Team Project Paper
Cross Cultural Teams
Presented to: Dr. Orlando Richard By: Hari Krishna Jinesh Vajir Maitreyi Soman Ravindra Athalye Santosh Iyer
• Challenges with Cross Cultural Teams. with a joint deliverable for the organization or another stakeholder – has become both more common and more important. • Need for Future Research.
Multicultural teams have been a central focus of research for many years in the international business context. Then performance will follow. Current theory and research in international and cross-cultural management indeed tends to overemphasize problems
. Cultural diversity and satisfaction. With the rapid rise of multinational and even global interactions. Cultural diversity and creativity. To enable high performance in international organizations.Article Outline:
• Introduction. the multicultural team – defined as a group of people from different cultures. • Managerial Implications. teams must first overcome the barriers inherent in the cultural differences – problems of communication. • Citation/References. • Conclusion. • Positive Benefits of Cross Cultural Team. value incongruence. • Managing Cross Cultural Teams. and other such obstacles.
“cultural incompatibility”. Academic scholarship has reported on the increasing number of geographically distributed project teams working within matrix organizations. [Shenkar et al. and foster learning and innovation ( [ [Morosini et al.. proposes that the difficulties. the “cultural distance” hypothesis (e. “culture novelty” and “cultural risk”. 2010). among others (e. Barriers to performance have been explained in terms of concepts “cultural friction”. Scholars report that matrix forms are hard to manage
. managers looking for research on how to realize the positive in multicultural teamwork – not just to overcome the negative – are faced with a real scarcity. [Shenkar. Many international companies have projects spanning a variety of nationalities. not just counterbalancing negative aspects of cultural differences but contributing positively to organizational outcomes.. Some scholars have highlighted potentially beneficial effects of cultural differences in various contexts: For example. 1998] .and barriers instead of making room for aspects that potentially could enrich cultural encounters and interaction (Drogendijk & Zander.. costs. or organizations. involving great geographical distance and a range of time zones. [Reus and Lamont. mergers and acquisitions to develop unique and potentially valuable capabilities. and risks associated with cross-cultural contact increase with growing cultural dissimilarity between two or more individuals. 2008] ). in its most general form. 2001] and [Ward. 2009] and [Vermeulen and Barkema.g. 2008] and [Stahl and Voigt.g. On the other hand. there is some evidence that cultural differences can help firms engaged in cross-border alliances. 2003] ). groups.
Challenges with Cross Cultural Teams:
Globalization has led to many changes in the nature of project team work. “culture clash”. and it is assumed that their work is very difﬁcult. 2001] ).. For example.
working on a document round the clock. Phoning was “not the same” and the monthly video conferences were somewhat controversial. comprising the time difference and the lack of face-to-face contact. mentioned above. Some reported appreciating seeing people’s faces and body language while others reported that video conferencing facilities were poor quality and less convenient than dial-in teleconferences held from the ofﬁce. for example. based on long-term consistent performance and behavior that created conﬁdence. Developing Trust is another challenge.
. 2003).and diversity has been known to lead to poor performing teams (Iles and Kaur Hayers. Different time zones meant that teams could use more of the day. 1997). Face-to-face contact. There are several challenges in working and managing cross-cultural teams. Another beneﬁt of spending at least two days together included going through the “forming. storming. Lack of face to face contact was more problematic and many missed what they called the “ofﬁce atmosphere” and the opportunities presented by striking up a conversation in the cafeteria or hallway. performing” dynamic more quickly. It is reported that trust was built over time. Vakola and Wilson (2004) warn that the importance of the human element and the way that people co-operate with each other should not be taken for granted. project managers and members. Virtual teamwork is more complex than working face-to-face (Heimer and Vince. have an impact on project management tasks. 1998) and site Speciﬁc cultures and lack of familiarity are reported to be sources of conﬂict (Hinds and Bailey. was a key to developing trust and this was initiated by a formal team building sessions with a facilitator to “agree to the relationship” and deﬁne the rules as to how the team was going to work. A main reason that developing trust and a comfort level was “a major challenge” was the high turnover of project leaders. Some of these are described below: Virtual Aspects of Communication. The greatest impact reported was two-fold. norming.
