The relationship between multicultural competence, foreign language mastery and international career aspirations.

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The globalisation of the business world has led to the re-evaluation of selection and hiring procedures of multinational corporations (MNCs). Valid documents are not sufficient to select the perfect candidate, because personality traits should also be acknowledged. The multicultural personality questionnaire (MPQ) measures these traits in order to assess multicultural competence. Another factor that seemed to contribute to the success of international assignments is the level of foreign language skills. Although Korzilius, Van Hooft, Planken and Hendrix (2011) reasoned that foreign language mastery (FLM) could predict multicultural competence, this study investigated the opposite assumption, namely the predictive value of multicultural competence on FLM, measured by the number of foreign languages spoken, the language proficiency and average grades. Besides the link and predictive value of the MPQ’s dimensions on FLM, the moderating effect of international career aspirations on this relationship was tested. Since speaking foreign languages was required to measure differences in high and low multicultural competence, an online survey was filled in by 111 Dutch high school students with extensive foreign language education. The results showed that the MPQ is a reliable instrument to measure multicultural competence. Contrary to expectations, the number of foreign languages was not correlated to the multicultural dimensions. However, the MPQ’s dimensions were indeed linked to English proficiency and language grades. The predictive value of multicultural competence only showed to be evident for English proficiency, which questioned the assumption that multicultural competence might predict FLM. More study is required to examine this assumption. Furthermore, international career aspirations were not found to have a moderating effect on the relationship between multicultural competence and FLM. Additional analyses showed that international ambition as independent factor predicted the number of foreign languages and correlated positively with language proficiency and average grades. The impact of international ambition could be further investigated in future research.
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