Cross Cultural Competences and Management (in English)

llsms2065  2019-2020  Louvain-la-Neuve

Cross Cultural Competences and Management (in English)
Note from June 29, 2020
Although we do not yet know how long the social distancing related to the Covid-19 pandemic will last, and regardless of the changes that had to be made in the evaluation of the June 2020 session in relation to what is provided for in this learning unit description, new learnig unit evaluation methods may still be adopted by the teachers; details of these methods have been - or will be - communicated to the students by the teachers, as soon as possible.
5 credits
30.0 h

At the end of this learning unit, the student is able to :


The course is designed to develop cross-culturally competent and responsible leaders. The central aim of this course is to develop the student capacity to understand and analyse management situations that (European) international organisations face with regard to cross-cultural management and leadership. The course will focus on the impact of culture on individuals, teams and organisations; it will explore options how to deal with cultural issues in a responsible way and still be efficiently and effective in the business context and it will help the students to develop themselves in the context of their own cultural backgrounds.

At the end of the course, students should be able to:

  1. Gain a deep understanding of the nature of cultures, the theoretical concepts and frameworks used to identify and highlight similarities and differences across cultures and increase awareness of the impact of culture on individuals (especially on yourself!), teams and international organisations and appreciation for diverse cultural backgrounds.
  2. Apply these theories and frameworks to understand and diagnose critical cross-cultural interaction situations (critical incidents) and to make effective cultural attributions. 
  3. Adopt a critical point of view on the literature, on the one hand, and on managerial attributions and decisions in cross-cultural contexts, on the other.
  4. Improve the ability and competence to work in, interact with and lead across different cultures.
  5. Increase your awareness of the economic, social, environmental and ethical issues related to globalisation and improve your skills to deal with cultural paradoxes and ethical dilemmas.

