Major ethical issues in the field of intercultural relations: An exploratory study

Kyoung Ah Nam, Gary Weaver, Robert delMas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


A major initial step in professionalizing intercultural relations as an applied field of study is to determine the ethical concerns of people actively involved in both scholarship and practice. Some intercultural relations organizations have established committees to develop standards of ethical behavior. There are many anecdotal accounts of unethical practices but there have been few systematic studies of such practices. This is the first large comprehensive quantitative survey of intercultural experts that contrasts and compares the concerns of both scholars and practitioners. The purpose of this exploratory study is to identify major ethical issues in the field of intercultural relations. Members of two major professional organizations were asked to identify what they believe are the major ethical concerns in the field of intercultural relations. Members of one organization were mostly intercultural practitioners while the other included mostly scholars. The results revealed that although there were great similarities in ethical concerns, there were also differences that were most likely a result of the two different professions. Of course, there were also some respondents who were members of both organizations and both professions. We identify, differentiate, and prioritize ethical concerns of scholars and practitioners. Although some differences were found in the types and ranking of ethical concerns, members of both professions believe that perpetuating cultural stereotypes and deceptively presenting one's intercultural relations training skills are the top two major ethical concerns, followed by misuse of training tools or instruments and delivering services that are not in the best interests of clients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)58-74
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Intercultural Relations
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier Ltd.


  • Cultural relativism
  • Ethical standards
  • Ethics
  • Intercultural communication
  • Intercultural relations
  • Intercultural training


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