Arasaratnam and Doerfel's (2005) study on defining intercultural communicative competence (ICC) may be dated, but I believe their discussions are very relevant to the current situation of ICC. Their study aimed to define ICC from a grounded exploratory approach. Their reasoning behind this is because of the subjective understanding of what intercultural is, and what competence is. Communication, from an intercultural perspective, is typified as spoken discourse.
To come to a definition of ICC, the study interviewed a group of international and local students studying in an American university. The students were asked what they thought ICC is, and what they thought are key components of a person who is interculturally competent. Though responses were diverse, a common thread was induced.
But would this common thread still be applicable to different cultural contexts? Probably from a qualitative perspective it would be, but perhaps not if viewed with a quantitative lens. Furthermore, is a theory for ICC really necessary if intercultural and competence are two subjective constructs whose meanings are dependent on the cultural contexts?
I think that the discussion by Arasaratnam and Doerfel should probably be reiterated, even though it has been almost ten years since they wrote their article. There are many studies in the past five years which had indicated a lack of ICC in the language classroom. The reasons for the lack are many, but they have seemed to ignore that perhaps the primary reason for the lack of ICC is because of the singular definition of ICC that they had subscribed to for their study. If intercultural and competence are really subjective constructs which differ from culture to culture, then studies of ICC should take into consideration using a qual-quan paradigm for research. Start off by exploring what intercultural is to their sample, and then performing quan steps to see whether the qual results are common in a similar sample.
Arasaratnam, L. A. & Doerfel, M. L. (2005). Intercultural communication competence: Identifying key components from multicultural perspectives. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 29, 137 - 163.