Bicultural Competence - Definition and Explanation

Bicultural Competence – Definition and Explanation

Bicultural Competence


Bicultural competence refers to an individual’s ability to effectively navigate and engage with two or more cultures. It goes beyond mere tolerance or awareness of other cultures; rather, it involves a deep understanding and appreciation of the nuances, values, and communication styles inherent in each culture. Those who possess bicultural competence can seamlessly switch between cultures, adapt their behaviors and communication styles accordingly, and build meaningful connections across cultural divides.


In today’s globalised society, workplaces, educational institutions, and communities are becoming increasingly diverse. Bicultural competence fosters inclusivity, promotes collaboration, and enhances productivity in diverse settings. Moreover, it helps to mitigate misunderstandings, conflicts, and biases that may arise from cultural differences. By embracing bicultural competence, organisations and individuals can create environments where everyone feels valued, respected, and empowered to contribute their unique perspectives.


Imagine a multinational corporation based in London, where employees from various cultural backgrounds collaborate on a project. Sarah, a marketing manager, possesses bicultural competence due to her upbringing in both the UK and India. During a brainstorming session, Sarah notices that her British colleagues prefer direct communication and concise presentations, while her Indian counterparts value relationship-building and elaborate explanations.

Drawing on her bicultural competence, Sarah adjusts her communication style accordingly. She communicates clearly and concisely with her British colleagues, ensuring that meetings stay focused and efficient. At the same time, she takes the time to build rapport with her Indian colleagues, engaging in casual conversations and demonstrating empathy towards their perspectives.

As a result of Sarah’s bicultural competence, the team achieves greater cohesion and synergy. They leverage their diverse perspectives to develop a marketing campaign that resonates with global audiences, ultimately driving success for the company.


Bicultural competence is not merely a skill; it’s a mindset that fosters inclusivity, understanding, and collaboration in our increasingly diverse world. By embracing and cultivating bicultural competence, individuals and organisations can unlock the full potential of diversity, driving innovation, and creating environments where everyone can thrive. As we navigate the complexities of a globalised society, bicultural competence serves as a beacon of unity, bridging cultural divides and paving the way for a more harmonious future.


Hong, H. J. (2010). Bicultural competence and its impact on team effectiveness. International Journal of Cross Cultural Management, 10(1), 93-120.

LaFromboise, T. D., & Rowe, W. (1983). Skills training for bicultural competence: Rationale and application. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 30(4), 589.

Wei, M., Liao, K. Y. H., Chao, R. C. L., Mallinckrodt, B., Tsai, P. C., & Botello-Zamarron, R. (2010). Minority stress, perceived bicultural competence, and depressive symptoms among ethnic minority college students. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 57(4), 411.

Hendershot, Q. E., & Johnson, M. D. (2024). Dyadic bicultural competence: A new way of conceptualising patterns of cultural competence in close relationships. Journal of Family Theory & Review, 16(1), 87-105.

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