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International Business and Intercultural Communication


In an interconnected global economy, there is a vital need for understanding between professionals from different cultures. Effective intercultural communication in business settings helps create a sense of shared experience between people of diverse cultural, national, ethnic, social, religious and educational backgrounds.

Studying in business schools promotes positive, productive communication and cooperation between people. Working professionals with this training can conduct themselves in diverse environments with tact and diplomacy. Cultural competence training is as essential to the future of multinational organizations as it is to your career.

Business school offers professionals the opportunity to develop intercultural communication skills without the risks of trial and error on the job. The Northwest Missouri State University (NWMSU) Master of Business Administration (MBA) General online program provides these opportunities throughout the curriculum using interactive experiences within a highly diverse student and faculty population.

Why Intercultural Communication Is So Important

Experience in this discipline enables professionals to interact responsibly and respectfully and be aware of others' differences. Without this experience, misunderstandings can arise between people as the differences in values and norms of different backgrounds collide.

Learning these skills can help you in your career and your organization. In routine phone calls, email communications, virtual settings and face-to-face meetings, these skills can turn challenges into opportunities. Intercultural communication skills can help you foster strong client relationships, improve internal team communication and even attract and retain top talent.

When strong skills create synergy between colleagues and business associates, we see the impacts in greater employee teamwork, efficiency and productivity. Over time, positive intercultural experiences among an organization's employees and outside stakeholders provide the impetus for growth and global expansion. Conversely, businesses without strong intercultural communicators in leadership are often stymied by the challenges of intercultural communication.

Consider how this can manifest in industries with strong worldview differences among professionals from different cultures who must collaborate. Unsuccessful mergers, disastrous negotiations and the inability to establish uniform company policies across geographic boundaries are common failures. The following are some common challenges that an advanced business degree can potentially help prepare graduates to navigate in a multicultural world.

Intercultural Communication Challenges and Solutions

With intercultural training, practice and commitment, you can become an indispensable member of an intercultural team or organization. Here are some of the challenges and solutions you may encounter in NWMSU's MBA General online program:

Ethnocentrism: This is the tendency individuals have to evaluate other cultures according to the norms and values of their own. By studying the customs, languages and standards of the regions of others you may work with, you can approach relationships with an open mindset.

Cultural frames: Culture is the lens through which all humans see and interpret their surroundings and circumstances. Intercultural communication training provides an opportunity to remove this lens and see how cultural frames can be limiting in intercultural contexts. This insight helps reduce some of the social anxiety and tension that people without training often feel in diverse business settings.

Assuming similarities: A lack of cultural competence training can cause people to assume others' cultures, values and lifestyles are like their own. MBA training provides exposure to the cues that signal when heightened sensitivity to cultural differences is necessary, helping bring awareness to the differences that people of varied backgrounds bring to a business.

Verbal and nonverbal language barriers: Even when individuals learn a foreign language, there are nuances and nonverbal behaviors that native speakers understand that can be difficult to discern for a non-native speaker. Facial expressions, gestures and body positions can communicate entirely different ideas to people of diverse backgrounds. Business degrees help you understand how and when to educate yourself on communicating with people with different backgrounds and how to properly interpret what you observe. Of course, there will always be uncertainty, and various interactions provide experience on how to be respectful and to confidently communicate through potential confusion and misunderstandings.

Though there are many barriers to effective intercultural communications, companies can overcome the aforementioned through research, study and experience. If you would like the opportunity to engage with an outstanding group of professionals with a variety of experiences, consider investing in an MBA degree as your next career move.

Learn more about Northwest Missouri State University's online Master of Business Administration General program.


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