A MOTIVATIONAL ANALYSIS OF THE IMPACT OF CULTURE ON COMMUNICATION COMPETENCE AMONG AUSTRALIAN, SINGAPOREAN AND MALAYSIA UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS
 
Goh, W.P., Nanyang Technological University and Tan, K.L., Agency for Science, Technology and Research, Singapore and Gordon, J. and Mackintosh, B., The University of Western Australia, Australia
 
In order to prepare students to become competent in intercultural communication, and function effectively in an interconnected and culturally diverse world, education practitioners need to understand the interaction patterns of individuals from different cultural backgrounds. In this study, the expectancy theory of motivation was used to examine cultural differences in communication competence. That is, why some communication strategies are considered appropriate and effective in one culture but not in another. Specifically, the perceptions of ethnic Chinese Singaporeans and Malaysians, and Australian students were considered using naturalistic settings. The results indicated that the communication patterns of these students were culturally motivated - the Australian students subscribed to values that promoted equality, individuality, informality and directness. As such, they preferred relationships based on equal standings, and were more likely to challenge status and authority. As such, they adopted a more a casual and relaxed form of communication, which included direct and sarcastic humor, and frank and laconic expression of feelings and opinions. In contrast, the Chinese students placed high importance in respecting socially recognized hierarchical differences, the preservation of group harmony, the view of the self as an extension of others in the in-group, conforming to formal social rules, and achieving publicly acknowledged social status and success. Accordingly, these students tended to voice their opinions only when they were perceived to be higher in status or age, and acted in accordance to their formal roles or to avoid conflict. In light of this, recommendations for competent intercultural conduct specific to each cultural group are proposed.