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Cultural Intelligence (CQ) Assessment After-Action Report

The inability to measure the effectiveness of cultural training programs or predict future crosscultural performance has significant ramifications for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), including potential loss of life, loss of strategic gains, and the inability to measure the Return on Investment (ROI) for the billions of dollars spent on cultural training.

Some cultural training programs effectively improve cross-cultural competence and others do nothing or worsen an individual’s understanding. Some members of the armed forces are uniquely suited for a long-term career in specialty areas that require a high level of cross-cultural competence such as the Foreign Area Officer (FAO) Program or Special Operation Forces; others are less naturally suited for these Military Operational Specialties (MOS)s and would benefit from additional training.

The report that follows is the after-action report from the Cultural Intelligence Assessment Project commissioned by the Defense Language and National Security Education Office (DLNSEO). The Cultural Intelligence Assessment Project was designed as a first step toward understanding if and how the CQ Assessment can be used to meet the need across DoD for an empirical, academically valid way of measuring cross-cultural competence.

The project included assessing the cultural intelligence of up to 200 individuals, with the option to conduct a T1 (Time 1/Pre-Test) and T2 (Time 2/Post-Test) before and after 1 or more cultural training programs. The Cultural Intelligence Center worked with DLNSEO to identify test populations and training programs to assess using the Cultural Intelligence Self-Assessment.

Cultural intelligence (CQ) is the capability to relate and work effectively in culturally diverse situations. It goes beyond existing notions of cultural sensitivity and awareness to highlight a theoretically-based set of capabilities needed to successfully and respectfully accomplish objectives in culturally diverse settings.

Research on cultural intelligence, which to-date spans 98 countries and over 58,000 individuals, demonstrates those with cultural intelligence have skills in four capabilities.

  1. CQ Drive (motivation): Interest, drive, and confidence to adapt to multicultural situations [diplomatic mindset]
  2. CQ Knowledge (cognition): Understanding how cultures are similar and different [cultural learning]
  3. CQ Strategy (meta-cognition): Awareness and ability to plan for multicultural situations [cultural reasoning]
  4. CQ Action (behavior): Ability to adapt when working and relating interculturally [intercultural-interactions]

The CQ Assessment Project used the CQ Assessment with two groups: A group of 150 students at Ft. Bragg who were part of the qualifying program for Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations. And a mixed sample across DoD from a variety of contexts, including faculty and students at Air University, a civil military affairs group with the Army, and individuals from Special Forces.

The CQ Assessment Project provided preliminary insights for how to operationalize use of the CQ Assessment across DoD. In addition, the findings revealed areas where the participants were keenly prepared for cross-cultural work as well as highlighting areas where additional development is needed. The CQ Assessment Project with DLNSEO reinforced the need for an empirically rigorous, relevant tool for evaluating and improving cultural training programs and for assessing the cultural readiness of military personnel.