Intercultural Communication Competence: Well-being and Performance of Multicultural Teams

Kavitha Balakrishnan, Madhubala Bava Harji, Ajitha Angusamy


Multiethnic groups coexist in a typical Malaysian university setting. Cultural patterns are expressed through communication facilitating better understanding between diverse cultural groups. Intercultural communication competence based on ethnicity is explained by employing structural equation modelling using Barrett and colleagues' (2013) indicators of attitude, knowledge and skills. These three constructs are hypothesized to explain intercultural communication competence and its effect on well-being and performance. Purposive sampling via a self-administered survey involved 288 Malaysian educators from higher education. The findings confirm that both endogenous constructs -- well-being and team performance -- can be used as predictive factors to assess intercultural communication competence.

    intercultural communication, communication competence, educators, well-being, team performance

Full text article

Generated from XML file


Abdullah, Z. (2010). Cultural diversity management in Malaysia: A perspective of communication management. In J. Syed & M.F. Èzbilgin (eds.), Managing Cultural Diversity in Asia: A Research Companion (14–38). Edward Elgar.
Arasaratnam, L. (2009). The development of a new instrument of intercultural communication competence. Journal of Intercultural Communication, 20.
Athota, V.S., P. Budhwar & A. Malik (2019). Influence of personality traits and moral values on employee well-being, resilience and performance: A cross-national study. Applied Psychology, 69(3): 653-685.
Bagozzi, R.P. & Y. Yi (1988). On the evaluation of structural equation models. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 16(1), 74-94.
Barrett, M., M. Byram, I. Lazar, P. Mompoint-Gaillard & S. Philippou, S. (2013). Developing Intercultural Competence Through Education. Strasbourg: Council of Europe Publishing.
Bennett, M.J. (1986). A developmental approach to training for intercultural sensitivity. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 10(2): 179-196.
Bennett, M.J. (1993). Towards ethnorelativism: A developmental model of intercultural sensitivity. In M. Paige (ed.), Education for the Intercultural Experience (21-71). Yarmouth, ME, USA: Intercultural Press.
Bennett, M.J. (1998). Intercultural communication: A current perspective. In M.J. Bennett (ed.), Basic Concepts of Intercultural Communication: Selected Readings. Yarmouth, ME: Intercultural Press.
Benson, P. & D.C. Nunan (2002). Special issue on the experience of language learning. Hong Kong Journal of Applied Linguistics, 7(2): 26-34.
Brooks, L.A., M.J. Bloomer & E. Manias (2018). Culturally sensitive communication at the end-of-life in the intensive care unit: A systematic review. Australian Critical Care, 32(6): 516-523.
Buzaglo, G. & S.A. Wheelan (1999). Facilitating work team effectiveness: Case studies from Central America. Small Group Research, 30(1): 108-129.
Byram, M. (1997). Teaching and Assessing Intercultural Communicative Competence. Multilingual Matters.
Byrne, B.M. (2013). Structural Equation Modeling with Mplus: Basic Concepts, Applications, and Programming. Routledge.
Cartledge, G. & L. Kourea (2008). Culturally responsive classrooms for culturally diverse students with and at risk for disabilities. Exceptional Children, 74(3): 351-371.
Chen, A.S.-y., Y.-c. Lin & A. Sawangpattanakul (2011). The relationship between cultural intelligence and performance with the mediating effect of culture shock: A case from Philippine laborers in Taiwan. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 35(2): 246-258.
Chung, L.C. (2019). Crossing boundaries: Cross-cultural communication. In K.D. Keith (ed.), Cross-cultural Psychology: Contemporary Themes and Perspectives (375-397). John Wiley & Sons.
Cooper, B., J. Wang, T. Bartram & F.L. Cooke (2019). Well-being-oriented human resource management practices and employee performance in the Chinese banking sector: The role of social climate and resilience. Human Resource Management, 58(1): 85-97.
Côté, P. & R. Clément (1994). Language attitudes: An interactive situated approach. Language & Communication, 14(3): 237-251.
Dalib, S., M. Harun & N. Yusof (2017). Student intercultural competence in a Malaysian campus: A phenomenological approach. Journal of Multicultural Discourses, 12(1): 42-62.
Deardorff, D.K. (2006). Identification and assessment of intercultural competence as a student outcome of internationalization. Journal of Studies in International Education, 10(3): 241-266.
Deardorff, D.K. (2009). Implementing intercultural competence assessment. In D.K. Deardorff (ed.), Handbook of Intercultural Competence (264-270). Sage.
Diamantopoulos, A. & J.A. Siguaw (2006). Formative versus reflective indicators in organizational measure development: A comparison and empirical illustration. British Journal of Management, 17(4): 263-282.
Diener, E., C.N. Scollon & R.E. Lucas (2009). The evolving concept of subjective well-being: The multifaceted nature of happiness. In E. Diener (ed.), Assessing Well-being (67-100). Springer.
Dinges, N.G. & D.A. Lieberman (1989). Intercultural communication competence: Coping with stressful work situations. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 13(3): 371-385.
Dumitrescu, V. M. (2013). Culture as communication: Communication style across and within cultures. Synergy, 9(1): 84-91. Accessed 30 August 2021 from
Durand, M. (2015). The OECD better life initiative: How's life? and the measurement of well-being. Review of Income and Wealth, 61(1): 4-17.
