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The cognitive dimension of Global Mindset Development (GMD) is determined by 15 major factors. Most importantly are, cognitive complexity, cosmopolitanism, cognitive flexibility and global business knowledge.


Cognitive Complexity must be predominantly considered as a prerequisite needed to develop Global Mindset on an individual level. Its inherent aspects of simultaneously applying differentiation and integration as a basis of the ability to obtain a higher knowledge base needed to synthesize various environments are mainly determined by the intelligence of a manager. Therefore, the notion of cognitive complexity can be considered as a genetic predisposition. It is also about the way our brain process information and how much information they can handle at any given time. With respect to global mindset it means that there are many more variables to consider in decision making when working across cultures and global markets. A person with high cognitive complexity is someone who is not looking for easy, quick solutions to a problem. He or she understands that the world is little complicated. Someone with a high cognitive complexity is thoughtful, is curious, and asks a lot of questions before coming up with a solution. In contrast people with low cognitive complexity have a pocketful of solutions looking for problems. They are so quick. They may not even understand what the problem is, but in their mind, everything is simple because they do not have the capacity, the training, or the experience of understanding the complexity of the issue. It is a movement between critical and analytical thinking to reach synthesis.


Cognitive Flexibility is strongly connected to the notion of cognitive complexity. Thereby, cognitive flexibility is the central enabler needed to bring one’s complex thoughts into action. As a result, it can be stated that neither cognitive flexibility nor complexity have a sufficient effect on Global Mindset Development for themselves. If they are intertwined, however, they are a central part of it. Being able to think complexly and having the basic ability to apply this knowledge is central to learning and speaking foreign languages. As proven by empirical studies, speaking foreign languages is a central advantage in developing GM.


The final factor of the cognitive dimension is especially relevant to develop a GM in a global business environment. Based on a manager’s overall cognitive abilities and on the notion of cognitive complexity and flexibility, one has to develop a global business knowledge, acumen, savvy regarding the inherent connectivities and ambiguities of today’s globalized business environment. Following Beaman (2005), this knowledge is necessary to gain understanding of this environment. Nevertheless, this factor is written in parenthesis to make clear that, while business knowledge is an important factor in developing GM as a manager, the knowledge goal should be different when considering GMD in other fields, as for example politics.

As the notion of affective is strongly connected with the notion of emotional, it is necessary to clearly define the underlying definition used for this course. Psychological scientists emphasize the importance of emotions as they are significantly influencing a person’s thinking, actions and decision-making (Izard, 2010). The foundation of emotions can be basically identified in the individual value structure, the moral and ethical values and the fundamental understanding of the emotions’ meaning. Earley et al. (2007) describe individual emotional states as “…truly reflective of a person’s feelings” (Earley et al. 2007: 86). Thereby, it is important to underline that the individual emotional response is predominantly “culture-specific and context-based” (Konyu-Fogel, 2011: 68).

The emotional dimension is an important underlying aspect of the affective psychological state construct, which includes several components (Scherer/Ekman, 1984: 298). As Dekker (2016) describes, the affective dimension “…consists of the feelings or emotions that people have in relation to the attitude object” (Dekker, 2016: 71).

Within the affective dimension affective interpretation and affective response can be identified. While both are directly connected to the emotional dimension, the affective interpretation describes the emotional or feeling response which was triggered by a message (Konyu-Fogel, 2011: 68). The “…affective response addresses expressions of feelings, moods, emotions, and sympathetic nervous responses and verbal statements of affect” (Dekker 2016: 70)

As one of the underlying dimensions of Global Mindset development, in the context of this course, the affective dimension will refer to all components regarding to an individual’s feelings, emotions and the consequential affective responses. Topics to be analyzed are to be mindful, have emotional empathy which takes a lot of energy to work cross-culturally (willingness to engage). Furthermore, this affective level deals with appreciation for the diversity of peoples in our world and to encourage more and more people to strike up conversations and friendships with diverse others.

The affective dimension is central to apply one’s cognitive abilities in practice. Isolated, cognitive abilities are not enough to develop an individual Global Mindset. Rather, a manager must be capable to find the right mediums and actions needed to succeed in a global business environment. Having enough cognitive foundation, the following affective factors have to be developed in order to expand one’s degree of Global Mindset: (1) Openness (2) Curiosity and inquisitiveness, (3) Self-Awareness, (4) Self Efficacy

Openness is often referred to as part of cosmopolitanism (Cseh et al. 2013).

