Enhancing Intercultural Competence through International Study Tours

By Roberto Bergami.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The notion of global citizenship appears to be a commonly featured element in graduate attributes outcomes at Australian universities. Global citizens are expected to be able to successfully function in diverse environments within multi-cultural teams, and thus make a positive contribution to the communities in which they work and serve. Intercultural competency is, therefore, an essential element of being a global citizen and an issue of relevance in a modern society with globalised economies and increasing labour mobility opportunities. This paper argues that intercultural competency is best acquired ‘in the field’, that is, through first hand experience gained by being on location in a foreign land. Whilst student exchange programs provide this opportunity, this is not possible for every individual, due to personal matters, work commitments and financial issues. An alternative approach is offered through an international study tour that provides students with a short term cultural immersion experience. This paper reports on the results of such an experience that was shared within both business and social contexts, for a small cohort of business studies students enrolled at an Australian university. These students participated in a two week international study tour to Malaysia during the later part of 2010. Based on data from voluntary surveys, the paper concludes that that the study tour experience improved aspects of the students’ intercultural competency, such as dissimilarity openness, self-monitoring and intercultural communication.

Keywords: Intercultural Competency, Multicultural Teams, International Study Tours, Cultural Immersion

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 9, Issue 11, pp.41-58. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 800.680KB).

Dr. Roberto Bergami

Senior Lecturer (Practice of International Trade) and Associate Researcher, Institute for Community, Ethnicity and Policy Alternatives, School of International Business, Faculty of Business and Law, Victoria University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Roberto has over twenty years’ experience in the manufacturing industry, primarily within the pharmaceutical sector. He held a number of roles with an international focus in finance, sales, marketing, customer service and logistics. Roberto’s teaching spans over twenty years with experience in Higher Education, TAFE and private education providers. Currently a Senior Lecturer in the School of International Business at Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia, and an Associate Researcher in the Centre for Strategic and economic Studies, Roberto holds a Master in Education, a Master of Business by Research (Applied Economics) and a Ph.D. Roberto is a Visiting Professor at the University of South Bohemia, Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic. Roberto has maintained his involvement with industry through a number of peak associations where he enjoys various grades of senior level membership. In 2002 Roberto received the State of Victoria Quarantine Award for his efforts in educating students in quarantine matters. Roberto’s main areas of research interests in international trade focus on government regulations; delivery terms (Incoterms); international payment terms; and market entry barriers. Other research interests include professional development of academics/teachers, the development of communities of practice, online teaching and online communities, migration from Emilia-Romagna (Italy) to Australia and teenage/youth dialect.

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