Easterlin, R.A. (2003). Explaining happiness. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 100(19): 11176-11183.
Fantini, A.E. (2005). About intercultural communicative competence: A construct. SIT Occasional Papers Series.
Fontaine, R. & S. Richardson (2003). Cross-cultural research in Malaysia. Cross Cultural Management: An International Journal, 10(2): 75-89.
Fontaine, R., S. Richardson & Y. Peik Foong (2002). The tropical fish problem revisited: A Malaysian perspective. Cross Cultural Management: An International Journal, 9(4): 60-70.
Fornell, C. (1981). A comparative analysis of two structural equation models: LISREL and PLS applied to consumer exit-voice theory. Journal of Marketing Research, 19(4): 440-452.
Fornell, C. & D.F. Larcker (1981). Structural equation models with unobservable variables and measurement error: Algebra and statistics. Journal of Marketing Research, 18(3): 382-388.
Fraenkel, J.R., N.E. Wallen & H.H. Hyun (2012). How to Design and Evaluate Research in Education. McGraw Hall.
Gay, G. (2002). Preparing for culturally responsive teaching. Journal of Teacher Education, 53(2): 106-116.
Giles, H. & P. Powesland (1997). Accommodation theory. In N. Coupland & A. Jaworski (eds.), Sociolinguistics (232-239). Palgrave.
Goldstein, S.B. (1999). Construction and validation of a conflict communication scale. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 29(9): 1803-1832.
Griffith, R.L., L. Wolfeld, B.K. Armon, J. Rios & O.L. Liu (2016). Assessing intercultural competence in higher education: Existing research and future directions. ETS Research Report Series, 2016(2): 1-44.
Gu, M. (2017). Symbolic competence in multilingual interactions in a university setting: A complexity analysis. Multilingua, 36(1): 59-88.
Guest, D.E. (2017). Human resource management and employee well-being: Towards a new analytic framework. Human Resource Management Journal, 27(1): 22-38.
Gut, A., M. Wilczewski & O. Gorbaniuk (2017). Cultural differences, stereotypes and communication needs in intercultural communication in a global multicultural environment: The employees’ perspective. Journal of Intercultural Communication, 43.
Hair, J.F., G.T.M. Hult, C.M. Ringle & M. Sarstedt (2017). A Primer on Partial Least Squares Structural Equation Modeling (2nd ed.). Sage.
Hall, E. T., & Hall, T. (1959). The Silent Language. Anchor.
Hall, E.T. (1990). Understanding Cultural Differences, Germans, French and Americans. Yarmouth, ME, USA: Intercultural Press.
Hammer, M.R., R.L. Wiseman, J.L. Rasmussen & J.C. Bruschke (1998). A test of anxiety/uncertainty management theory: The intercultural adaptation context. Communication Quarterly, 46(3): 309-326.
Henseler, J., C.M. Ringle & M. Sarstedt (2015). A new criterion for assessing discriminant validity in variance-based structural equation modeling. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 43(1): 115-135.
Hmieleski, K. M. & L.D. Sheppard (2019). The yin and yang of entrepreneurship: Gender differences in the importance of communal and agentic characteristics for entrepreneurs' subjective well-being and performance. Journal of Business Venturing, 34(4): 709-730.
Hofstede, G. (2001). Culture's Consequences: Comparing Values, Behaviors, Institutions, and Organizations Across Nations. Sage.
Hofstede, G. (1991) Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind. McGraw Hill.
Hofstede, G. (1980). Culture's Consequences: International Differences in Work-related Values. Sage.
Hunter, B., G.P. White & G.C. Godbey (2006). What does it mean to be globally competent? Journal of Studies in International Education, 10(3): 267-285.
Idrus, F. (2012). Shared identity construction: The Third Space Exploration. International Journal of Humanities and Social Science, 2(21): 111-119. Accessed 30 August 2021 from
Ismail, I.R. & J. Lawrence (2012). Investigating intercultural communication across ethnic diversity: A preliminary study at University Malaysia Terengganu. In MM. Noor, M.M. Rahman & J. Ismail (eds.), Proceedings of the 2nd Malaysian Postgraduate Conference (101-130). Sydney: Education Malaysia.
Johnson, J.P., T. Lenartowicz & S. Apud (2006). Cross-cultural competence in international business: Toward a definition and a model. Journal of International Business Studies, 37: 525-543.
Kim, Y.Y. (1988). Communication and Cross-cultural Adaptation: An Integrative Theory. Multilingual Matters.
King, P.M. & M.B. Baxter Magolda (2005). A development of intercultural maturity. Journal of College Student Development, 46(6): 571-592.
Korzenny, F., & Korzenny, G. BA (1984). Quantitative approaches: An overview. In W.B. Gudykunst & Y.Y. Kim (eds.), Methods for Intercultural Communication Research (85-94). Books on Demand.
Krishnasamy, H.N., M.H. Hussein & S. Dalib (2014). Intercultural interaction experiences in a tertiary level institution in Malaysia. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 155(6): 465-470.
Ladson-Billings, G. (1994). What we can learn from multicultural education research. Educational Leadership, 51(8): 22-26.
Lewis, R.D. (2005). Finland: Cultural Lone Wolf. Yarmouth, ME, USA: Intercultural Press.
Lewis, R.D. (1999). Cross Cultural Communication: A Visual Approach. Transcreen Publications.
Lewis, D. (1998). How useful a concept is organizational culture? Strategic Change, 7(5): 251-260.;2-0
Liu, M. (2016). Verbal communication styles and culture. In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Communication.
Matveev, A.V. & R. Miller (2004). The value of intercultural competence for performance of multicultural teams. Team Performance Management, 10(5-6): 104-111.
