Culture matters: How to develop intercultural competency in New Zealand organisations

Shireen Chua1

1 Third Culture Solutions Ltd, 39 Hendry Avenue, Hillsborough, Auckland 1042,

Globalisation has lead to our workplaces, universities, neighbourhoods to become increasingly ethnically and racially diverse in Aoteroa, New Zealand.  This diversity will bring increased challenges in understanding one other, building trust and working together.  However, it will also bring many opportunities.  Harnessed diversity increases creativity and innovation.

Intercultural competency is becoming an essential skill and competency not only for students and graduates but in all facets of interaction and relationship building.  Work teams are now becoming diverse.  In order to work well together, managers and team members need to understand each other, and thrive.  For those seeking to market their product, service and organisation internationally, understanding how their potential customer will interpret their information and communication will be critical to any potential deal.  Those being seconded for expatriate assignment also require training to negotiate cultures.  Cultural Intelligence is intercultural competency applied to a wider context, encompassing all aspects of culture that includes organisational culture.

This presentation will report on the research findings of a business research project undertaken as part of the author’s MBA study in 2015.  Through a comprehensive literature review and a small number of semi-structured interviews of several managers of New Zealand organisations, this report identifies the themes from the interview and the current research evidence to answer the research question of how New Zealand organisations can develop intercultural competency within their organisations.  The findings of this research has a wide range of applications both for New Zealand organisations addressing the diversity within their organisations, but also in all aspects of the business of running the organisation, from marketing, business development to HR.  The findings of this will be particularly relevant in New Zealand’s billion dollar International Education market, where this competency will be critical in the marketing of New Zealand’s Education Sector, the orientation and pastoral care needs of international students, as well as organisations that have any interaction whether it is teaching, hosting students or handling the administrative aspects in this sector.

Key Words: Cross Cultural Competency, Intercultural Competency Training, Cultural Intelligence, Diversity Training, Globalisation, Organisational Cultural Intelligence


Shireen Chua is the Director of Third Culture Solutions Ltd.  Through her background in research and management of multicultural themes, she completed a research project in her MBA in looking at organisational intercultural competency and specifically culturally intelligent solutions.  She has a training and consulting business that looks to address the diversity with fit-for-purpose solutions.  She is a certified Advanced Cultural Intelligence (CQ) trainer.  She has facilitated workshops for small and large organisations in the area of intercultural competency and cultural intelligence.