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Leadership and management in intercultural contexts

Given the increasingly intercultural and globally connected nature of business, management and organisations, this module provides opportunities for you to question and reflect on your own practice and to develop ways of managing and leading which are appropriate in different national and regional settings. By offering new (cross-national) perspectives on leadership and management you are also challenged to rethink your own practices in your current setting. This module addresses issues facing managers and leaders working in intercultural contexts and supports you to develop skills, competencies and knowledge to thrive and to get the best from colleagues, partners and associates.

Vocational relevance

The module is relevant to any managerial career. It has particular relevance if you are considering or already have an international career or if your managerial and leadership role involves interaction with or within intercultural or intracultural organisations or contexts.


BB848 is an optional module in our:

Excluded combinations

Sometimes you will not be able to count a module towards a qualification if you have already taken another module with similar content. To check any excluded combinations relating to this module, visit our excluded combination finder or check with an adviser before registering.


Module code


  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
Study level
To enable you to make international comparisons, the information provided shows how OU postgraduate modules correspond to the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ).
OU Postgraduate
Study method
Distance learning
Find out more in Why the OU?
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

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What you will study

This module aims to help leaders and managers develop as intercultural mediators who are able to engage with the complexities of the global arena by transforming ideas, goals and practices into forms which are meaningful and workable in local settings; appreciating and understanding difference and avoiding stereotyping. It builds on the groundwork done in MBA stage 1: management perspectives and practice (B716) and complements the strategy, and finance modules by developing an understanding of the ways in which management practices need adaptation in different cultural and institutional contexts. More specifically the learning outcomes of this elective are to:

  • develop increased critical understanding of cultural and institutional differences between national and regional contexts and their implications for leadership and management
  • develop the skills of perspective-taking and reframing that enable you to recast ideas in and challenges in ways which work in different national and regional contexts
  • use other cultural and institutional perspectives as a lens to construct a more critical understanding of your own context and management and leadership practice
  • develop skills in accessing information on different national and regional contexts and drawing implications for the effective practice of management and leadership in those settings
  • develop a foundation for key competencies in managing across cultural and institutional contexts including: cultural intelligence; brokering; and recasting ideas and practices in terms which make sense in particular local contexts.

The content of this module is aimed at:

  • managers and leaders either already working in or wishing to work in cross-national settings be they in MNCs, governmental organisations, NGOs, not for profit organisations or SMEs;
  • those who need to expand their understanding of the challenges of international management.

The module covers the following three main themes:

Theme 1: Understanding culture’s effects
This theme explores different approaches to understanding cultures. The study materials encourage you to critically engage with these approaches based on your own knowledge and experience. Activities explore different concepts of management and leadership in different cultures and the expectations they raise in different cultural settings.

Theme 2: Understanding the role of social, political and economic institutions
Drawing on a varieties of capitalism approach, this section looks at the ways in which institutions such as labour markets, forms of firm governance, legal systems, differences in the rule of law, and the structure of inter-firm collaboration and competition affect the practices and challenges of leadership and management. Activities encourage you to explore the ways in which the business, social, economic and political environments affect your own experience of leadership and management.

Theme 3: Putting it into practice: cross-cultural leadership capabilities
This theme explores the implications of what you have learned for your own practice and uses, with a series of self-assessment tools to evaluate and assess your own strengths and development needs in relation to the challenges of intercultural leadership and management.

Supporting learning activities
While there is some reading involved in the module, much of the learning is through activities and investigations, on your own and in collaboration with others. These activities will involve you in gathering and interpreting evidence to better understand different cultural settings and in engaging with others to build your own skills in operating in intercultural contexts. A significant proportion of marks are allocated for effective participation in these activities.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the study material and mark and comment on your assignments and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. You will contact your tutor by telephone, email or via your tutor group forum on the BB848 website.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


The assessment details can be found in the facts box above.

You must use the online eTMA system to submit your tutor-marked assignment (TMA) and end-of-module assessment (EMA).

Course work includes

1 Tutor-marked assignment (TMA)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school

Future availability

Leadership and management in intercultural contexts starts twice a year – in May and November. This page describes the module that will start in November 2019 and May 2020. We expect it to start for the last time in November 2020.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations which are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.

    Entry requirements

    If you are studying this module as part of a qualification, such as the Master of Business Administration (MBA) (F61), you will need to have already completed MBA stage 1: management: perspectives and practice (B716). Your first module in Stage 2 of the MBA will be the compulsory module The dynamics of strategy (BB835). The next module you must study is the compulsory Stage 2 module Corporate finance (BB831), although you may choose to study an elective module alongside this 15 credits of compulsory finance study.

    Alternatively it is possible to study this module on a standalone basis. You will need to ensure that you have the knowledge and experience to study at postgraduate level. Please note that if you wish to study towards a qualification at a later date you must meet the entry requirements for that qualification.

    The module requires 150 hours of study over six months.

    You will also need an appropriate facility in English language, sufficient to be able to work effectively at postgraduate level; generally this means capability equivalent to an International English Language Test System (IELTS) score of 6.5. To assess your English language skills in relation to your proposed studies you can visit the IELTS website. If you are unsure whether your skill level in English is adequate you may find it helpful to look at our Skills for OU Study site.

    If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.


    Start End England fee Register
    02 Nov 2019 Apr 2020 £1490.00

    Registration closes 17/10/19 (places subject to availability)

    02 May 2020 Oct 2020 £1490.00

    Registration closes 16/04/20 (places subject to availability)

    This module is expected to start for the last time in November 2020.

    Future availability

    Leadership and management in intercultural contexts starts twice a year – in May and November. This page describes the module that will start in November 2019 and May 2020. We expect it to start for the last time in November 2020.

    Additional costs

    Study costs

    There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as a laptop, travel to tutorials, set books and internet access.

    Study materials

    What's included

    An extensive variety of specially written resources presented in different media (print and online) and designed exclusively for this module, audio-visual material, published articles, case-studies, a set of interactive tools to help you develop your management thinking abilities and access to The Open University library.

    Computing requirements

    A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module. Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.

    Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below.

    A desktop or laptop computer with either:

    • Windows 7 or higher
    • Mac OS X 10.7 or higher

    The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.

    To join in the spoken conversation in our online rooms we recommend a headset (headphones or earphones with an integrated microphone).

    Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students.

    If you have a disability

    Elements of this module are delivered online and include the use of real-time online discussions and an interactive whiteboard space; consequently time spent using a computer and the internet will be extensive. If you use assistive technology or have a hearing or speech impairment and have concerns about accessing this type of virtual environment and materials you can visit the system provider's website for information and contact The Open University to discuss it further before registering.

    Written transcripts of any audio components and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) versions of printed material are available. Some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader. Alternative formats of the study materials may be available in the future.

    If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Visit our Disability support website to find more about what we offer.