Article NO. 3
Tour guide communication competence:French, German and American tourists’ perceptions
Denis Leclerc, Judith N. Martin
International Journal of Intercultural Relations
28 (2004) 181–200

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a b s t r a c:

The primary goal of this paper is to examine cross-national variations in the perceived importance of communication competencies of tour guides. Tour guides play an important role as cultural buffers and also serve as communication links between tourists and host populations,and yet their communication competence is perhaps the least emphasized aspect in tourism research. Communication research provides a theoretical framework to investigate this topic and this research represents a first bridge between these two disciplines. This study takes a behavioral-cognitive approach,based on two assumptions: (1) that individuals hold cognitive notions about what comprises communication competence,and (2) they then use these expectations as guidelines to judge their own and others’ behaviors. In this study,tourists visiting the US Southwest from France,Germany,and the United States completed a questionnaire asking for their perceptions of the importance of 4 nonverbal dimensions (approachability,poise, attentiveness,and touch) and three verbal dimensions (language adaptability,interpersonal inclusion,and assertiveness) of intercultural communication competence of tour guides. Results indicate that there are significant differences in the perceptions of important communication competencies among the three nationality groups. For the most part,the French and German tourists ranked the dimensions differently from the American tourists. That is,the Americans ranked most nonverbal and verbal competence behaviors as more important than the European tourists. This study makes several important contributions to both the communication and the tourism fields. The cultural differences found in this study fit theoretically with prior research investigating US and European patterns of communication. In addition,the study raises some questions about the appropriateness of applying US competence frameworks to other cultural groups. Finally,the study contributes to the field of tourism in suggesting ways that tour guides might enhance their perceived competence depending on the nationality of the group they are leading. r 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

 

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