Intercultural Communication Apprehension as a Mediator between Generational Differences and Conflict

Main Article Content

Handini Trisasanti
Wanchai Dhammasaccakarn
Idsaratt Rinthaisong
Banthita Limpradit


Successful communication skills support work and academic activities. However, people with different cultural backgrounds can struggle to communicate with each other, causing conflict and reduced productivity. This study investigated the mediating role of intercultural communication apprehension (ICA) on the relationship between generational differences and conflict in multicultural offices and aimed to explore the causes of conflicts in such offices as well as its effect on work performance and mood. The study utilized a mixed-methods approach with a quasi-mixed design. A sample of 130 employees from the embassies to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Jakarta, Indonesia, participated in the research. The quantitative analysis revealed that ICA is a strong mediating variable between generational differences and conflict, demonstrating how generational differences can lead to conflict when mediated by ICA. The main effect of ICA was significant (t = -.84, p = .40, 95% CI [-2.77, 1.12], bootstrap 5000). Qualitative data indicated that the conflicts caused by cultural differences in multicultural environments resulted from differences in work performance, expectations, and attitudes. Conflicts affected work performance and mood, resulting in a further reduction of productivity. This study contributes to improving communication in multicultural offices by demonstrating the benefits of lower ICA levels and recommending ways to reduce conflict between colleagues with different generations and cultural backgrounds.

Article Details

How to Cite
Trisasanti, H., Dhammasaccakarn, W., Rinthaisong, I., & Limpradit, B. (2020). Intercultural Communication Apprehension as a Mediator between Generational Differences and Conflict. The Journal of Behavioral Science, 15(3), 66-84. Retrieved from
Research Articles
Author Biographies

Handini Trisasanti, Department of Educational Foundation, Faculty of Liberal Arts, Prince of Songkla University, Thailand.

Handini Trisasanti obtained her master’s degree in Human and Social Development from Prince of Songkla University in 2019. She works under the supervision of Assoc. Prof. Dr. Wanchai Dhammasaccakarn. Her research is centered on intercultural communication apprehension of employees in multicultural offices.

Wanchai Dhammasaccakarn, Department of Educational Foundation, Faculty of Liberal Arts, Prince of Songkla University, Thailand.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Wanchai Dhammasaccakarn is an Associate Professor of Applied Behavioral Science Research at Faculty of Liberal Arts, Prince of Songkla University, Thailand with over 20 years of research experience in the applied behavioral science area. The current research interests in Dr. Dhammasaccakarn's group include: (1) Development studies (community and local development); (2) Empowerment; and (3) Behavioral science research methodology.

Idsaratt Rinthaisong, Department of Public Administration, Faculty of Liberal Arts, Prince of Songkla University, Thailand.

Dr. Idsaratt Rinthaisong earned his Ph.D. degree in Applied Behavioral Science Research from Srinakharinwirot University, Thailand. He has coauthored over 30 publications in five years including The Journal of Behavioral Science and Kasetsart Journal of Social Sciences. He is currently a lecturer in Department of Public Administration, Prince of Songkla University, Thailand. His current research focuses on advanced research methodology in social and behavioral sciences.

Banthita Limpradit, Department of Educational Foundation, Faculty of Liberal Arts, Prince of Songkla University, Thailand.

Dr. Banthita Limpradit obtained her doctorate’s degree in Tourism Management from University of Bedfordshire, United Kingdom. Recently she published the paper on Tourism and Poverty Reduction: the effect of tourism on livelihood of local people on Bulon Island Satun Province, Thailand with Journal of Yala Rajabhat University. She is currently a lecturer in Department of Educational Foundation, Prince of Songkla University, Thailand.


