About the Chair
We, as the Department for Intercultural Communication, see ourselves as intermediary between different living and working environments, which are to be confirmed, connected and put into a systematic context.
Building bridges: Intercultural Communication at the University of Passau
Intercultural communication and intercultural management have enjoyed great popularity since the 1980s. Interculturality is a topic of increasing relevance. Cultural borders are crossed and intercultural bridges are built every day.
Commitment to and understanding of cultural differences are the prerequisites for a peaceful coexistence and harmonious and appropriate cooperation in an increasingly internationalising and thus 'interculturalising' world. Whenever people with different cultural backgrounds meet, it can lead to irritation and misunderstanding.
Not only societies and organisations, but also the academic community is concerned with interculturality. It seeks to provide explanations and guidance to understand and explain cultural diversity, as well as to benefit from it in complementary ways. The development of intercultural competence is of key importance. It contributes to a better understanding of how the people we interact with are characterised by our own culture as well as foreign cultures, and to develop and implement skills for successful interaction. The objective is to harness the synergy potentials of intercultural interactions.
At the Chair of Intercultural Communication, we see ourselves as builders of bridges between different work and life environments and different cultural levels, which must be grounded, classified in systemic contexts and brought together.
process that can be divided into three phases:
- 1. Emotional phase
Awareness of the relativity of values, sensations and ways of thinking and behaving
- 2. Cognitive phase
Extension of knowledge and understanding of the functions of cultural systems
- 3. Action phase
Adapting behaviour in intercultural situations to achieve goals more easily
The Passau three-level model of intercultural competence
For us, intercultural communication takes place, on the one hand, in and between social systems, which can be allegorised in a three-level interconnected model.
On the other hand, we consider intercultural communication as context-oriented, i.e. besides cultural elements, specific reference must also be made to institutions, strategies and the interests of the individual stakeholders.
Micro level ≙ Individuals (personality and competences)
The micro level of intercultural communication research concerns interpersonal communication and contact between individuals who have internalised different cultural orientation and reference systems and may thus exhibit different patterns of interpretation and behaviour. Intercultural competence is developed at the micro level, for example, through intercultural training and coaching, and is the prerequisite for constructive interaction with one another.
Our Chair’s interest lies especially in interculturality in organisational contexts. People act in specific contexts that are often characterised by practical constraints or constellations of interests and power. Here, divergent expectations of roles and behaviour patterns in the context of leadership and teamwork meet in a multicultural environment. The quality and success of interactions between individuals depend on the adequate interpretation of culturally different behaviour.
The Chair of Intercultural Communication explores and teaches forms and methods for the development of intercultural competence.
Meso level ≙ Organisations (Organisational Culture and International Transfer)
Intercultural communication and interaction often take place in or between groups, international teams or organisations. Organisations develop specific values as well as forms of thinking and behaviour, which is also referred to as organisational culture. This culture includes identity-forming values, norms and rules.
Organisations offer an important research context. Due to international transfer and their particular power structures, they are exposed to constant change and development processes that can contribute to the formation of a new, third culture – an 'interculture'. Accordingly, the focus lies on the intercultural integration of different systems.
The Chair of Intercultural Communication examines and compares forms of intercultural organisational development, cultural transfer and intercultural negotiation processes in organisations, as well as the influence of organisations on intercultural interaction in migration contexts.
Macro level ≙ Societies (Economic Systems and Business Styles)
Social systems influence and structure intercultural communication and interaction at the macro level in our model. Social and economic systems represent the main historical and institutional basis for the formation and development of culture, upon which specific business styles emerge.
Specific social, political and economic institutions (states, companies, interest groups, educational systems) as well as cultural institutions (such as values, norms and behaviour patterns) that serve as orientation and reference systems develop within individual cultural spheres, for example, France or China.
However, cultural spaces and their social and economic systems are not hermetically sealed monocultures. They are confronted with cultural transfer and transformation processes that contribute to cultural diversity and multiculturalism within the system and bring new challenges.
The Chair of Intercultural Communication analyses the interrelations of the respective cultural context with social and economic systems.