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INTERCULTURAL COMPETENCE: BRIDGING THE INTERSECTORAL GAP

D. Lukic1, M. Yarosh2, H. Martins3

1Glasgow Caledonian University (UNITED KINGDOM)
2University of Deusto (SPAIN)
3University of Porto (PORTUGAL)
The concept of intercultural competence is a debated notion that was formed and gained importance especially lately with changes in society which, though undergoing a process of globalization, still fosters increasing diversity with possible clashes of cultures. In that sense intercultural competence would be a product of the intercultural learning process as it represents 'a complex of abilities needed to perform effectively and appropriately when interacting with others who are linguistically and culturally different from oneself' (Fantini, 2007). Intercultural competence includes knowledge skills and attitudes regarding intercultural contexts and situations. However, the development and practical implications of the concept are done in three silos of knowledge and experience: industry, universities and the NGO sector. The problem is that these developments are happening for the most part without interaction and exchange of knowledge. These three sectors primarily focus on different aspects of the intercultural competence. Academics and higher education focuses on the knowledge and theoretical concepts of interculturality. The industry and organisations have gone a great way in trying to develop intercultural skills for their employees. The non-profit and NGO sector is engaged in innovative methods of training for intercultural competence through non-formal learning focusing also on developing attitudes of interculturality. Nevertheless, these developments are not linking together. The paper presents an overview of findings and approaches regarding intercultural competence in these three sectors. The concept of intercultural competence is seen from three perspectives using the diverse experience of the researchers taking part in the study: intercultural competence in higher education, intercultural competence in non-formal education and intercultural competence in organisations. The paper proposes ways forward in integrating the research and development in training and bridging the intersectoral knowledge gap in order to foster a platform for innovative and effective approaches to intercultural competence.