Intercultural communication competence: Identifying key components from multicultural perspectives

Lily A. Arasaratnam, Marya L. Doerfel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

150 Scopus citations


Intercultural communication competence (ICC) is an area of study that is becoming more relevant in the increasingly multicultural communities that we live in. Though much progress has been made in this area of research since Hall [(1959). The silent language. New York: Anchor Books], a satisfactory model of ICC and a scale that translates well into different cultures is yet to be developed. This paper presents a review of past research in ICC and describes a unique approach to identifying variables that contribute toward perceived ICC. Specifically, this study triangulates and updates past research on ICC by integrating the theoretical backgrounds of social psychology, interpersonal communication, and anthropology to construct a multidimensional understanding of ICC. Data were collected via face-to-face interviews with participants representing 15 different countries and responses were analyzed using semantic network analysis. A definition of intercultural communication was derived from the responses, and knowledge and motivation were identified as important components of ICC. Additions to a multidimensional definition of ICC include listening skills, prior cross-cultural experiences, having a global outlook as opposed to an ethnocentric one, and an other-centered style of communication. Limitations of the study and implications for future research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)137-163
Number of pages27
JournalInternational Journal of Intercultural Relations
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


  • Competence
  • Intercultural communication
  • Semantic network analysis


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