Cultural intelligence: Is such a capacity credible?

Charles Hampden-Turner*, Fons Trompenaars

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Are claims to describe and measure cultural intelligence credible? Three major objections are discussed: (a) Cultures are said to be entirely relative in their values, so holding one culture to be more intelligent than another is discriminatory; (b) cultural studies are said to be a form of postmodernism, whereas to have one central definition of culture is modernist - an imposition of our own dominant beliefs; and (c) attempts to categorize cultures are said to be crude stereotypes lacking subject. The answer to the first objection is the synergy hypothesis: Values are relative, but they are more or less synergistic. The answer to the second objection is the complementary hypothesis: Cultures are different, even polar opposites, yet they converge in a fuller description. The answer to the third objection is the latency hypothesis, for which every value is given face value and its latent shadow lies behind it.


  • Complementarity
  • Cross-cultural competence
  • Cultural intelligence
  • Learning
  • Mirror image
  • Pattern
  • Reconciliation
  • Synergy


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