In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Cultural Intelligence

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Measurement of CQ
  • Unique Relevance of CQ to Intercultural Contexts
  • Antecedents of CQ
  • Consequences of CQ for Dyads, Teams, and Firms
  • Critiques of CQ
  • Publications for Practitioners

Management Cultural Intelligence
Linn Van Dyne, Soon Ang, Mei Ling Tan, Thomas Rockstuhl
  • LAST REVIEWED: 19 April 2024
  • LAST MODIFIED: 19 April 2024
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199846740-0115


Cultural intelligence (CQ) is the capability to function effectively in intercultural contexts, as discussed in Earley and Ang 2003 (cited under Conceptualization of Individual-Level CQ). CQ can refer to the capability of an individual, a team, or a firm. CQ is important for most individuals and organizations because the world is diverse, and contemporary organizations recognize the value of bridging cultures for both personal and organizational success. The introduction of CQ represents a marked research shift away from focusing on cultural differences to focusing on how to function effectively in situations characterized by cultural differences. CQ is theoretically precise about what is and is not part of its construct space. Rooted in the multiloci view of intelligence, the conceptualization of CQ comprises four factors: (1) metacognitive CQ (the mental capability to acquire and understand cultural knowledge), (2) cognitive CQ (knowledge about cultures, their similarities and differences), (3) motivational CQ (interest and confidence in functioning effectively in intercultural contexts), and (4) behavioral CQ (the capability to flex behaviors in intercultural interactions). By focusing on four factors, CQ offers a comprehensive and parsimonious framework that describes the domain of intercultural capabilities. Research on CQ has evolved rapidly along several themes. First, research shows the conceptual distinctiveness of CQ compared to other interpersonal intelligences and intercultural competencies. Research demonstrates that CQ is uniquely relevant to intercultural contexts, rather than monocultural contexts. Research also differentiates CQ from its antecedents, including personality traits and multicultural experiences. Second, a growing body of research documents the positive consequences of CQ for individuals, teams, and firms. In less than twenty years, the accumulating evidence of predictive and incremental validity has pushed CQ from a theoretical concept to a practical framework that organizations in over 150 countries have applied to global selection, training, and development. A third theme considers more complex CQ models. This research sheds light on mediators and moderators in the CQ nomological network. It also positions CQ within multiple levels of analysis. In this bibliography, we review major research studies on each of these important research streams. Some references appear in more than one category because they relate to multiple streams of research.

General Overviews

Several sources provide overviews of CQ. Ang and Van Dyne 2008 provides a concise and comprehensive guide for those interested in CQ research: it discusses the conceptualization, theory, and measurement of CQ, as well as its application across various disciplines. The handbook proposes a nomological network of CQ, describes initial tests of proposed relationships, and points the way forward for future research. Another review, Ang, et al. 2015, covers the historical background and evolution of CQ research. The authors discuss advances in CQ measurement—development of the multimedia intercultural situational judgment tests (iSJT), a performance-based CQ measure—and call for more research on measurement diversity of CQ, including the differential validity of alternative CQ measures. A review, Fang, et al. 2018 includes a section dedicated to qualitative research on CQ. Ang, et al. 2020 provides a comprehensive review of CQ that integrates the conceptualization, measurement, and empirical research on the nomological network of CQ at the individual, team, and firm level of analysis. The authors suggest ways to increase the progress of CQ research. Thomas and Liao 2023, an edited volume of contributions from international CQ scholars, discusses the conceptualization, measurement, antecedents, and outcomes of CQ.

  • Ang, Soon, and Linn Van Dyne, eds. Handbook of Cultural Intelligence. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 2008.

    An edited volume—comprising twenty-four chapters by a multinational group of authors—that establishes further construct validity for the CQ concept and extends its nomological network. Also discusses the application of CQ in multicultural teams and across disciplines, as well as other constructs that may be related to CQ.

  • Ang, Soon, Kok-Yee Ng, and Thomas Rockstuhl. “Cultural Intelligence.” In The Cambridge Handbook of Intelligence. 2nd ed. Edited by Robert J. Sternberg and Scott B. Kaufman, 820–845. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2020.

    A comprehensive review of CQ that integrates the conceptualization, measurement, and empirical research on the nomological network of CQ at the individual, team, and firm level of analysis. Highlights ways to broaden and deepen CQ research, including expanding conceptualizations of CQ to embrace biological loci and broader diversity markers, diversifying measurement of CQ, and broadening the nomological network of CQ at the team and firm levels.

  • Ang, Soon, Linn Van Dyne, and Thomas Rockstuhl. “Cultural Intelligence: Origins, Conceptualization, Evolution and Methodological Diversity.” In Advances in Culture and Psychology. Vol. 5. Edited by Michelle J. Gelfand, Chi-Yue Chiu, and Ying-Yi Hong, 273–323. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015.

    Covers the evolution of CQ research, starting from its roots and initial research on individual-level main effects to more recent research on complex and multilevel models. Discusses the complementary nature of alternative CQ measures, including self-report, informant-based, and performance-based measures (see also Measurement of CQ).

  • Fang, Fang, Vidar Schei, and Marcus Selart. “Hype or Hope? A New Look at the Research on Cultural Intelligence.” International Journal of Intercultural Relations 66 (2018): 148–171.

    DOI: 10.1016/j.ijintrel.2018.04.002

    Includes a review of fourteen qualitative studies conducted in different countries—including those in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and North America—in a range of contexts, including expatriation, offshoring, international service learning, multinational corporations, and peace operations.

  • Thomas, David C., and Yuan Liao, eds. Handbook of Cultural Intelligence Research. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, 2023.

    An edited volume—comprising twenty-seven chapters by a multinational group of authors—that takes stock of twenty years of CQ research and looks into the future of CQ research. Discusses the conceptualization, measurement, antecedents, and outcomes of CQ and considers the role of CQ at higher levels of analysis.

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