Cultural Literacy for Success

Globalization is a reality every organization, regardless of size, needs to become proficient in managing. There is no need arguing the reality globalization is the main trend impacting science, technology, education, and all other areas of human activity in the twenty-first century (Zolotareva & Mezhova, 2014). Hand in hand with organizations becoming more globally minded and adapted to globalization is the development of current employees and hiring new employees with cultural literacy.

Cultural literacy is a set of skills whereby employees can recognize the need to obtain, process, understand, and be responsive to cultural factors that are relevant to customers throughout many cultural contexts (Ewen, 2011). Since globalization is a reality for organizations to adapt to, encountering and working within different cultural contexts is a necessity. So, organizations not only need to employ individuals with cultural literacy, they need to embed cultural literacy as a norm in their organizational culture. This means developing the generic skills necessary for organizational effectiveness with a cultural edge (Ewen, 2011). Such generic skills that should be demonstrated and assessed in a range of cultural contexts are how information is obtained, how information is processed, and how information is responded to (Ewen, 2011). It is the use of information that determines the quality of cultural literacy within the organization, insuring it is obtained, processed, and responded to through a range of cultural lenses.

This is such a vital part of development for organizations, that the education system at the university level is beginning to shape curriculum around it. According to new educational standards of higher professional education, the most important task of the university is to help students develop competencies vital to successful professional and social life (Zolotareva & Mezhova, 2014); among these competencies is cultural literacy and the ability to engage cross culturally.


Ewen, S. C. ., (2011). Cultural literacy and Indigenous health in medical education. Focus on Health Professional Education, 13(1), 68–74.

Purcell-Gates, V., Lenters, K., McTavish, M., & Anderson, J. (2014). Working with Different Cultural Patterns & Beliefs. Multicultural Education, 21(3/4), 17–22.

Rogoff, B. (2003). The cultural nature of human development. Oxford [UK] ;a New York: Oxford University Press.

Zolotareva, S. A., & Mezhova, M. V. (2014). Developing General Cultural Literacy through Teaching English in a Russian University: Competence and Semiotic Approach. European Researcher, 71(3-2), 614–620.


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