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What is intercultural business communication?

What is intercultural business communication?

If you’ve come across the words ‘intercultural business communication’ before, there’s a good chance that you were able to gather a reasonable understanding of what it can mean – after all, it’s a fairly self-descriptive term.

However, the discipline of intercultural business communication has a surprisingly wide scope, and for many professionals it can be helpful to have a more robust knowledge of all that it involves.

This is especially true if you think this could be a subject you’d like to build a career on; you’ll quickly discover that intercultural business communication is a fascinating, dynamic line of work.

Defining the discipline

To gain a solid grasp of intercultural business communication, it’s necessary to first understand what ‘intercultural’ means.

Simply put, this term is used to describe something that involves or exists between two or more cultures.

 The phrase ‘intercultural communication’ was coined by Edward T Hall in 1959with him defining it as communication between people of various cultures.  

Similarly, an intercultural business is a company which comprises or engages with two or more cultures.

Together, intercultural business communication relates to the exchanging of information between said cultures.

Here’s where the full scale of the discipline becomes clearer: intercultural business communication can refer to cultures that exist within a single team, the wider organisation, across different branches of the same organisation, or even between the organisation and its target audience.

Why it matters to businesses

As covered in our earlier blog post ‘Cultural differences and their risk to business’, the world becoming increasingly interconnected has introduced both opportunities and challenges for businesses.

We all know that different cultures can assign their own meanings, values, and practices for the same thing. These differences can add a rich perspective to our lives, and in the context of business, understanding them can help boost creativity, collaboration, and productivity.

On the other end of the spectrum, the impact of poor intercultural business communication can be felt on a micro and macro scale across organisations – from confusing team meetings to entire marketing campaigns getting lost in translation.

Take a minute to consider how often you might have experienced a simple misunderstanding within your own family. While you may speak the same language, or even come from similar backgrounds, breakdowns in communication are an unavoidable aspect of interacting with each other.

Now imagine the nuances that are gained (or lost) when conversing with someone from a different cultural background. Next, imagine if they speak your native language as their second language, or if you both have to converse in a second language!

Achieving clarity of communication within linguistically and culturally diverse organisations cultures not only improves output, but can go on to save substantial time and money that would be otherwise lost to failed projects.

The main reason for failure in international business is a lack of cultural understating and competencies. As modern corporations become increasingly globalised, businesses need to develop their cross-cultural competencies in being able to apply and understand the variety of cultural signals, cues, awareness, and sensitivities.’ 

Dr Shakeel Ahmed, Course Leader 

Communication as a career

By studying intercultural business communication, you can equip yourself with the tools to help your company succeed across all intercultural contexts – from onboarding team members to expanding their product offering to a new continent.

Investing in your education will allow you to develop the research capabilities needed to appreciate and understand different cultures, as well as the interpersonal skills needed to facilitate healthy, constructive conversations.

With our online, part-time MA Intercultural Business Communication course you’ll even learn about the historical and theoretical factors that impact communication within diverse organisations.

In a field as expansive as intercultural business communications, this comprehensive approach will help ensure that you can navigate different situations with consideration and confidence.

Specialising in intercultural business communication isn’t limited to supporting your company’s HR function either. You’ll be able to apply your expertise to help your company navigate their growth, enhance their product offering, enable more inclusive practices, and so much more.

Plus, whether you’re passionate about marketing, academia, hospitality, construction, or even pharmaceuticals; today’s global market means that you can thrive in the industry of your choice. You can even work as a consultant, and help multiple companies across the span of your career.

Think a role in intercultural business communication might be your professional calling? Explore our MA in Intercultural Business Communication and learn more about how you can earn your qualification from anywhere in the world, at any time.

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