Adler, N. J. (1980). Cultural synergy: The management of cross-cultural organizations. In W. W. Burke & L. D. Goodstein (Eds.), Trends and issues in OD: Current theory and practice. McGill University.
Al-Asfour, A., & Lettau, L. (2014). Strategies for leadership styles for multi-generational workforce. Journal of Leadership, Accountability and Ethics, 11(2), 58.
Albert, E. & Maizland, L. (2019, December 20). What is ASEAN?. Council on Foreign Relations.
Arsenault, P. M. (2004). Validating generational differences: A legitimate diversity and leadership issue. Leadership and Organization Development Journal, 25(2), 124-141.
Baron, R. M., & Kenny, D. A. (1986). The moderator–mediator variable distinction in social psychological research: Conceptual, strategic, and statistical considerations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51(6), 1173-1182.
Beamer, L. (1992). Learning Intercultural Communication Competence. The Journal of Business Communication, 29(3), 286-304.
Beoku-Betts, J. (2004). African women pursuing graduate studies in the sciences: Racism, gender bias, and third world marginality. NWSA journal, 16(1), 116-135.
Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative research in psychology, 3(2), 77-101.
Cargile, A. C., & Giles, H. (1996). Intercultural communication training: Review, critique, and a new theoretical framework. Annals of the International Communication Association, 19(1), 385-404.
Carver, L., & Candela, L. (2008). Attaining organizational commitment across different generations of nurses. Journal of Nursing Management, 16(8), 984-991.
Clyne, M. (1994). Inter-cultural communication at work – cultural values in discourse. Cambridge University Press.
Creswell, J. W., Plano Clark, V. L., Gutmann, M. L., & Hanson, W. E. (2003). Advanced mixed methods research designs. In A. Tashakkori & C. Teddlie (Eds.), Handbook of mixed methods in social and behavioral research (pp. 209-240). Sage.
Cupach, W. R., & Canary, D. J. (1997). Competence in interpersonal conflict. McGraw-Hill.
Dowling, P. J., & Welch, D. E. (2004). International human resource management: Managing people in a multinational environment. Thompson Learning.
Giles, H., & Noels, K. A. (1997). Communication accommodation in intercultural encounters. In J. Martin, T. Nakayama, & L. Flores (Eds.), Readings in cultural contexts (pp. 139-149). Mayfield.
Glaser, E. (2010). Working in Multicultural Teams. In M. Guilherme, E. Glaser, & M. D. C. Mendez Garcia (Eds.), The intercultural dynamics of multicultural working (pp. 186-203). Multilingual Matters.
Green, D. D., & Roberts, G. E. (2012). Impact of postmodernism on public sector leadership practices: Federal government human capital development implications. Public Personnel Management, 41(1), 79-96.
Gudykunst, W. B. (1995). Anxiety/uncertainty management theory: Current status. In R. Wiseman (Ed.), Intercultural communication theory (pp. 8-58). Sage.
Gudykunst, W. B. (2005). An anxiety/uncertainty management (aum) theory of effective communication: Making the mesh of the net finer. In W. B. Gudykunst (Ed.), Theorizing about intercultural communication (p. 281–322). Sage Publications Ltd.
Guilherme, M., Glaser, E., & García, M. d. C. M. (2010). The intercultural dynamics of multicultural working (Vol. 19). Multilingual Matters.
Hassan, R. (1975). International Tourism and Intercultural Communication: The case of Japanese Tourists in Singapore: "World Understanding Through Tourism... One Road To Peace.". Southeast Asian Journal of Social Science, 3(2), 25-38.
Hayes, A. F., Glynn, C. J., & Shanahan, J. (2005). Willingness to self-censor: A construct and measurement tool for public opinion research. International Journal of Public Opinion Research, 17(3), 298-323.
Hayes, A. F., & Scharkow, M. (2013). The relative trustworthiness of inferential tests of the indirect effect in statistical mediation analysis: Does method really matter? Psychological Science, 24(10), 1918-1927.
