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Intercultural competencies needed by global CEOs

The world of international business has changed dramatically in the past two decades, shifting from being the exclusive realm of giant multinational corporations to a wide-open marketplace for companies of all sizes and stages of maturity. Although there is growing recognition that Chief Executive Officers need international experience, little is known about which intercultural competencies are needed at the top. Most of the research in the field has been focused either further down the management chain, on expatriate managers, or outside the business world, on international students. Both these groups are well-researched due to the relative ease of gaining access to subjects. Accessing CEOs and other business elites is considerably more challenging, which may explain the dearth of academic research at the top level of business. This research aimed to fill that gap by exploring the strategic-level intercultural challenges faced by companies doing business internationally and by identifying the intercultural competencies needed by CEOs. The study utilised an emergent approach, following on from an earlier pilot study. It included in-depth interviews with 28 global CEOs spanning 12 countries, leading companies ranging in size from fewer than 10 to more than 200,000 employees. The data was analysed utilising a “constructivist grounded theory” approach. The study concluded that intercultural competencies of CEOs have a potential impact in several key areas, including: decision-making; hiring; managing the top executive team; conflict and negotiation; working with partners and vendors; and market entry. Five intercultural competencies were identified as important at the CEO level: Cultural Self-Awareness; Cultural Sensory Perception; Open-mindedness; Global Perspective; and Adaptability. The study also discovered patterns of CEO behaviour in response to failure in intercultural interactions, which may impact the time and cost required to achieve objectives in foreign markets. Finally, the study found evidence of effective methods for developing the required competencies.
Date January 2014
CreatorsGibson, Barbara
PublisherBirkbeck (University of London)
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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