We sat down with Dr. Linn Van Dyne, CEO and Founder of the Cultural Intelligence Center, to find out how a research question turned into a Global Conference on Cultural Intelligence nearly 20 years later!  Here is her story.  

I recently met with the CQ Center team to discuss our upcoming Global Conference in Long Beach, California. Reviewing the topics, panelists, Certified Facilitators, and subject-matter experts involved in the conference demonstrates the wide variety of people all over the world who recognize the importance of Cultural Intelligence. I am very pleased with the growth of the Cultural Intelligence Center since we first started almost 20 years ago.

We established the CQ Center in 2004 and have had both challenging and rewarding experiences. In today’s divisive and polarized world, our core values and principles “to build bridges and remove barriers for working and relating effectively across cultures” are more important than ever.

Here is a brief history of our story.

Dr. Linn Van Dyne – Founder & Chief Executive Officer | Cultural Intelligence Center

Before I got my PhD, I was head of the HR department for a multinational organization. As part of my job, I sent many expatriates all over the world. They all had strong track records and were willing to go abroad, BUT we were terrible at predicting who would be successful and who would fail. For example, I knew an expatriate who always wanted to know when I would be visiting next so I could bring his family Cheerios and peanut butter (this was before these products were widely available). Obviously, this family was not adjusting and the expatriate experience was not working for them, but we didn’t know why.

When I was in graduate school, I met Soon Ang. We were in different departments (information technology and strategic management) and had different cultural backgrounds (Singapore and the United States), and yet, we had similar research interests.  Soon was studying programmers and wanted to gain a better understanding of why some were more effective in multicultural teams than others. I was interested in why some expatriates were more effective in working abroad than others.

Soon and I believed in the power of diversity and diverse perspectives, and so we decided to collaborate in addressing the question of why some individuals function more effectively in multicultural situations than others. In 2000, I spent my sabbatical in Singapore where I worked with Soon and a multicultural team to develop and test a rigorous measure of cultural intelligence.

We presented our first CQ papers at conferences in Chicago, Taipei, and New Orleans in 2004, and we published our first CQ paper in 2006. By 2023, people have published more than 1,000 CQ papers, conducted across 150+ countries throughout the world in over 600 scholarly journals. CQ has not only attracted research attention, but more importantly, over 250,000 individuals have completed CQ assessments. Feedback reports, based on the validated CQ assessment, provide participants with quantifiable information on their CQ capabilities and reflection questions to guide them in creating personal development plans for how they can use and enhance their CQ capabilities.

Dr. David Livermore deserves most of the credit for the early growth of the Cultural intelligence Center. Dave wrote his first book on Cultural Intelligence in 2006 and four years later, joined the CQ Center as co-founder and President. Later that year, we conducted our first CQ Certification courses in Chicago and Washington D.C. In 2013, we hired our first staff members, including Keyla Waslawski, our current Senior Vice President.

David Livermore – Founding Partner | Cultural Intelligence Center

In the last 10 years, we have grown from a small partnership with a few support staff to a multi-national company with staff and consultants around the world providing CQ solutions to corporations, universities, non-profits, and government organizations. We opened a subsidiary in the United Kingdom in 2021 and just hired the first employee for our European subsidiary in the Netherlands.

We have had the privilege of working with clients on every continent (except Antarctica) and have certified almost 3,000 individuals globally to debrief the CQ feedback reports so that others can gain the benefits of understanding their CQ capabilities. We have had our assessments translated into eight languages and also offer specialized programs for teams, educators, healthcare professionals, law enforcement, the military, etc.

In response to COVID, we developed virtual public workshops and certification programs as well as self-paced online learning courses to make CQ more accessible to all.

Although I am very proud of our strong academic roots and the growth of the business, I am most excited about the future. We are continuing to develop new solutions for team leaders, professionals, managers, leaders, and executives. We are also developing new and exciting programs for our growing community of Certified Facilitators.

At the Global Conference, we will be offering an in-person CQ Certification course and a CQ Certification refresher course – with a focus on “What’s New with CQ?”. During the conference, we will introduce new feedback reports, summarize recent CQ research, and invite industry and subject matter experts to share their experiences successfully leveraging  CQ in their own institutions.

I very much look forward to seeing clients, Certified Facilitators, and colleagues in California because all of you have helped spread the word about the benefits of CQ which include psychological safety, trust among dissimilar team members, knowledge sharing, low levels of conflict, high quality interactions, as well as leader and team performance.





Learn more about the CQ Global Conference by visiting the conference event page.