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Title: The role of emotional intelligence in enhancing intercultural sensitivity
Authors: Saberi, Maria Akbar
Advisors: Cornelius, N
Al-Tahoo, L
Keywords: Intercultural training;Grounded theory;Intercultural development inventory (IDI);EI entry-points;Training model
Issue Date: 2012
Publisher: Brunel University Brunel Business School PhD Theses
Abstract: Emotions have been noted for their crucial role in survival behaviour relating to resistance to cross-cultural ambiguity. Today's globalised multinational corporations (MNCs) have recognised the importance of developing their diverse workforces' intercultural sensitivity (ICS) – a worldview towards cultural difference – as a means of reducing resistance to cross-cultural ambiguity hence maintaining a professional multicultural work environment. However, no studies have yet been made investigating the role of emotional intelligence (EI) in enhancing intercultural sensitivity and simultaneously regulating emotions produced from resistance to cultural difference. Therefore, this study has explored the role of EI in enhancing ICS aiming at increasing the effectiveness of intercultural training within the context of multinational organisations. A theoretical framework was constructed presenting the idea of EI entry-points into intercultural sensitivity and resistance to difference. Through an inductive research approach, a chosen multinational airline company's flight attendants were targeted with in-depth semi-structured interviews. Grounded theory analysis was applied. The analysis resulted in the development of a grounded emotional-cognitive intercultural adaptation process together with three adaptive cognitive states. These were named: Learn, Understand, and Know. Each cognitive state was noted to be associated with a particular emotional state that causes the interacting individual to shift into the relevant cognitive state. The emotions surprise and curiosity were found to be associated with Learn while empathy was found to be associated with Understand, and finally acceptance was found to be associated with Know. The research results strongly support the proposed EI entry-points within the grounded emotional-cognitive content of the produced intercultural adaptation process. The results address the research aim regarding the role of EI in enhancing ICS. Through the EI entry-points, ICS is indirectly enhanced through the development of intercultural performance as EI mental abilities are proposed which would regulate one's behaviour towards the three grounded emotional-cognitive intercultural adaptation states. The developed model is suggested to contribute to enhancing the effectiveness of intercultural training. The trainee's intercultural performance could be enhanced through directing the emotional-cognitive dynamics, during intercultural interaction, towards the empirically grounded set of emotional-cognitive states. As linking EI and ICS remains an important and under-explored topic, it is hoped that the findings of this study will present a better understanding of the dynamics of emotions within the context of multinational organisations, as well as the role of EI in enhancing ICS, subsequently leading to further research.
Description: This thesis was submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy and awarded by Brunel University.
Appears in Collections:Business and Management
Brunel Business School Theses

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