Profile — Professor Helen Spencer-Oatey

Core application areas of expertise: rapport management, working in diverse teams, communication across cultures, intercultural adaptation, intercultural competence/Global Fitness.

  • Founder of the internationally renowned Rapport Management Model
  • Co-developer of a suite of innovative diagnostic profilers, including the Global Education Profiler and the Global Fitness Profiler
  • Co-developer of a range of intercultural training resources
  • Experienced manager of international teams
  • Widely sought-after plenary speaker

My educational background is in both social psychology and pragmatics (a branch of linguistics), and throughout my career I have worked at the interface of the two disciplines. After completing my first degree, I worked in Austria and then went to live and work in Hong Kong, followed by Shanghai, China. Those experiences made me realise the importance of understanding cultural issues, especially for smooth communication and collaborative relationships.

After returning from over 10 years of living and working in East Asia, I completed a PhD on intercultural relationships and started a career as an academic. Initially this focused on the usual combination of teaching and research, but later I took up the management of a £4M Sino-UK e-learning programme (three phases, spanning 7 years in total), giving me superb first-hand experience of the challenges and joys of managing a set of international projects.

Nationally and internationally, I am particularly well known for my Rapport Management Model, which identifies and explains the various factors that affect the smoothness of our relations with others, especially when interacting in culturally diverse contexts. In collaboration with colleagues in different parts of the world, I’ve used the model to analyse authentic intercultural business interactions and used the insights to develop a range of intercultural training materials, resources and tools. I regularly give keynote and invited talks to a wide range of audiences in different parts of the world.

My research has been both quantitative and qualitative. While at the University of Warwick, I co-developed with Dr Daniel Dauber the Global Education Profiler, which is licensed to the commercial company i-graduate (part of the Tribal Group) and used by universities in many different parts of the world to probe and benchmark internationalisation. Since then, my conceptualisation of Global Fitness has led to the design of other profiling tools, for use in different sectoral contexts.

To learn about my book publications, click here. To see a full list of my publications, visit my University of Warwick page.