::What is the Intercultural Conflict Style (ICS) Inventory?

"[For] any trainer conducting conflict training and wanting to be culturally relevant, this [ICS] instrument is the contribution the intercultural field has long needed."
Executive Diversity Services Quarterly

The ability to recognize and appropriately respond to cultural differences in conflict style is critically important in effectively managing and resolving disagreements and conflict. Over 15,000 people have already taken the ICS Inventory-coming from Canada, Europe, Asia, South America, Australia & New Zealand.

The Intercultural Conflict Style (ICS) Inventory is the premier assessment tool for identifying fundamental approaches for resolving conflict across cultural and ethnic group differences. ¹For a more detailed description of the ICS framework, click here. The ICS Inventory consists of 18 items and is a self-scoring, easy to use, cross-culturally valid and statistically reliable instrument that can be used for individual, group, and organizational level assessments.

The ICS Interpretive Guide

Accompanying the ICS Inventory is the ICS Interpretive Guide. This guide provides participants with in-depth information about their own approach for resolving conflict across cultures. In addition, participants learn about the four cross-cultural conflict styles assessed by the ICS Inventory, strengths and weaknesses of each intercultural conflict style, and how their own conflict style compares to the conflict style of their own and other cultural communities.

The ICS Facilitator's Manual

The ICS Facilitator's Manual is an invaluable tool for trainers, educators, mediators or anyone who is using the ICS Inventory. This manual provides practical guidelines for using the ICS Inventory, a summary of research that supports the intercultural conflict style model, development and validation of the ICS Inventory, and effective training/educational session designs for using the ICS Inventory.

::Validity of the ICS Inventory

The ICS Inventory developed by Dr. Hammer is a highly valid and reliable assessment of intercultural conflict resolution styles. For a full description of the development of the ICS Inventory, review the ICS Facilitator's Manual and consult Dr. Hammer's published article1 in the International Journal of Intercultural Relations, (the premier academic, peer-reviewed journal in the intercultural field).

In developing the ICS Inventory, standard psychometric scale construction guidelines were followed. A total of 106 items were generated based on a review of relevant literature to reflect more verbally direct to more indirect approaches and more emotionally expressive to more emotionally restrained approaches to resolving conflict.

The 106 items plus the demographic questions were administered to a sample of 510 culturally diverse respondents. Confirmatory factor analysis was employed to test the "fit" of the proposed two dimensional theoretical model (Direct/Indirect; Emotional Expressiveness/Restraint) to the data. Results from examining the ratio (2.36) of chi-square (4003.9) to degrees of freedom (1695), Goodness-of-Fit Index (GFI) estimate (.75), Root Mean-square Residual (.12) and the RMSEA (.05) all indicate the proposed two dimensional model, consisting of a Direct/Indirect dimension and an Emotional Expressiveness/Restraint dimension, provides a good fit to the data.

The confirmatory factor analysis narrowed the final set of items to an 18-item Direct/Indirect scale (DI scale) that achieved a reliability of .71. A second, 18 item Emotional Expressiveness/Restraint (ER scale) was also identified. Reliability for this ER scale was .86. Additional analysis was completed examining the effects of gender, age, education and previous living experience in another culture. No significant effects were found on any of these dimensions, strengthening the generalizability of the ICS.

The ICS Inventory was then formatted into the current, "user-friendly" structure, in which direct vs. indirect items were "matched" with one another and emotionally expressive vs. emotionally restrained items were "matched" with one another. Respondents distributed five points between each option. This newly formatted ICS Inventory was then administered to a new sample of 487 respondents from a variety of cultural backgrounds. Because the direct and indirect items were options, the nine direct items comprised the direct/indirect scale and obtained coefficient alpha reliability of .73. Again, because the emotionally expressive and emotionally Restraint items were options, the nine emotionally expressive items comprised the emotionally expressive/restraint scale. These nine items obtained a reliability coefficient of .85. The results from this additional sample analysis of the current format of the Intercultural Conflict Style Inventory indicates the direct/indirect and the emotional expressive/restraint scales maintain consistent and satisfactory reliability.

¹M.R. Hammer (2005). The intercultural conflict style inventory: A conceptual framework and measure of intercultural conflict resolution approaches. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, volume 29, pages 675-695.