In the context of this course openness nevertheless will be defined as an independent factor. On the one hand, cosmopolitanism cannot be defined precisely and cannot be classified as either affective or cultural (Boyacigiller et al. 2004). On the other hand, the importance of openness is too essential to be integrated into a broader term. Emotional openness is the key to find excitement in dealing with uncertain and new environments and to approach differentiating context without fear or defensiveness (Pobát 2012: 159). Therefore, openness can, without any doubt, be classified as one of the central foundations of Global Mindset Development.

To be integrated into this course, the notion of curiosity/inquisitiveness has to be defined clearly. In this context, I recommend combining the definitions of Konyu-Fogel (2011) and Terrel/Rosenbusch (2013b) and describe curiosity as the desire to learn about new things. As a result, curiosity is the essential factor which must be added to a general openness in order to develop a Global Mindset. Curiosity enables a manager to not only be open towards new environments or cultures but to want to engage with and to foster his interest in and understanding of them.

Nevertheless, to develop a Global Mindset and to lead effectively in differentiating contexts the notion of self-awareness is another central factor. In addition to openness and curiosity, which allow an individual to approach the unknown openly and without fear, self-awareness is necessary to be able to understand the effects of your own actions and emotions and to assess your own strength and weaknesses (Beechler/Baltzley 2008: 48). As Egel and Fry (2017) underline, building up self-awareness is an exhausting process due to the intensive confrontation with your individual weaknesses (Egel/Fry 2017: 10). However, having self-awareness is an indispensable factor needed to develop GM on an individual level.

To integrate all those affective factors into a coherent dimension of GM the factor self-efficacy is the key. Sometimes referred to as part of psychological capital (Vogelsang et al. 2014: 169), I want to detach it from this notion and to integrate it in this process model as an independent factor. In this context, self-efficacy is the enabler needed to not only have the openness and interest towards new thing and contexts as well as understanding your own peculiarities but being able to combine them and the aforementioned cognitive factors in order to act and lead effectively in new environments.

To define the notion of cultural regarding Global Mindset Development (GMD) it is primarily necessary to clarify the terminology culture itself.

As one of the most renowned researchers in this field, Geert Hofstede defines culture as “…the collective programming of the mind that distinguishes the member of one group or category of people from another” (Hofstede et al., 2010: 6).

Regarding this definition which is referring to the terminology of culture in a collective perspective Earley et al. (2007) refine Hofstede’s definition by describing culture as the “…patterned ways of thinking, feeling, and reacting to various situations and actions” (Earley et al. 2007: 76).

On a collective level, culture is mainly maintained by symbols and, as its basic function, represents a society’s core in relation to its institutions and practices (Earley et al., 2007: 76). The importance of practices or symbols as representation of culture is supported by Dekker (2016). Additionally, Dekker (2016) defines the collective which is sharing a culture “…as people who share common values, history or physical conditions”. Following his definition, culture itself determines the social interaction and the construction of meaning within the above-mentioned collective. (Dekker 2016: 67 f.)


On an individual level, Hofstede defines culture as the “software of mind”. Beechler and Javidan (2007) are adding a connection to the behavioural and cognitive dimensions by defining culture as “…the cognitive systems and behavioural repertoires that are shaped as a result of individuals’ experiences” (Beechler/Javidan 2007: 143). Beside this experience related definition of culture on an individual level, Hofstede emphasizes that culture is always derived from the surrounding social environment instead of being a genetically inherited predisposition.

As a result, culture is learned, not innate. (Hofstede et al. 2010: 6)


Referring to culture from an interconnecting perspective, cultures can be defined as differentiating contexts which result in confusion or uncertainty when entering a cultural envi-ronment different from your home culture (Bhagat et al., 2007: 193f).


As the cultural dimension is predominantly classified as one of the central aspects of Global Mindet development based on its influence on social structure and practices as well as on constituting an overarching mental framework, the notion of culture will be defined broadly in this course (Earley et al. 2007: 76f. and Dekker 2016: 67).

As a result, the underlying notion of cultural on an individual level can be defined as one’s own way of thinking, feeling, and reacting on the foundation learned and formed by interaction within one’s social environment and in distinction from other, differentiating, contexts.

The cultural dimension consists of four factors, which have become clear during the literature research: (1) knowledge about cultural differences, (2) cross-cultural interaction, (3) cultural self-awareness, (4) cultural intelligence.


Primarily, knowledge about cultural differences is the cultural counterpart of the cognitive factor business knowledge. To develop a GM (Global Mindset), it is essential to have in-depth knowledge of other cultures (Kedia/Mukherji 1999: 238). In the context of this course, cultural knowledge can be combined with the factors of cognitive flexibility and self-efficacy to not only be knowledgeable, but to combine those factors to truly be capable of understanding the challenges one faces when dealing with people from differentiating backgrounds and being able to anticipate the effect of one’s own actions.


