Discovery Magazine

Measuring Cross Cultural Competence (3C) in a Military Setting

The Institute for Cross Cultural Management was contracted by the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute to evaluate the 2011 Defense Language Office Framework for Cross-Cultural Competence, and to develop new measures of 3C. A Cross-Cultural Competence Source Materials Database (3CDB) was developed as an integral part of the contract to support the review of existing instrumentation for assessing cross-cultural competence.

The 3CDB was designed to provide a searchable resource for the large, diverse body of literature in the area of cross-cultural competence. Although it duplicates the function of larger bibliographic sources, such as PsycLit and PsycInfo, entries for the source materials in the 3CDB are annotated on a set of variables that allow for searches that cannot be performed easily in general purpose databases. Currently, about 300 articles are online and additional ones are uploaded regularly, keeping the database up to date with the most recent work in the field.

The Department of Defense’s goal of increasing the cross-cultural competency of military and civilian personnel is based primarily on the availability of valid measurement of 3C and its antecedents. High quality measurement of cross-cultural competence is important for selection and training. Initial research funded under this contract found that most of the currently available instruments in this field are either of poor or unknown validity and are not appropriate for assessing the competencies that are fundamental to the military models of cross-cultural competence (Gabrenya, Moukarzel, Pomerance, Griffith, & Deaton, 2012). Instead, such competencies are best measured using traditional assessment center methods.

Given the resources required to operate assessment centers, this report suggests the adoption of “mini assessment centers” utilizing dynamic measurement. These “mini assessment centers would simulate some qualities of the dynamic nature of an assessment center situation, such as time constraints, varying stressors, distraction and multitasking. In addition, considering that experiences in novel cultural contexts are highly affective and affective responses may occur outside the awareness of the individual, researchers at the Institute suggest the utility of using a measure of implicit affect.

Results of this preliminary investigation demonstrated that cross-cultural competence was best predicted by one’s psychological adjustment and emotion regulation. Specifically, individuals who use reappraisal strategies for regulating their emotions performed better in novel cultural contexts.