An Introduction to Cross-Cultural Competence (3C)

Cross-Cultural Competence (3C) is defined as the knowledge, skills, and abilities that allow one to function in a cross-cultural environment.  Currently, most programs that teach cultural competency are aimed at providing specific information about regions or languages. What 3C strives to accomplish is honing the skills necessary to be successful at mastering competency across any given culture.

How can we measure?

Situational Judgement Tests (SJTs) are commonly used to measure 3C skills. One of the advantages of these tests is that the student is forced to analyze a real-world situation. Additionally, Caligiuri and Tarique (2011) found that personal biodata i.e., the real-life experiences a person has put themselves through, can be a good indicator of their 3C. In fact, international experiences that were of a non-working capacity were found to correlate with competencies identified. Other methods of 3C measurement include self-report surveys, knowledge assessments, and behavioral ratings.

How can we train 3C?

For 3C training, it is important to note that up to 70% of learning is done outside the formal training framework. Most learning is done through social collaboration and personal experience. For this reason,  Caligiuri et al. suggest the military should use the Meister & Willyerd model for developing 3C. The model is depicted below and is developed using the social learning ecosystem. This model has been successfully implemented in 3C programs and can serve as the foundation for future 3C programs.

Learning Model

Stay tuned for future 3C posts where we will delve deeper into current practices and relevant research.


Caligiuri, P., Noe, R., Nolan, R., Ryan, A. M., & Drasgow, F. United States Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences, (2011). Training, developing, and assessing cross-cultural competence in military personnel (Technical Report 1284). Retrieved from website:

Meister, J.C., & Willyerd, K. (2010). The 2020 workplace: How innovative companies attract, develop, and keep tomorrow’s employees today. New York, NY: Harper Business.

Caligiuri, P., & Tarique, I. (2009). Developing managerial and organizational cultural agility. In C.Cooper & R.Burke (Eds.), The peak performing organization. New York, NY: Routledge Publishers.


About the Author:


Cognitive Performance Group, LLC is a woman-owned small business with offices in Orlando, Florida, and Cleveland, Ohio. It was founded by Dr. Karol G. Ross, Jennifer K. Phillips, and William A. Ross. The three CPG Principals developed the concept for a company to support cognitive performance improvement in industry and government. (more...)

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