Exploring Intercultural Communicative Competence: A Multinational Perspective
“Intercultural Communicative Competence: A Multinational Perspective” is a research effort involving eight countries and conducted in two distinct phases: I. Exploring and Assessing Intercultural Competence and II. Assessing Intercultural Sojourns: Outcomes and Impact. Both research efforts are projects of the Federation of The Experiment in International Living (Federation EIL), with international headquarters in Brattleboro, Vermont, in the USA. Phase I was a longitudinal study conducted from 2005 to 2006 with funding from the Center for Social Development (CSD), Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri; and Phase II, based on a retrospective design, was conducted from January through October 2015 with funding from the Center for Educational Resources in Culture, Language, and Literacy (CERCLL), University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona. The entire project is designed as an extended multinational study, utilizing cross-cultural survey methods, with hopes of eventually involving all Federation EIL Member Organizations (MOs) worldwide. The purpose of the Initial Phase Project was to explore and to develop a comprehensive construct of intercultural communicative competence (ICC), first through an extensive search of the intercultural literature, develop an instrument for its assessment based on these findings combined with our own empirical experience and, finally, it investigated intercultural outcomes and impact on participants and their hosts undergoing sojourns during international, intercultural exchange programs. The Initial Phase involved three MOs: Great Britain, Ecuador, and Switzerland. The Follow-on Phase extended the study to include five additional MOs to our research efforts - - Brazil, Germany, Ireland, Japan, and the USA. Once again, the project involved MOs in a learning process with the potential to: 1) further their efforts in several areas, 2) improve understanding of and further Federation EIL’s goals and modus operandi, 3) strengthen their ability to improve delivery of their international, intercultural educational programs, and 4) enhance the development of the ICC of future participants and possibly of hosts as well. Both studies were conducted through use of survey questionnaires followed by individual telephone interviews, collecting and combining both quantitative and qualitative data on both sojourners and hosts. Analysis of the data provided important findings regarding not only each cultural group (the particularist aspect) but also aspects that all groups shared in common (the universalist aspect). Finally, these efforts contribute important knowledge to the field of international, intercultural education regarding intercultural efforts concerned with the identification, development, and assessment of intercultural communicative competencies and the impact of intercultural experiences on the lives of those engaged in sojourns abroad and their hosts.