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Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)


International Studies

First Advisor

Janet Bennet

Second Advisor

Francisca Trujillo-Dalby

First Committee Member

Kent Warren


This study addresses the challenges of developing the intercultural competency of global leaders within the context of the U.S. multinational corporation (U.S.M.C.). This research seeks to examine how organizations develop managers capable of leading in a pluralistic work environment and the implications of this kind of learning on the current assumptions held by intercultural academia and the business community. The research approach was interdisciplinary: combining adult learning theory (self-directed and transformational learning), international business communication and leadership, systems thinking, organizational development and learning, and intercultural theory.

The following questions were addressed: How is cultural competence developed, supported, and integrated by the U.S. multinational organization? What challenges and obstacles do organizations face in effectively developing globally competent leaders? How can the intercultural academic community help to facilitate cultural competency development in the organizational context?

The study found that, although global leadership competency is largely undefined in organizations, the mandate "to be global" is pervasive. In spite of this, culture in the organizational context and its impact on leadership development and performance are not widely understood in U.S.M.C.s. Yet, the study also found that most organizations do not have programs of any kind that promote intercultural competency development. Reasons for this discrepancy centered mostly on lack of awareness and support at the highest levels in organizations, business cost justification, and the lack of collaboration among (corporate) departments as well as between organizations and the intercultural academic community.

Two data sets were used to complete this research. The first set included members of the corporate business units of Learning and Development.(L&D), Human Resources (HR), and Diversity. The second data set was comprised of interculturalists who hailed from the academic community, the business community, or both.



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