An Intercultural Counsel provides advice to organizations and individuals on matters arising from cultural differences of all kinds, be they differences most closely related to nationality, locality, ethnicity, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, profession or role, etc., as human culture is essentially multi-layered. The cultural diversity knowledge base includes observed differences in organizational cultures, but does not include differences in individual personalities. The descriptive approach is comparative, applying several different theoretical frameworks developed by intercultural researchers over the last half century to deal with an infinitely complex field. The objective of such research and the expertise arising from it is to become more aware of such differences and their nature and consequences, and then use the awareness achieved to transfer the knowledge to others, explain events or situations, to minimize or mitigate any conflicts arising from interactions involving cultural differences, and to develop personal, group and organizational intercultural competencies to increase personal performances and collaborative processes and results.
The ability to cooperate with others of differing cultural norms, values, mindsets and behaviors is dependent upon the intercultural competencies of the relating parties. Such competencies are in turn dependent upon individual intercultural intelligence, involving both interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligence. Socio-psychological tests have been developed to measure IIQ or Intercultural Intelligence Quotients. Individual assessments are used to custom design programs for individual and groups to develop further intercultural competencies.
As Legal Counsel provide legal advice, Intercultural Counsel provide intercultural and cross-cultural advice. The field has grown in concert with globalization. Most large organizations operating internationally or globally in the private sector now retain Intercultural Counsel for specialized strategy design setting policies to develop intercultural competencies throughout their organizations, as it is now specifically recognized that intercultural competencies have a vital role to play in strategy executions of all kinds. Private sector organizations indirectly account for the value added to their organizations by cumulative intercultural competencies within the brand value and other intangible asset categories on their balance sheets, and in turn such accounting has an effect on shareholder values.
This monetary recognition of private sector value creation has increased the number of intercultural consulting practitioners, especially in North America, Europe and Scandinavia. It has led to expansion of service to the public sector - government departments and agencies and non-profit organizations. It has also led to increasing specialization within the field of practice, as the effects of intercultural competencies on specific operations and relationships of organizations, such as human capital management, supply-chain management, customer relationship management, marketing, shareholder relations, government relations and public relations, become the focus of intercultural research. Much of the research is now conducted by the graduate business schools of leading Universities throughout the world.