Can everyone work in an intercultural environment?

  • No, not everyone.
  • Yes, if they want to and are capable of doing it.
  • It depends.
  • All of the above.

Let’s look at London (and other cosmopolitan cities). I dare to assume that representatives of all nationalities live and work in that city. Shall we say B is the correct answer then? All people are able to adjust to the multicultural and diverse environment. London, among other places is great proof! Are they all successful though? Do they all benefit from the diversity? I dare to say ‘no’. 

The question should be rephrased to “Can everyone work and succeed in an intercultural environment?” A high number of people in fact do live and work abroad. However some create a little bubble that protects them from benefiting truly from their international experience. . Everyone has a different reason for moving abroad. To some, their little ‘home away from home bubble’ helps them to cope with being abroad. But those people shall be classified under the answer A. 

Frequently, those people are not open to change and adjust to the needs of local people and local market specifics. They simply don’t know much about it. Those people have a negative attitude to everything that is different from what they know. They may believe and follow stereotypes as their knowledge about others is not sufficient. They may be biased and convinced what they represent is the only way of… thinking, talking, working… Not only do they not benefit from diversity, not only do they feel miserable and homesick, they may also affect others.
People who do not benefit from international experience may be those who ignore the differences, who assume things will be the same as back home. They may cope with a new environment and even move forward as the time passes. However they may not gain as much satisfaction or joy out of it as they could if they were to acknowledge cultural differences and developed ways of functioning better in such a context.

Should we say B then? Yes, but only if they want to and are capable of doing it.

All people who truly want to succeed in an intercultural environment, and make an effort to develop a capability to function in various cultural contexts, will be able to do it. Such a competence is not present at birth but can be developed under a few conditions:

Condition #1: Willingness to acknowledge cultural differences; 
Condition #2: Willingness to learn about similarities and differences between cultures; 
Condition #3: Willingness to adapt and become aware of the outcomes of the modified behaviours. 

No one says it’s easy. However people who are truly motivated to succeed in cross-cultural environments know how much it takes to be effective and achieve their desired goals.
It depends then (C). It depends on our individual motivation, openness, self-awareness and commitment to hard work.
I will go for D then (all of the above). How about you?