5.1 What is Self-Efficacy?

Self-efficacyAn individual’s perceptions of his or her abilities to meet a personal goal he or she has set., as defined by Albert Bandura,Bandura (1974). represents your perception of your abilities to meet a goal you have set for yourself. It is similar to self-confidence. Self-efficacy is a foundational component in cultural intelligence. For the past 25 years, scholars have researched this topic and the strategies that leaders can use to encourage higher levels of efficacy in their employees.

People with lower self-efficacy will have challenges throughout intercultural processes because they do not believe that they will be able to solve the problem. They do not feel they have the skills needed to work through the issues. Conversely, leaders who have higher levels of self-efficacy believe they can overcome obstacles, whether difficult or not. They have an easier time engaging in problem solving and finding strategic approaches for solving the issues before them.

Table 5.1 Self-efficacy Perspectives About Unfamiliar Cultural Settings

High Self-Efficacy Perspective About Unfamiliar Cultural Settings Low Self-Efficacy Perspective About Unfamiliar Cultural Settings
The task is to master unfamiliar settings The task is “too big for me” to handle
Sets higher commitment to goals and process No commitment to goals and process
Internal motivation to work diligently Motivation is decreased; little to no effort
“If I fail, I’ll try again” “It’s too stressful, complicated, and frustrating.”
Focus on success and removing obstacles Focus on obstacles and challenges
Visualize positive experiences and outcomes Visualize negative experiences and outcomes