Cross Cultural Interaction

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Cross Cultural Interaction

Option A: Cross Cultural Interaction


A scholar of public administration writing in an issue of the American Society for Public Administration's PA Times points out that the immigrant population in the USA is about 12 percent of the total population (Franco, 2003). Together, minority populations in the USA (Hispanics, African Americans, Asian Americans, and others) represent some 30 percent of the total population and this figure is expected to approach 40 percent over the next two decades (US Census Bureau, 2000). Recently, the US Census Bureau released population estimates which show that four states (California, Hawaii, New Mexico, and Texas) and the District of Columbia are “majority- minority” -minorities make up more than half of the population and in 5 states (Arizona, Georgia, Maryland, Mississippi, and New York) minorities comprise at least 40 percent of the total population (US Census Bureau News, 2005a). Further, the total Hispanic population in the USA passed 41 million on July 1, 2004 and the Hispanic population has increased significantly in the non- traditional Hispanic states of Georgia, Iowa, Nevada, North Carolina, and South Carolina (US Census Bureau News, 2005b; US Census Bureau, 2000).

It is now a demographic reality that cultural diversity is a core part of the landscape of the United States. A much different mix of consumers, customers, clients and communities now exist in many more areas of the country. As a result, during a service delivery encounter between client or recipient and public agency provider there is an increased likelihood of an exchange occurring between individuals with different cultural backgrounds, beliefs, practices, and language-in many instances imposing a strain on public service delivery infrastructures (Franco, 2003). The dramatic population growth of immigrants and Hispanics, along with the diversity issue, in the United States population raises several important questions about the future role of public administration and the delivery of culturally appropriate and culturally responsive public programs and services in the post modern era of diversity. These questions focus on the central issue of cultural competency in public administration and public service delivery. Among these questions are: What is cultural competency in public programs and public service delivery? Can public agencies become culturally competent organizations? What is a cultural competency model for public administration and public service delivery? Do these questions point to the need for a “new” kind of public servant and public service agency provider- One who possesses explicit cultural competency skills to work with racial/ethnic and cultural/linguistic groups in the administration and delivery of public programs and public services. Why are these questions important in the post-modern era of public administration in the USA? This article addresses these questions and provides a framework for understanding the need for cultural competency in public administration and public service delivery. The article argues that cultural competency can enhance public administration and public service delivery normative values by increasing an agency's ability to work efficiently, effectively, and equitably in the context of cultural differences.

Understanding the concepts of culture and cultural competency in ...
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