Matveev, A.V. (2002). The Perception of Intercultural Communication Competence by American and Russian Managers with Experience on Multicultural Teams (PhD thesis). Ohio University. Accessed 30 August 2021 at
Mustapha, R., N. Azman, F. Karim, A.R. Ahmad & M.A. Lubis (2009). Social integration among multi-ethnic students at selected Malaysian universities in peninsular Malaysia: A survey of campus social climate. ASEAN Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (AJTLHE), 1(1): 35-44. Accessed 30 August 2021 from
Navas, M., M.C. García, J. Sánchez, A.J. Rojas, P. Pumares & J.S. Fernández (2005). Relative Acculturation Extended Model (RAEM): New contributions with regard to the study of acculturation. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 29(1): 21-37.
Neuliep, J.P. (2019). Anxiety, Uncertainty, and intercultural communication. In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Communication.
Neuliep, J.P. (2011). Intercultural Communication: A Contextual Approach. Sage.
Neuling, I. (1999). Differences in communication styles between cultures (term paper). Accessed 30 August 2021 from
Nishimura, S., A. Nevgi & S. Tella (2008). Communication style and cultural features in high/low context communication cultures: A case study of Finland, Japan and India. In A. Kallioniemi (ed.), Uudistuva ja kehittyvä ainedidaktiikka: Ainedidaktinen symposiumi (783-796). Accessed 30 August 2021 from
Nunan, D. 1991. Communicative tasks and the language curriculum. TESOL Quarterly, 25(2): 279–95.
OECD (2013). OECD Guidelines on Measuring Subjective Well-being. OECD Publishing.
Osman-Gani, A.M. & J.S. Tan (2002). Influence of culture on negotiation styles of Asian managers: An empirical study of major cultural/ethnic groups in Singapore. Thunderbird International Business Review, 44(6): 819-839.
Pandian, A. (2008). Multiculturalism in higher education: A case study of Middle Eastern students' perceptions and experiences in a Malaysian University. International Journal of Asia Pacific Studies, 4(1): 33-59. Accessed 30 August 2021 from
Parrish, P. & J. Linder-VanBerschot (2010). Cultural dimensions of learning: Addressing the challenges of multicultural instruction. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 11(2): 1-19.
Peterson, J.C., T. Milstein, Y.W. Chen & M. Nakazawa (2011). Self-efficacy in intercultural communication: The development and validation of a sojourners' scale. Journal of International and Intercultural Communication, 4(4): 290-309.
Rogers, E.M. & W. B. Hart (2002). Edward T. Hall and the history of intercultural communication: The United States and Japan. Keio Communication Review, 24: 3-26. Accessed 30 August 2021 from
Salo-Lee, L. (2006). Intercultural competence research: Focuses and challenges. In Ø. Dahl, I. Jensen & P. Nynäs, Bridges of Understanding: Perspectives on Intercultural Communication (129-140). Oslo Academic Press.
Seligman, M.E. & M. Csikszentmihalyi (2014). Positive psychology: An introduction. In M. Csikszentmihalyi (ed.), Flow and the Foundations of Positive Psychology (279-298). Springer.
Sizoo, S., R. Plank, W. Iskat & H. Serrie (2005). The effect of intercultural sensitivity on employee performance in cross-cultural service encounters. Journal of Services Marketing, 19(4): 245-255.
Sualman, I., M. Hamzah & N.S. Roskhamdi (2019). The forces of intercultural communication toward national unity in Malaysian vernacular schools. In A.N.M. Noor, Z.Z.M. Zakuan & S.M. Noor (eds.), Proceedings of the Second International Conference on the Future of ASEAN (ICoFA) 2017 – Vol. 1 (155-166). Springer.
Sulkowski, N. & M.K. Deakin (2009). Does understanding culture help enhance students' learning experience? International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 21(2): 154-166.
Sulkowski, N. & M.K. Deakin (2010). Implications of internationalisation on learning and teaching: Listening to the winds of change? Journal of Hospitality, Leisure, Sports and Tourism Education, 9(1), 110-116. Accessed 30 August 2021 from
Urbach, N. & F. Ahlemann (2010). Structural equation modeling in information systems research using partial least squares. Journal of Information Technology Theory and Application, 11(2): 5-40. Accessed 30 August 2021 from
Wen Huey, K. (2012). Cross-cultural worker conflict in a multinational company: The case of Ibiden, a Japanese company in Malaysia (research report, master's degree). University Sains Malaysia. Accessed 30 August 2021 from
Wheelan, S.A., G. Buzaglo & E. Tsumura (1998). Developing assessment tools for cross-cultural group research. Small Group Research, 29(3): 359-370.
Wheelan, S.A. (1994). Group Processes: A Developmental Perspective. Allyn & Bacon.
Wheelan, S.A. (1990). Facilitating Training Groups: A Guide to Leadership and Verbal Intervention Skills. Greenwood Publishing Group.
Wilczewski, M. (2015). Intercultural communication competence as a success factor for a manager operating in a multinational environment. In S. Grucza & J. Alnajjar (eds.), Kommunikation in multikulturellen Projektteams (51-71). Peter Lang.
Woolfolk, A. (2010). Educational Psychology. Upper Saddle River, NJ, USA: Merrill.
Yeasmin, N., T. Koivurova & E. Heikkilä (2019). A perceived change in intercultural behavior: Analyzing self-determination for well-being among youth. International Journal of Sociology, 49(4): 298-315.
Zawawi, D. (2008). Cultural dimensions among Malaysian employees. International Journal of Economics and Management, 2(2): 409-426. Accessed 30 August 2021 from
Zimmermann, K. (2010). Intercultural Competence as a Success Factor of Virtual Multicultural Teams: A Case Study on the Team Effectiveness of Global HR Teams (master’s thesis). Jyväskylä, Finland: University of Jyväskylä. Accessed 30 August 2021 from


