Professional development in intercultural competence of academic and administrative staff in Latin American Higher Education Institutions

Dane Lukic, Maria Yarosh

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


With the growth of diversity and internationalisation in the higher education system and industry in the last few decades (University of Oxford, 2015), there has been an increased need for developing professional competence in organisations to deal with the benefits and challenges arising from intercultural encounters and work collaboration (Gregersen- Hermans, 2017). In order to successfully work and collaborate across different cultural domains and with people from diverse cultural backgrounds, a set of abilities for dealing with cultural diversity is required. These abilities, collectively termed intercultural competence (IC), enable effective studying, living and working across different cultural boundaries (Fantini, 2007). Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) are expected to provide students with the competence to deal with different cultures and use the cultural diversity of their surroundings as an advantage for innovation across the whole curriculum (Deardorff, 2015). Studies and our previous research experience reveal that academic and administrative staff in Latin American HEIs (LA HEIs) are particularly struggling to develop a solid level of IC themselves (Lukic & Solari, 2015; Berry & Taylor, 2014). Moreover, most professional development programmes appear to be focusing on limited diversity awareness programmes rather than transformative power of considering organisational diversity as a potential for innovation. LA HEIs have gone through a process of increased internationalisation with planned further rapid growth of intra-regional (de Wit, 2017) and international mobility (Berry & Taylor, 2014) by 2020. At the same time, there is a widespread movement towards widening access to students and staff coming from indigenous backgrounds. However, if not focused well, cultural diversity can create a lack of communication, conflicts, exclusion, project delays and lower quality of outputs. On the other hand, if managed well and with the appropriate level of IC, the diverse environment can provide for better and more innovative outputs, novel projects and discoveries coming from cultural boundary crossing. These recent changes and future projections highlight the need for activities tackling internationalisation capacity of LA HEIs.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2017


  • professional development
  • organisational learning
  • transformation


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