (2012). Exploring the relationship between foreign language proficiency and cultural intelligence. International Journal of Language Learning and Applied Linguistics World, 1(1), 22–31.

  • Kim, K., Kirkman, B. L., & Chen, G. (2008). Cultural intelligence and international assignment effectiveness. In Handbook of Cultural Intelligence: Theory, Measurement, and Applications (pp. 71–90), ed. S. Ang, L. Van Dyne. Routledge.

  • Komori-Glatz, M. (2018). Conceptualising English as a business lingua franca. European Journal of International Management, 12(1–2), 46–61.

  • Kurpis, L. H., & Hunter, J. (2017). Developing Students’ Cultural Intelligence Through an Experiential Learning Activity: A Cross-Cultural Consumer Behavior Interview. Journal of Marketing Education, 39(1), 30–46.

  • Lauring, J. (2008). Rethinking social identity theory in international encounters: Language use as a negotiated object for identity making. International Journal of Cross Cultural Management, 8(3), 343–361.

  • Lee, L.-Y., & Sukoco, B. M. (2010). The effects of cultural intelligence on expatriate performance: The moderating effects of international experience. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 21(7), 963–981.

  • Leung, K., Ang, S., & Tan, M. L. (2014). Intercultural competence. The Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior, 1(1), 489–519.

  • Malek, M., & Budhwar, P. (2012). Cultural intelligence as a predictor of expatriate adjustment and performance in Malaysia. Journal of world business, 48(2), 222–231.

  • Marcum, J. (2017).Language Proficiency and Cultural Intelligence in Distance English-Language Learning. All Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 6691.

  • Mesiti, R. A. (2011).Foreign language professors’ reports of the teaching practices they deliberately use to develop students’ cultural intelligence. Ed.D., University of Hartford.

  • Moon, H. K., Choi, B. K., & Jung, J. S. (2012). Previous international experience, cross-cultural training, and expatriates’ cross-cultural adjustment: Effects of cultural intelligence and goal orientation. Human Resource Development Quarterly, 23(3), 285–330.

  • Morrell, D. L., Ravlin, E. C., Ramsey, J. R., & Ward, A.-K. (2013). Past Experience, Cultural Intelligence, and Satisfaction With International Business Studies. Journal of Teaching in International Business, 24(1). New York.

  • Nekvapil, J., Dovalil, V., Sherman, T., Sloboda, M., & Vasiljev, I. (2008). LINEE: Sociolingvistickỳ projekt 6. Rámcového programu EU: Jak funguje a jaké jsou zkušenosti s tzv. Network of excellence. Jazykovědné Aktuality, 45, 111–131.

  • Nekvapil, J., & Nekula, M. (2006). K jazykové situaci v nadnárodních podnicích p\ uusobících v České republice. Slovo a Slovesnost, 67(2), 83–96.

  • Nickerson, C., & Planken, B. (2015).Introducing Business English. Routledge.

  • Paige, R. M. (2004). Instrumentation in intercultural training. Handbook of Intercultural Training, 3, 85–128.

  • Peterson, R. A., & Merunka, D. R. (2014). Convenience samples of college students and research reproducibility. Journal of Business Research, 67(5), 1035-1041.

  • Presbitero, A. (2017). It’s not all about language ability: Motivational cultural intelligence matters in call center performance. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 28(11), 1547–1562.

  • Prŭcha, J. (2010).Interkulturní komunikace. Grada Publishing as.

  • Rachmawaty, N., Wello, M. B., Akil, M., & Dollah, S. (2018). Do Cultural Intelligence and Language Learning Strategies Influence Students’ English Language Proficiency?. Journal of Language Teaching and Research, 9(3), 655–663. London.

  • Rafieyan, V., Golerazeghi, H., & Orang, M. (2015). Relationship between Cultural Intelligence and Pragmatic Comprehension. Journal of Language Teaching and Research, 6(3), 560–565. London.

  • Rafieyan, V., Sharafi-Nejad, M., Khavari, Z., Damavand, A., & Eng, L. S. (2014). Relationship between Cultural Distance and Pragmatic Comprehension. English Language Teaching, 7(2), 103–109.

  • Remhof, S., Gunkel, M., & Schlaegel, C. (2014). Goodbye Germany! The influence of personality and cognitive factors on the intention to work abroad. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 25(16), 2319–2343.

  • Sanden, G. R. (2015). Corporate language policies–what are they. Journal of Economics, Business and Management, 3(11), 1097–1101. DOI: 10.7763/JOEBM.2015.V3.341.

  • Sargent, J., & Matthews, L. (1998). Expatriate reduction and Mariachi circles: Trends in MNC human-resource practices in Mexico. International Studies of Management & Organization, 28(2), 74–96.

  • Schwartz, S. J., Benet-Martínez, V., Knight, G. P., Unger, J. B., Zamboanga, B. L., Des Rosiers, S. E., Stephens, D. P., Huang, S., & Szapocznik, J. (2014). Effects of language of assessment on the measurement of acculturation: Measurement equivalence and cultural frame switching. Psychological Assessment, 26(1), 100–114.

  • Selmer, J. (2006). Language ability and adjustment: Western expatriates in China. Thunderbird International Business Review, 48(3), 347–368. DOI: 10.1002/tie.

  • Selmer, J., & Lauring, J. (2015). Host country language ability and expatriate adjustment: The moderating effect of language difficulty. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 26(3), 401–420.

  • Sharma, R. R. (2019). Cultural Intelligence and Institutional Success: The Mediating Role of Relationship Quality. Journal of International Management, 25(3), 100665.

  • Soldatova, G., & Geer, M. (2013). “Glocal” Identity, Cultural Intelligence and Language Fluency. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 86, 469–474.

  • Terauchi, H., Noguchi, J., & Tajino, A. (2019).Towards a New Paradigm for English Language Teaching: English for Specific Purposes in Asia and Beyond. Routledge.

  • Thomas, D. C., & Peterson, M. F. (2017).Cross-cultural management: Essential concepts. Sage Publications.

  • Triandis, H. C. (2006). Cultural intelligence in organizations. Group & Organization Management, 31(1), 20–26.

  • Urnaut, A. G. (2014). Education for Successful Intercultural Communication and Cultural Intelligence. Journal of Economic and Social Development, 1(1), 63–73, Varazdin.

  • Van Der Slik, F. W., Van Hout, R. W., & Schepens, J. J. (2015). The gender gap in second language acquisition: Gender differences in the acquisition of Dutch among immigrants from 88 countries with 49 mother tongues. PloS One, 10(11), e0142056. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0142056.

  • Van Dyne, L., Ang, S., Ng, K. Y., Rockstuhl, T., Tan, M. L., & Koh, C. (2012). Sub-dimensions of the four factor model of cultural intelligence: Expanding the conceptualization and measurement of cultural intelligence. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 6(4), 295–313.

  • Vlajcic, D., Caputo, A., Marzi, G., & Dabic, M. (2019). Expatriates managers’ cultural intelligence as promoter of knowledge transfer in multinational companies. Journal of Business Research, 94, 367–377.

  • Wang, L., Wang, K. T., Heppner, P. P., & Chuang, C.-C. (2017). Cross-National Cultural Competency Among Taiwanese International Students. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, 10(3), 271–287.

  • Welch, D. E., & Welch, L. S. (2008). The importance of language in international knowledge transfer. Management International Review, 48(3), 339–360.

  • Yitmen, I. (2013). Organizational Cultural Intelligence: A Competitive Capability for Strategic Alliances in the International Construction Industry. Project Management Journal, 44(4), 5–25.


Journal + Issues