Joëlle Hietbrink


Assessing Intercultural Competence Outcomes for International Business

At present, there is no commonly accepted, valid and reliable IC assessment tool to show that individuals possess IC. Therefore, the objective of this PhD project is to propose a method to assess specific IC outcomes, based on actual behaviour, possibly in combination with other (indirect) measures or perspectives. This will be applied to the field of International Business. The general research question is: how to properly assess the behavioural component of Intercultural Competence in the field of International Business?

The project will be carried out in four phases leading to four articles for publication. Qualitative and quantitative measures will be combined in a mixed methods approach to fit the purpose of each phase of the research. Phase one, exploring the concepts and constructs of Intercultural Competence, in situ competences and competence assessment, will be qualitative. Phase two will combine qualitative and quantitative methods. First, to find out what outcomes of Intercultural Competence in International Business are according to practitioners, semi-structured interviews will be held in focus groups consisting of (human resource) managers, employees and other stakeholders from ten multinational companies. Afterwards, the outcomes of the focus groups will be presented to a broader group of stakeholders by means of a survey among more companies, as well as lecturers, alumni and students from International Business programmes. Phase three will be the development of a tool and will use quantitative measures to test and validate it. In phase four, the tool’s applicability will be tested on International Business students and students from comparable but less international programmes from two or three different European universities of applied sciences. Phases three and four will have a quasi-experimental cross-sectional design.

The scientific novelty of the project is that it will define in-situ IC competences in the field of International Business based on employers’ needs. These will be used to develop a tool to assess IC for IB based on a performance measure; the tool will be tested and validated by qualitative and quantitative research. The societal benefit of this project is twofold: IB graduates can use the tool to show that they have the necessary IC to work as  beginning professionals; conversely, employers can use it to test candidates’ IC.

Joëlle Hietbrink is an Internationalisation Coordinator and Intercultural Communication Lecturer at Stenden University of Applied Sciences. As such, and being a member of the curriculum committee of the International Business and Languages (IBL) programme, she is responsible for the Intercultural Competence learning line in the IBL programme. At the same time, she is carrying out a PhD project into Assessing Intercultural Competence Outcomes for International Business. Joëlle started working for the IBL programme at Hogeschool Drenthe, now Stenden, in 2006, after working as a Spanish lecturer for various international programmes at the University of Groningen. She holds an M.A. in Romance Languages and Cultures from the University of Groningen, and worked in Spain and Costa Rica. Joëlle taught in Finland and Spain, and presented at various international conferences both in the Netherlands and abroad.


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