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Cultural competence is a critical aspect of achieving the pillar of social equity in public administration. Cultural competence refers to awareness, knowledge, and skills that support an individual’s ability to effectively function in various cultural contexts. Obtaining this set of skills is imperative for serving an increasingly diverse citizenry and workforce. However, several gaps in the literature prevent empirical research on this topic.
Although cultural competence has become increasingly important over the past decade, there lacks a theoretical framework about what influences cultural competence and how to measure cultural competence of public administrators. The purpose of this study was twofold. First, it sought to fill the gaps in the literature through identifying a discipline specific measure of cultural competence, and a set of cultural competencies that public administrators should be able to demonstrate. Second, it was to develop both an indirect and direct measure of cultural competence to test relationships with hypothesized predictors: public service motivation, color blind racial attitudes, exposure to diversity, and Lifetime Experience with Discrimination.
To address the primary objective, the results of a Delphi survey of 19 diversity or cultural competence experts in the field were analyzed. The Delphi results served as guidance in creating the dependent variables for this study: The Public Administration Cultural Competence Scale (PACCS) and the Public Administration Cultural Competence Index (PACCI). Fourteen institutions, for a total of 267 student responses, served as the sample to test the relationships with cultural competence and the independent variables.
Results of the analyses demonstrate that the PACCI serves as a preferred assessment of cultural competence, as the PACCS was significantly influenced by social desirability bias. The results also demonstrate evidence for a negative relationship between cultural competence and color blind racial attitudes, and a positive relationship between cultural competence and Lifetime Experience with Discrimination.
Overall, the study provides evidence for the increased need of cultural competence training and integration throughout the curriculum. A commitment to cultural competence integration and assessment is necessary to ensure that future public administrators are prepared to serve an increasingly diverse public.
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Cram, Bridgette E., "Cultural Competence in Public Administration: A Framework and Predictors of Cultural Competence for Graduating Masters Students" (2017). FIU Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 3459.
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