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What Is Cultural Agility? - Definition & Example

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  • 0:04 Culture
  • 0:41 Cultural Agility
  • 1:17 Culturally Agile Individuals
  • 2:09 Importance of Cultural Agility
  • 3:10 Cultural Agility Examples
  • 3:47 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson will define culture, cultural agility, and the traits culturally agile professionals share. It will also go over examples of how companies use cultural agility successfully.

Culture

Culture is a word that refers to the social norms, ideas, arts, beliefs, and other characteristics shared by a group of people in a set time and place. Because these characteristics can be very different among different groups of people, misunderstanding can quickly arise, and these misunderstandings can seriously hamper the efforts of a business to expand, grow, or operate in a new cultural landscape.

This is why cultural agility is so apropos; so what is cultural agility, and how do successful organizations and their staff employ it?

Cultural Agility

In the world of business, cultural agility refers to the ability of an organization and its members to understand, incorporate, and successfully work within and between multiple different cultural contexts and locations.

So what does this really mean? It means successful organizations must:

  • Understand their own culture and how it affects their business and personnel
  • Understand the culture of another organization, location, and people
  • Utilize this understanding for reaching successful business decisions in cross-cultural settings

Culturally Agile Individuals

Individuals who are experts in all of this have some common cultural agility attributes:

  • They have self-awareness. In other words, they understand their own strengths, weaknesses, behaviors, biases, and how all of those affect themselves and those around them.
  • They exhibit flexibility, meaning they can adapt to new cultures and expectations pretty quickly.
  • They are who they are. In other words, they don't pretend to be part of another entity's culture if they're not. Instead, they're ok with being different, but interact with a new culture in a respectable manner nonetheless.
  • They have a solid curiosity. They always want to learn about a different culture and even experience something new.
  • They objectively assess development. For example, they'll be honest about any biases they have and if they're moving past them.

Importance of Cultural Agility

The importance of cultural agility goes back hundreds, if not thousands of years. It's not a new phenomenon, but cultural agility is certainly becoming ever more important in a more interconnected world. Today, companies are able to access global markets and customers, as well as form international business collaborations more so than ever before. This creates the need to understand different cultural markets as well.

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