Heggins, W. J., & Jackson, J. F. (2003). Understanding the collegiate experience for Asian international students at a Midwestern research university. College Student Journal, 37(3), 379-392.
Howe, N., & Strauss, W. (2000). Millennials rising: The next great generation. Vintage.
Hsu, C.-F., & Chen, J. (2020). The influences of host and ethnic internet use on sociocultural and psychological adaptation among Chinese college students in the United States: Intercultural communication apprehension and uncertainty reduction as mediators. Journal of International and Intercultural Communication, 1-16.
Kilduff, M., Funk, J. L., & Mehra, A. (1997). Engineering Identity in a Japanese Factory. Organization Science 8(6), 579-592.
Kim, Y. Y. (2002). Adapting to an unfamiliar culture. In S. TingToomey & F. Korzenny (Eds.), Handbook of international and intercultural communication (pp. 259-275). Sage.
Lake, D. A., & Rothchild, D. (1996). Containing fear: The origins and management of ethnic conflict. International Security, 21(2), 41-75.
Lee, J. J., & Rice, C. (2007). Welcome to America? International student perceptions of discrimination. Higher Education, 53(3), 381-409.
Lester, S. W., Standifer, R. L., Schultz, N. J., & Windsor, J. M. (2012). Actual versus perceived generational differences at work: An empirical examination. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 19(3), 341-354.
Li, R. Y., & Kaye, M. (1998). Understanding overseas students’ concerns and problems. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 20(1), 41-50.
Lin, Y., & Rancer, A. S. (2003). Sex differences in intercultural communication apprehension, ethnocentrism, and intercultural willingness to communicate. Psychological Reports, 92(1), 195-200.
López‐Cabarcos, M. Á., Vázquez‐Rodríguez, P., & Gieure, C. (2017). Gender and age differences in the psychosocial risk factors of workplace bullying. Psychology & Marketing, 34(11), 1023-1030.
Lyons, S. T., Schweitzer, L., Urick, M. J., & Kuron, L. (2019). A dynamic social-ecological model of generational identity in the workplace. Journal of Intergenerational Relationships, 17(1), 1-24.
Martin, J. N., & Nakayama, T. K. (2010). Intercultural communication in contexts (5th ed.). McGraw-Hill.
Martin, M. M., Valencic, K. M., & Heisel, A. D. (2002). The relationship between students’ communication apprehension and their motives for communicating with their instructors. Communication Research Reports, 19(1), 1-7.
McCroskey, J. C., & Andersen, J. F. (1976). The relationship between communication apprehension and academic achievement among college students. Human Communication Research, 3(1), 73-81.
Myers, K. K., & Sadaghiani, K. (2010). Millennials in the workplace: A communication perspective on millennials’ organizational relationships and performance. Journal of Business and Psychology, 25(2), 225-238.
Nelson, E. S., & Webster, S. (1991, April 12-13). Visualization and rational-emotive therapy as interventions for communication apprehension. The Annual Carolinas Psychology Conference, Raleigh, NC.
Neuliep, J. W. (2012). The relationship among intercultural communication apprehension, ethnocentrism, uncertainty reduction, and communication satisfaction during initial intercultural interaction: An extension of anxiety and uncertainty management (AUM) theory. Journal of Intercultural Communication Research, 41(1), 1-16.
Neuliep, J. W., & McCroskey, J. C. (1997). The development of intercultural and interethnic communication apprehension scales. Communication Research Reports, 14(2), 145-156.
Neuliep, J. W., & Ryan, D. J. (1998). The influence of intercultural communication apprehension and socio‐communicative orientation on uncertainty reduction during initial cross‐cultural interaction. Communication Quarterly, 46(1), 88-99.
O'Reilly, C. A. III, Williams, K. Y., & Barsade, S. (1998). Group demography and innovation: Does diversity help? In D. H Gruenfeld (Ed.), Research on managing groups and teams (Vol. 1, Composition) (p. 183–207). Elsevier Science/JAI Press.