Kavitha Balakrishnan (Primary Contact)
Madhubala Bava Harji
Ajitha Angusamy
Author Biographies

Kavitha Balakrishnan, Faculty of Applied Communication, Multimedia University, Jalan Ayer Keroh Lama, Bukit Beruang, 75450 Melaka, Malaysia

Dr. Kavitha Balakrishnan is a principal lecturer in the Faculty of Applied Communication at Multimedia University in Malaysia. She teaches English language and communication and provides business writing courses, in-house trainings and communication-skills workshops for government agencies, corporate clients and private organizations. She has published in the areas of communication, language and education in Scopus-indexed journals

Madhubala Bava Harji, Faculty of Applied Communication, Multimedia University, Jalan Ayer Keroh Lama, Bukit Beruang, 75450 Melaka, Malaysia

Dr. Madhubala Bava Harji is an associate professor attached to Multimedia University with vast experience in the administration of institutes and faculties, serving as head, director or dean. She is actively involved in research in language, communication and education. She has published textbooks as well as numerous papers in internationally indexed journals. She is a reviewer for various international journals. Her research areas of interest include the use of information and communications technology in education.

Ajitha Angusamy, Faculty of Applied Communication, Multimedia University, Jalan Ayer Keroh Lama, Bukit Beruang, 75450 Melaka, Malaysia

Dr. Ajitha Angusamy is a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Business at Multimedia University. Her expertise is in the areas of education and social sciences. She teaches quantitative subjects to undergraduate and postgraduate students. She is actively involved in research and has published articles in numerous Scopus-indexed journals and with international conferences.

Balakrishnan, K., Harji, M. B., & Angusamy, A. (2022). Intercultural Communication Competence: Well-being and Performance of Multicultural Teams . Journal of Intercultural Communication, 21(2), 82–96.

Article Details