The contribution of this Teaching Unit to the development and command of the skills and learning outcomes of the programme(s) can be accessed at the end of this sheet, in the section entitled “Programmes/courses offering this Teaching Unit”.
Working with people for other cultural backgrounds has become part of the daily activities in organizations today for employees at all levels. The global pressure for competitiveness and effectiveness has increased the number of strategic alliances, mergers and acquisitions, with the objective of having access to resources, capital and new market opportunities. People who have never met each other need to work together in multicultural virtual teams.
It is no longer sufficient, that managers are able to communicate effectively and work with people from one culture and that they understand and learn how to adapt to this particular culture. Instead, managers must interact simultaneously and effectively with people in multiple cultures or with a poly-cultural background.
This course is based on research and insights from diverse disciplines, including cross-cultural psychology, social psychology, cultural anthropology, organizational behavior, international human resource management, business ethics and corporate social responsibility.
The following themes are examples of what will be addressed in this course:
  • Understanding and analyzing cultural differences and the impact of culture on organizations, teams, individuals;
  • Applying culture theories and frameworks in the business context;
  • Culture learning and (self-)development of cross-cultural competence and a 'global mindset';
  • Communicating effectively across cultures;
  • Cultural adjustment and training of expatriates;
  • Diversity: concept and challenges
  • Acting responsibly in the global arena and coping with ethical and cultural dilemmas.
Teaching methods
Different teaching methods will be used such as lecture input, case analysis, guided readings, group discussions and guest speakers. Hence, students are required to prepare the courses and to contribute as actively as they can within the course setting. We expect you to prepare the required readings and cases (see course schedule) before class in order to be able to contribute in a competent way to the discussions and exercises.
Evaluation methods
The evaluation or assessment methods of the course are linked to the knowledge, attitude and behavioral objectives of the course and emphasize group performance.
The assessment of your performance in this course is composed of the following individual and group-related elements:
  1. Final group project and presentation (10/20)
  2. Individual reflection paper (6/20)
  3. Group participation (‘culture in context’ presentation), individual participation and performance (4/20)
1. Final group project and presentation (10/20):
As learning how to work collaboratively in cross-cultural teams is one of the objectives of the course, your group project and presentation will account for 50% of your grade. It is expected that students do a research regarding a cross-cultural issue of their choice. Students will have to provide a report on the state of the art on the chosen topic. Students will present their research in a class session, and provide their report to the teacher in charge of assessing this project. Both the presentation and the report will be assessed. You will have the choice between three different options:
1.1 Interview assignment: Your group will make interviews with expatriate managers about their experiences abroad and interpret your results critically in the context of cultural theories and concepts:
    1. Your team develops an interview questionnaire based on the literature and your interests (a sample questionnaire will be provided to you)
    2. Each team member interviews 1-2 expatriate managers (person who has lived at least 5 months abroad and was sent by a company (‘headquarters’) to a subsidiary abroad
    3. Integrate the interview results, write up a paper on your topic and interpret your results critically in the context of cultural theories and concepts
    4. Add a transcript of each interview to your appendix
    5. Present your results to the course
  1. 1.2 Theme-based project: Your group will do a conceptual project based on cross-cultural research and provide a report on the state of art on a cross-cultural topic (a ‘review’).
  2. Focus on one particular cross-cultural issue that you are interested in (e.g. women managers on international assignments; cultural intelligence, expatriate preparation and training)
  3. Conduct a systematic search of the academic literature on the topic (choose keywords, databases etc.)
  4. Write up a paper by synthesizing and critiquing articles on the topic (what are your recommendations to managers?)
  5. Present your results to the course
    1.3 Video analysis project: Your team will choose one or several movies or video clips, watch it, use course concepts and academic literature to analyze it, identify underlying cultural issues and write up a paper about it.
a. Film/video can be a blockbuster movie (e.g. Lost in Translation, My Big Fat Greek Wedding), documentaries or training videos (e.g. Doing business in the US), if possible choose a business context
  1. You can choose a comparative or intercultural perspective
  2. Write a paper about your analysis and interpret your results critically in the context of cultural theories and concepts
  3. Present your results to the course
Group composition: Sign up as a group for one of the group themes and prepare a presentation that will be presented during the semester in groups of 4-5 students. Submit a group paper of max. 20 pages (excluding references and bibliography) in English (Times New Roman, 12pt. fond, 1.5 line spacing).
Team grades: Members of one team receive the same marks on their presentation and group participation except when team members ask that the final grade is going to be differentiated and not equally distributed. In this case, the team members have to agree within their group on the distribution of points (in %) and let me know about this before the final presentation.
Plagiarism: Please note that full and correct referencing is expected for all of your written assignments, including presentation slides, and will be checked. If you have any questions about correct referencing, please contact the Professor. Plagiarism will be dealt with very strictly.
2. Individual reflection paper (6/20):
Discover the complexity of your own cultural background and context. Use the theories and concepts from the literature to answer the questions on your own culture and to reflect on yourself as a member of this culture. You are supposed to apply the readings used in the course and also search for further readings (academic journal articles) to provide a rich reflection. You have two options for a paper of about 8 pages:
  1. 2.1 Describe an intercultural experience (e.g. semester abroad, internship in another country):
    1. Use frameworks and concepts from the course to analyse what has happened and why
    2. If you have been to different countries for a longer period of time (not for a vacation but for school, study or work purposes), you can compare your experiences
  2. 2.2 Describe an intercultural immersion experience (e.g. sub-culture within your country):
  4. a. Idea is that you had little or no previous contact to this new (sub-)culture
  5. b. Immerse into the new culture at least for a day
  6. c. Use frameworks and concepts from the course to analyse what has happened and why
  7. d. Test your intercultural skills and write about your experiences and how you coped with the situation (what happened, why etc.)
  9. Important deadline: Deadline for the individual reflection paper is May 17th. Please note that points will be deduced from your grade for late submission. One point for the first day, 2 points for the second and 0 points will be given from the third day onwards after the deadline. Please upload the paper on Moodle.
  11. 3. Group participation (‘culture in context’ presentation), individual participation and performance (4/20):
Preparing the course and active participation of every student is important for your learning and success in this course. Therefore, 20% of your grade will be for participation in terms of quality and quantity. You can individually and collectively contribute to the course by showing that you
  • Have read the assigned readings,
  • Can make connections between different readings/concepts,
  • Can contribute with good quality comments to group discussions
  • Are willing and able to participate actively in case analysis and exercises.
  • Doing a good ‘Cultures in context’ presentation.
    The ‘Cultures in context presentation’: Your group will present in one of the courses (see schedule) a cultural region of your choice (7 cultural regions can be chosen), based on a CEMS book chapter. Make it brief 10-15 min. presentation – what are the key issues you find most interesting? Please prepare three questions for discussion. You can include examples/exercises from the book to facilitate discussion.
    If the number of students is too large for individual marking, the participation mark will be given collectively by student teams but grades can be adjusted for particularly (non-)performing students. Please note that attendance is required to the course. You can miss one course (please let us know before).
    Important deadlines: Groups must register on Moodle by March 28th. The presentation date for your culture in context presentation is on April 23rd (submission of slides April 22nd, 8am) and for your group work on May 14th (submission of slides May 13th, 8am). Please note that points will be deduced from your grade for any late submission. One point for the first day, 2 points for the second and 0 points will be given from the third day onwards after the deadline. May 17th: Submission of individual reflection paper. May 31st: Submission of group project paper
The evaluation or assessment criteria of the course are linked to the knowledge, attitude and behavioral objectives of the course.
Group project and presentation (10/20):
  • Clear structure and coherence
  • Accuracy of applying theories and concepts
  • Quality of the analysis
  • Form, style, spelling and grammar (including full and correct referencing!)
  • Team performance
  • Cross-cultural awareness, sensitivity and appreciation
    Individual reflection paper (6/20):
  • Ability to apply culture theories and concepts to reflect on yourself/your observations
  • Cultural awareness
  • Ability to cope with new cultural situations or ability of analysing and explaining situations ex-post
    Participation and performance (4/20):
  • Knowledge (ability to reproduce and apply academic knowledge)
  • Reflection (ability to make connections between concepts and to (self-)reflect
  • Quantity and quality of preparations of and contributions to every course
  • Quality of the “Culture in context” presentation
    Course failure: If you do not succeed the group assessment during the semester, there will be an individual project paper to be written for the next exam session. In this case, please contact the Professor immediately after the announcement of the grades to define a project topic.
The University’s general guidance for students on plagiarism and cheating can be found at and .
Other information
The number of places in this course is restricted. The course is compulsory for IB students.
Course support:
  • course material and slides are uploaded on Moodle;
  • required and further readings are uploaded on Moodle.
  • student’s notes taken in the course or during course preparation,
  • library resources (hard copies of cross-cultural literature, rich online resources (e-journals) via electronic (a list of relevant journals will be provided to you).
    Please note that consulting webpages via internet search machines will often NOT provide you with the quality material and information that you are expected to use in this course.
Faculty or entity

Programmes / formations proposant cette unité d'enseignement (UE)

Title of the programme
Master [120] : Business Engineering

Master [120] : Business Engineering

Master [120] in Management

Master [120] in Management