Ostrom, E. (1990). Governing the commons: The evolution of institutions for collective action. Cambridge University Press.
Peltorkopi, V. (2006). The impact of relational diversity and socio-cultural context on interpersonal communication: Nordic subsidiaries in Japan. Asian Business & Management, 5(3), 333-356.
Pritchard, R. M., & Skinner, B. (2002). Cross-cultural partnerships between home and international students. Journal of Studies in International Education, 6(4), 323-353.
Rahmani, D., & Croucher, S. (2017). Minority groups and communication apprehension. Journal of Intercultural Communication, 2017(34).
Reid, A. J. (1996). What we want: qualitative research (Promising frontier for family) medicine. Canadian Family Physician, 42, 387.
Ross, M. H. (1993). The culture of conflict: Interpretations and interests in comparative perspective. Yale University Press.
Sale, J. E., Lohfeld, L. H., & Brazil, K. (2002). Revisiting the quantitative-qualitative debate: Implications for mixed-methods research. Quality and Quantity, 36(1), 43-53.
Samovar, L. A., Porter, R. E., & McDaniel, E. R. (2001). Communication between cultures (7th ed.). Wadsworth.
Scollon, R., & Scollon, S. (1995). Intercultural communication: A discourse approach. Blackwell.
Sessa, V. I., Kabacoff, R. I., Deal, J., & Brown, H. (2007). Generational differences in leader values and leadership behaviors. The Psychologist-Manager Journal, 10(1), 47-74.
Seyitoglu, F., Guven, A., & Kocabulut, O. (2015). Effects of intercultural communication apprehension on satisfaction of foreign students. Proceedings of the First European Academic Research Conference on Global Business, Economics, Finance and Social Science (EAR15Italy Conference) June 30-July 1-2, 2015, Paper ID: I549, Milan-Italy.
Stephan, W. G., & Stephan, C. W. (1996). Predicting prejudice. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 20(3-4), 409-426.
Strauss, W., & Howe, N. (1997). The fourth turning: American Prophecy. Broadway Books.
Strauss, W., & Howe, N. (2006). Millennials and the pop culture. LifeCourse Associates.
Teddlie, C., & Tashakkori, A. (2006). A general typology of research designs featuring mixed methods. Research in the Schools, 13(1), 12-28.
Teddlie, C., & Tashakkori, A. (2009). Foundations of mixed methods research: Integrating quantitative and qualitative approaches in the social and behavioral sciences. Sage.
Torsello, D. (2019). Generation Y workers. Employee relations: The international journal.
Urick, M. J., Hollensbe, E. C., Masterson, S. S., & Lyons, S. T. (2017). Understanding and managing intergenerational conflict: An examination of influences and strategies. Work, Aging and Retirement, 3(2), 166-185.
Watson, A. K., Monroe, E. E., & Atterstrom, H. (1989). Comparison of communication apprehension across cultures: American and Swedish children. Communication Quarterly, 37(1), 67-76.
Weingarten, R. M. (2009). Four generations, one workplace: A Gen XY staff nurse’s view of team building in the emergency department. Journal of Emergency Nursing, 35(1), 27-30.
Wilmot, W. W., & Hocker, J. L. (2001). Interpersonal conflict. McGraw-Hill.
Wrench, J. S., Corrigan, M. W., McCroskey, J. C., & Punyanunt-Carter, N. M. (2006). Religious fundamentalism and intercultural communication: The relationships among ethnocentrism, intercultural communication apprehension, religious fundamentalism, homonegativity, and tolerance for religious disagreements. Journal of Intercultural Communication Research, 35(1), 23-44.
Yoshitake, M. (2002). Anxiety/uncertainty management (AUM) theory: A critical examination of an intercultural communication theory. Intercultural Communication Studies, 11(2), 177-193.
Zemke, R., Raines, C., & Filipczak, B. (2013). Generations at work: Managing the clash of Boomers, Gen Xers, and Gen Yers in the workplace. Amacom.
Zoels, G., & Silbermayr, T. (2010). Intercultural Relation at the Workplace. In M. Guilherme, E. Glaser, & M. Mendez-Garcia (Eds.), The intercultural dynamics of multicultural working (pp. 207-215). Multilingual Matters.