Intercultural Sensitivity of Chinese Professionals
in international tourism industry

Research abstract -

  • International tourism is one of the world’s largest industries where people from different cultural backgrounds meet together. Intercultural Sensitivity (IS) is the ability to discriminate and experience relevant cultural differences (Hammer et al, 2003). To reveal comprehensive and culturally sensitive models of IS, research from non-western perspectives is indispensable. Using an indigenous approach, Panggabean (2004) showed that there are cultural specific characteristics in dealing with cultural differences in German-Indonesian workgroups. In compare with Indonesia, China represents an Asian culture which culture diversity relatively homogeny and its international exposures increase rapidly.
  • Our research aims at discovering the indigenous intercultural sensitivity of the Chinese people working in the international tourism industry. Qualitative in-depth interviews were conducted, 32 Chinese professionals (general manager, tour guide etc.) from the industry took a part. Interview data was fully transcribed and then analyzed using grounded theory approach and atlas.ti software. The results demonstrated that Chinese IS exhibits particular characteristics, which reflects the uniqueness of the Chinese culture. Harmonized differences, host-friendliness, learning, flexibility and relationship orientation as well as the push (value) and pull (goals) factors are the central characteristics of the Chinese IS. Based on these findings, a generic model of Chinese Intercultural Sensitivity will be introduced and discussed.

Key words –
Intercultural Sensitivity, Indigenous Psychology, Grounded Theory, International Tourism

Model of Chinese Intercultural Sensitivity –

Summary of key results -    

 

  • The results demonstrated that Chinese Intercultural Sensitivity (IS) exhibits particular characteristics, which reflects the uniqueness of the Chinese culture. Five dimensions as well as the push (value) and pull (goals) factors were identified as the central characteristics of the Chinese IS: Differences Harmonization, Relationship Optimization, Change Accommodation, Cultures Comprehension and Ethno Identification.
  • Three of the five dimensions reflected the behavioral dimension of the Chinese IS (Differences Harmonization, Relationship Optimization, Flexibility), the two others the cognitive (Cultures Comprehension) and affective dimension (Ethno Identification). The Pull factors are the future and the Push factors the past components of the Chinese IS.
  • The five dimensions of the Chinese Intercultural Sensitivity show the uniqueness of the Chinese IS characteristics in contemporary China. It point out the strong cultural identity of the Chinese in dealing with others, while they do have high needs on knowing more about them. It indicates the different behavioral strategies the Chinese have in dealing with culture differences such as harmonizing, accommodating and focusing on the relationship optimization.