Margaret A Nolan, Raghu Kurthakoti



As pressure increases for business schools to prepare students for entry into the workplace, career readiness is expected to be a critical component of the educational process (Williams, Green & Diel, 2017). The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) requires business schools to prepare students for the challenges faced by global economies, as part of the accreditation process (AACSB, Standard 9). Graduates from business programs need the knowledge, skills and abilities to perform effectively in intercultural and international environments (Mikhaylov, 2014).

The landscape of business is also changing. Organizations and their employees must think globally if they want to sustain themselves. A recent survey of potential employers for the Association of American Colleges and Universities by Hart Associates (2013) indicated that nearly 95% of the respondents acknowledged that intercultural skills play an important role in hiring decisions. There is an increasing need for managers to develop cross-cultural skills to be effective business professionals (Kurpis & Hunter, 2016). Organizations are finding the value in managers who are able to adapt to all different types of cultures and people (Clawson, 2014). Many employers would agree that business students who have had global experience tend to be more adaptable to change, and understand the complexities associated with working in a global work environment. Such confidence can lead to success when faced with obstacles, failures, or setbacks working in multi-cultural environments (Earley & Mosakowski, 2004). According to Ahn & Ettner (2013), an individual’s ability to function in culturally diverse environments is an indicator of leadership potential and management ability.

Preparing students to face the challenges of globalization when entering the business world has become a responsibility of business schools. This is leading business schools to adapt their programs to incorporate the development of students' cultural intelligence into their curriculum. As the expectation for business students to be culturally intelligent continually increases, there is a growing need for cross-cultural education to prepare students for a multi-cultural and complex world (MacNab, 2012).  Kolb’s model on experiential learning describes the four processes and the skill development associated with each process. Our overall objective is to identify the processes involved and skill development that different pedagogies can impart to students thereby enhancing various components of cultural intelligence like attitude, motivation, cognition and behavior (Kumar & Bhandarker, 2017), and the role that experiential learning plays in developing these competencies in business students.

Our Study

Nolan & Kurthakoti (2017) conducted an exploratory study that looked at the differential impact of pedagogy on students' cultural intelligence (CQ) in higher education. Results from their study indicate that experiential learning resulted in improved cultural intelligence. Our study is aimed to extend the findings of Nolan & Kurthakoti (2017) in meaningful ways. First, our study aims to employ a more elaborate assessment of the CQ dimensions using the Cultural Intelligence Scale (Van Dyne, Ang &Koh, 2008). Second, our study uses personal characteristics and predispositions as control variables to isolate the true effect of pedagogy on CQ. Our study will use variables like prior international travel, ethnocentrism, personality traits ("Big 5"), in addition to various demographic variables. Third, our study plans to employ a wider variety of pedagogical approaches in assessing their impact on cultural intelligence (Short- and long-term study abroad, lecture, experiential learning, etc.).


Next Steps

Currently, we have gathered data from one pedagogical approach, and are in the process of analyzing this data. We plan to extend the data collection to other pedagogical approaches by late Fall/early Spring. We plan to discuss our preliminary findings at the ABSEL Conference in Seattle in 2018.


Experiential Learning, Pedagogy, Cultural Intelligence

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