Dealing with Diversity: Intersections and Frictions between Personal and Organisational Development

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Several authors in the field of intercultural research have presented binary developmental models to describe the development of intercultural competences as a prototype of dealing with social and cultural diversity (e.g. Hoopes, Bennett, Berry). All models are based on a semantic approach of “opening and closure”. It is assumed that the increase of intercultural encounters and diversity experiences may ideally lead to a reflexive learning process, resulting in a transformation of complex ethno- and egocentric world-views. Such approaches have also been applied to the analytical description of organisations and their capacities of dealing with diversity (e.g. Adler). But personal and organisational developments might intersect in a paradox way leading to frictions in the envisioned learning process. Based on a brief review of intercultural competence models, it will be argued that dealing with cultural diversity on the organisational level cannot be understood as aggregation of personal intercultural development of individuals. As an alternative approach a two-dimensional typology of intercultural orientations within organisational contexts will be introduced in the presentation. Participants are invited to discuss this typology and constraints that can obstruct diversity policies and intercultural learning.


Keywords: Intercultural Development, Cultural Diversity, Competence, Organisation, Learning, Ethnocentrism
Stream: Organisations
Presentation Type: 30 minute Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Dealing with Diversity


Dr. Matthias Otten

Researcher and Senior Lecturer, Department of Intercultural Education, University of Landau
Landau, Germany

Dr. Matthias Otten is research fellow and senior lecturer at the Department of Intercultural Education at the University Landau and before he was working at Centre for Cultural Studies the University of Karlsruhe in Germany. Several of his research projects and publications are dealing with intercultural communication, the development of intercultural competence and the analysis of diversity in Higher Education. He was visiting research scholar at the Institute of Migration and Ethnic Relations at Malmö University in Sweden, where he organised an international conference on “Internationalisation at Home” in Higher Education. Matthias has published widely in the area of intercultural communication and diversity. Currently he is co-editor of a special issue on “Interculturality and Higher Education” of the journal Intercultural Education and a two-volume book on Intercultural Competence in Chance (“Interkulturelle Kompetenz im Wandel”). He is a member of the Society for Intercultural Education Training and Research (SIETAR), the German Sociological Association and the German Disability Studies Network.

Ref: D08P0297