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Durham University

School of Education

Research Projects

Publication details

Holmes, P. & Zhou, V. (2020). Intercultural business education: The role of critical theory and experiential learning. In The Routledge Handbook of Language and Intercultural Communication. Jackson, J. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. 457-472.

Author(s) from Durham


Workplaces, both locally and globally, are increasingly characterised by complexity, ambiguity, and diversity, but also by individual distinctiveness and local relations. People in the workplace encounter this complexity through technology, and other forms of knowledge and interpersonal relations and exchange; therefore, they require the knowledge and skills to navigate these cultural, linguistic, and other differences both for fostering their professional development and for handling pragmatic issues. How then is intercultural communication to be delivered in higher education to support students’ learning and prepare them for the contemporary workplace? To explore and elucidate this question, we provide an overview of some key contemporary theoretical perspectives on and approaches to intercultural business communication. Next, we present several approaches, characterised by experiential learning and critical reflective intercultural action, that illustrate our own pedagogic practices that seek to support intercultural learning in the contemporary workplace. We describe two cases in which students are guided to reflect on their own intercultural competence in intercultural encounters and on the dynamics of multicultural teamwork. The authors conclude the chapter by discussing implications and directions for future intercultural business communication research and pedagogy.

School of Education