Cultural Intelligence by David C. Thomas and Kerr Inkson

A Book Corner Review

Cultural Intelligence: Living and Working Globally (2nd ed.)

By David C. Thomas and Kerr Inkson
Berrett-Koehler, 2009

[powerpress http://gsbm-med.pepperdine.edu/gbr/audio/winter2010/review-rhodes.mp3]

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4 stars: Thought-provoking and intellectually stimulating materialIn this second edition, Thomas and Inkson succinctly describe a world in which countries are neighbors, intricately linked beyond the individual cultures they exhibit. Citing the disaster of 9/11 and the global financial collapse of 2008 as two of the most globally visible stark reminders that the world is interlocked, the authors posit that events within any one culture, impact others. They believe these facts require new ways of thinking and behaving around culture.

The authors’ view is a globally systemic one in which individuals increase their effectiveness in business by developing a broad view of cultures around the world rather than simplistically experiencing them through the limited frame of one’s own culture. They discuss the importance of building skillful awareness around cultural differences and leveraging that awareness into effective leadership and decision making. This, they pose, is the basis for cultural intelligence whose components are knowledge, mindfulness, and skills.

Written for use by managers and leaders within organizations, the authors clearly ground their perspectives in solid research and include chapters on leading across cultures and working with multicultural groups and teams. Through the use of short cases and examples, Thomas and Inkson build their argument on how cultural lenses influence individual behavior, on the advantages of deepening an awareness of one’s own behaviors, and on turning off the “cultural cruise control” in order to adopt new behaviors.

Cultural Intelligence will provide business practitioners who work in multicultural environments a clear and tangible look into ways to minimize misunderstandings due to cultural differences. For those not working in a multicultural environments, the authors provide a critical look into the advantages of a world in which businesses have cultivated the cultural mindfulness needed to keep their businesses successful while working to develop a deeper understanding of what is needed to support a global community.

Full Disclosure: Graziadio Business Report Managing Editor Danielle L. Scott worked with the publisher Berrett-Koehler on Cultural Intelligence (2nd ed.) as a manuscript reviewer/editor.

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About the Author(s)

Kent Rhodes, EdD, serves as a participating faculty member at Pepperdine in the area of Organizational Behavior, Theory and Leadership. He is an entrepreneur who maintains a successful coaching and consulting practice for a variety of privately held and family-owned enterprises. Rhodes founded OnCourse Network, Inc., an Internet education company, and served as chief executive of the company. He successfully negotiated the sale of the company to a Silicon Valley publicly traded corporation and subsequently served as a principal with that company in San Jose, California until he successfully completed its acquisition and integration growth strategies in 2001, when he joined the Pepperdine faculty as visiting professor.