Practically using the cultural knowledge connects to the factor cross-cultural interactions. On the one hand, this refers to all cross-cultural interactions within the professional environment as being able to work cross-culturally is broadly assessed to be a major step to-wards global mindset Development (GMD) (Ananthram/Chatterjee 2004: 7). Thereby lies the focus on cross-cultural team-work.

In my opinion, to be used to work in such cross-cultural teams a global mindset is not sufficient, but rather, again using the antecedent factors openness and curiosity, to valuing at and to working with all colleagues as equals without any bias regarding their cultural background. On the other hand, the factor cross-cultural interactions should describe in-teractions someone has made without or only sparsely being able to actively choose to make them. This especially relates to the cultural background someone was born. While the literature often refers to this within the notions of behaviour or experiences (Javidan et al. 2010: 113), I rather suggest classifying this as a cultural subfactor of GMD.

As Konyu-Fogel has empirically proven, being raised in a multi-ethnic family is a major advantage in developing a GM (Konyu-Fogel 2011: 175). Combining this with the factor self-awareness, it could prefigure that someone being used to live between differentiating cultures and being capable of reflecting his interactions could, early in his live, begin to develop a GM.

This inference is further integrated into the factor cultural-self-awareness. This factor can be described as the advancement of the affective factor self-awareness into the cultural dimension.


Detached from other models as (global) emotional intelligence (Rhinesmith 2003: 219–225), in the context of this course, cultural self-awareness is defined by the aforementioned definition of cultural self-awareness being “…akin to the moment in which assumptions are challenged and the world takes on new meaning” (Clapp-Smith 2009: 35).


The last factor, cultural intelligence, is the final step towards GMD. Inspired by Clapp-Smith (2007), the term cultural intelligence is understood as the capability to integrate the cognitive, affective and behavioural dimensions to be capable of acting in differentiating cultural contexts and using trigger moments to further increase the individual degree of GM.

There is a connection between cognitive processes and the action resulting from them. This connection is further explained by Earley et al. as they are defining behaviour as the “translation of cognitive perspectives […] into effective action” (Earley et al. 2007: 88). More generally, they describe the behavioural dimension as the behaviours in which an individual is engaging (Earley et al. 2007: 88). Dekker approves to the context regarding the cognitive dimensions, but adds an additional, broader aspect to this dimension by defining the behavioural component as the actions or readiness to behave towards a certain attitude object. This attitude object could be a cognitive aspect (concerning the above-mentioned aspects of cognition) as well as an affective one (resulting from individual feelings and emotions) (cf. Dekker 2016: 70). The sum of all individual behaviours can be explained as the behavioural repertoire which includes the “responses needed for a given situation” (Earley et al. 2007: 88). Besides the mentioned underlying explanations for and definitions of behaviour, Ramsey et al. differentiate between external and social forms of behaviour. They classify external behaviour, on the one hand, as verbal and non-verbal, and on the other hand, social forms of behaviour as interpersonal and interactional (cf. Ramsey et al. 2017: 463). Caliguiri relates behaviour to the notion of tasks, which she defines as “behaviourally based activities” (Caligiuri 2006: 220).

Constituting the basis of the following literature review the behavioural dimension is defined as the set of all action and tasks regardless of their underlying motivation. Furthermore, all task- and action-related experiences will be considered.

The self-management level is of enormous importance for a global leader with a global mindset. This is about which strategies the manager uses to cope psychologically with the task. Of course, this includes self-confidence about one’s own strengths and weaknesses. But also your own self-reflection is essential to continue growing as a person and to know how someone works interculturally and how the behavior influences other employees or subordinates. For this, someone must also be able to criticize and should draw energy from it to improve. This also means the ability to self-regulate in the event of a conflict and to strike a balance between work and private life. The manager’s question should be answered. How do I appear to others? What self-concept do I have? What can I expect to achieve and implement? Do I have a positive impact on others?

In addition, there are specific activities such as building a global or multicultural team, skills in leading a global virtual team and influencing different interest groups with different power potential in foreign countries. Global leadership is defined as “… leadership of people who are located in several regions of the world.” Global leaders have to engage with very different groups of stakeholders and colleagues to get things done. They guide people across distances, cultures, time zones and in complex organizational structures such as a matrix or even a networked organizational structure. Global leaders need to develop a good understanding of where there is value in being universal and where it is better to be local (e.g. global-local dilemma). You need the flexibility of leadership style to lead people with different expectations of leadership, but also resilience and authenticity. To be a global leader is a big step in complexity, and people need to develop the mindset and skills required to succeed in this complex VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity) environment.

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