Cross-Cultural Skills for Deployed Air Force Personnel
Defining Cross-Cultural Performance
Published Apr 16, 2009
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Because of its strong interest in providing airmen with the cross-cultural skills that have grown ever more essential to successful mission accomplishment in foreign environments, the Air Force asked RAND to provide a foundation for the design of a comprehensive Air Force program of cross-cultural training and education. RAND researchers responded by first creating a taxonomy covering all behaviors relevant to cross-cultural performance after the need for such a taxonomy became evident from a review of the literature on cross-cultural performance and discussions with Air Force personnel. From this taxonomy, the researchers developed a framework of 14 categories of cross-cultural behaviors — nine categories of enabling behaviors and five of goal-oriented behaviors. This framework was then used in designing a survey for 21,000 recently deployed airmen that asked them to rate the importance of the behaviors to their deployed performance and the helpfulness of training they had received in the behaviors (both over their careers and just prior to deployment). Respondents were also asked to indicate how much training they had received. Recommendations and suggestions for the design of a comprehensive program of cross-cultural training and education and for further research steps were made based on extensive analyses of the results, which included determining whether training needs differed by AFSC, grade (enlisted/officer), and deployment location.