Accession Number:



Cross-Cultural Skills for Deployed Air Force Personnel: Defining Cross-Cultural Performance

Descriptive Note:


Corporate Author:


Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



Air Force leadership recognizes that the cross-cultural performance of Air Force members now plays a greater role in mission success than ever before. The Air Force therefore asked RAND to assist in developing a comprehensive program for preparing members of the Air Force in cross-cultural skills. RAND researchers responded by first creating a taxonomy covering all behaviors relevant to cross-cultural performance after a review of the literature and discussions with Air Force personnel. From this taxonomy, the researchers developed a framework of 14 categories of cross-cultural behaviors 9 categories of enabling behaviors and 5 categories of goal-oriented behaviors. Enabling behaviors help facilitate a variety of day-to-day activities and are likely to be needed in a variety of jobs. These categories are foreign language skills verbal and nonverbal communication skills social etiquette skills stress management in unfamiliar cultural settings behavior change to fit the cultural context gathering and interpreting observed information applying regional knowledge self-initiated learning and respecting cultural differences. Goal-oriented behaviors are associated with specific mission-related activities and are likely to be needed only by individuals working in certain Air Force Specialty Codes AFSCs. These categories are establishing authority influencing others negotiating with others establishing credibility, trust, and respect and resolving conflict. The importance of the 14 behavior categories for deployed performance was evaluated by surveying approximately 21,000 previously deployed airmen. Respondents also were asked to indicate how much training they had received. Recommendations for the design of a comprehensive program of cross-cultural training and education were made based on extensive analyses of the results, which included determining whether training needs differed by AFSC, grade enlistedofficer, and deployment location.

Subject Categories:

  • Sociology and Law
  • Linguistics
  • Psychology
  • Military Forces and Organizations

Distribution Statement: