Intercultural management and multi-disciplinary approaches

Jurgen Bolten devotes a whole chapter of his introductory book Einfuhrung in die Interkulturelle Wirtschafstkommunikation [Introduction to Intercultural Business Communication] to intercultural business communication as a sub-field of economics and business administration (Bolten 2007: 258-263). It was only in the 1980s that researchers began to look into “soft” factors of international business activities. Articles emerged on cross-cultural management in various countries, as well as international management. Then, in the 1990s the failure of political and economic shock therapies made it clear that market economy models and principles of operational organisation “are not transferable from culture A to culture B” (Bolten 2007: 260). The resultant move from research approaches that compare cultures to genuinely intercultural approaches also acknowledged that interactions between cultures A and B permanently “generate interaction scenarios C”. This “synergetic third party” or this “interculture” is an interaction, an event, in which negotiation processes take place. Against this background, “intercultural management as social action” developed interdependently with the communication, educationanal and behavioural sciences, as well as psychology (Apfelthaler 1998, Hasenstab 1999 according to Bolten 2007: 260).

Realisation of the need for multi-disciplinary approaches to the complex reality of intercultural (business) communication has been reflected in their spread. A good example of such an approach is the volume Intercultural Interaction by Helen Spencer-Oatey and Peter Franklin, which conceptualises intercultural interaction in its first, descriptive section, the second, prescriptive section being devoted to promoting competence in intercultural interaction (Spencer-Oatey and Franklin 2009). The increasing attention paid to language as a fundamental resource, now even in the economic sciences, is evidence of the linguistic turn observable for some time already in the historical sciences, sociology and medicine (cf. Stahl and Menz 2014: VI, as well as Chapter 24 on corpora).

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