Intercultural competence in marketing and sales recruitment advertising (evidence from Austria and Sweden)


  • Darko Pantelic Jönköping University, Jönköping International Business School, Jönköping, Sweden
  • Emilia Florin Samuelsson Jönköping University, Jönköping International Business School, Jönköping, Sweden
  • Peter Brandstätter University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria, School of Business & Management, Steyr, Austria



intercultural competences, recruitment advertising, future skills, marketing, sales, business schools, curriculum development


The Background: The globalization of the business world and the ongoing internationalization of many organizations have profound consequences for societies and economies. National economies, the Austrian and Swedish being the examples in this study, are globally intertwined and export dependent. When businesses search for opportunities outside national borders, employees will engage with diverse groups of stakeholders while conducting daily business and pursuing organizational goals. Additionally, due to migrations, the available workforce is becoming increasingly diverse. Business schools have an obligation to educate graduates who are "ready for life." To stay relevant, business programs, specifically in marketing and sales, need to deliver not just subject-specific knowledge but also give students the chance to increase their intercultural competence.
Purpose: This study contributes to the discussion on business schools’ role in improving students’ intercultural competences and the necessity to align learning outcomes with future market needs.
Study design/methodology/approach: The content analysis of 240 qualified recruitment advertisements was conducted to investigate, in line with signalling theory, how employers’ express their requirements and expectations in recruitment advertising.
Findings/conclusions: The empirical study shows that ads frequently describe work environments as culturally diverse. Most reviewed advertisements contain references to interactions with partners and customers across national borders. However, there is a weak connection between the work situation described in the ads and the skills required to tackle diversity. While foreign language and communication skills are frequently listed as requirements in those ads, intercultural competence is seldom a requirement. Even if not vocalized, evidence suggests that future graduates will increasingly need intercultural competence.
Limitations/future research: The study was conducted based on a limited number of recruitment advertisements. Future research could include a wider coverage of recruitment advertisements. The qualitative research would complement findings on the need for interculturally competent graduates.