An example of overlapping language and cultural attitudes that are difﬁcult to separate are the “direct. it comes over a little too strongly sometimes”. Differences in cultural attitudes between Europe and the USA were reported in connection with trust. e. as he did not have to ﬁgure out the “nugget” of information he needed to move on the next step in a process. Use of English was an issue in particular when dealing with teams working in Germany. as well as their “moving ahead with spirit”. An American project leader saw the beneﬁt of this directness in terms of efﬁciency. who saw it as a cultural style. pointed Germanic tone” described by an American leader. An American product area head described how understanding how to interact with the Japanese was something that took a lot of work and specialized attention. learning to read between the lines in meetings. A Swiss manager found it important that when Americans talked in meetings about everything being “easy. This was mostly connected with communication patterns. perfect. This involved getting their trust and achieving good communication as well. of the “good hearty openness and ‘I’m your friend’ kind of thing”. between the USA and Europe and between the USA/Europe and Japan. that he followed up their comments in a meeting with a personal talk with people individually. Another key issue was the recognition and interpretation of different communication patterns. A British leader put this directness down to the person’s command of English. as well as Japanese colleagues on all levels. In general. Cultural differences were reported in two main area dynamics. under control”. A key challenge was that Japanese
. cultural differences between the USA and Europe were considered minimal in comparison to the contrasts experienced by those who had worked with Japan. to ﬁnd out how things really were.Managing Language and Cultural Issues is another big challenge. saying that “particularly in writing.g. An example given by an American product area head was the natural distrust he sensed from inexperienced managers in the Germanic culture to the American culture.
Training is particularly important for new members of project teams working on different continents. “much. It is thus important to select creative leaders with a collaborative leadership style and excellent communication skills. There is value in ongoing investment in language and intercultural communication training. There is need for top management to continue to facilitate face-to-face communication and relationship building. and Mary C. much higher” than in Europe. Kristin Behfar. so that in some situations. A variety of differences may and do exist among people who are a part of such diverse
. the ﬁnal answer would still have to be “no”.colleagues would say “yes” in a meeting regarding things which turned out to be impossible. managing personality issues as well as the functional and cultural mindsets of team members. The trend towards everincreasing use of technology can be efﬁcient and clearly saves costs. by Jeanne Brett. © 2009 Harvard Business School Publishing)]. At the same time they need to keep ﬁnding new ways to communicate across time zones and work round geographical barriers.
Managing Cross Cultural Teams:
[Reference: Managing Multicultural Teams. Leaders in a matrix organization must be able to lead by inﬂuence rather than authority. The companies that do their business internationally or those that have members coming from different nations and backgrounds place special challenges on the people who manage these teams. no matter how many discussions took place in the team meetings. Kern (as cited in The Essential Guide to Leadership: Harvard Business Review. to help reduce potential distrust. but has its price. and allow teams to gel more quickly and work together efficiently. It was often mentioned that the decision-making power of a Japanese senior manager was greater.
attitudes toward organizational hierarchy. It is probably the best possible approach to the problem because it typically involves less managerial time. understanding the above four barriers to team success can help the managers to evaluate and the select the best possible responses to resolve the issues and result in the smooth functioning of the teams. if they are not handled and managed properly. defensive. Research shows that there are four different types of strategies which the managers commonly use to tackle multicultural team problems. they learn from the process. The differences between such teams exist due to four major factors. 2) Structural Intervention: A structural intervention is a deliberate reorganization or reassignment designed to reduce interpersonal friction or to remove a source of conflict from one or more groups. or clinging to negative stereotypes of one another. This approach can be extremely effective when obvious subgroups demarcate the team or of the team members are proud. There is no one right way to tackle multicultural problems. direct and indirect methods of communication. The team’s unique circumstances can help the managers to determine how to respond to multicultural conflicts. threatened. accent and fluency of languages. and because team members participate in solving the problem themselves. and decision making norms. These differences are barriers to the team success and they can create serious problems or may even result in disastrous consequences for the organization and its business.teams. Another structural intervention might be to create smaller working groups of mixed cultures or mixed corporate identities in
. based on the situation. The strategies are discussed as follows:1) Adaptation: This strategy involves encouraging the team members to adapt by acknowledging cultural differences openly and working around to live with them. But.
making a final decision without team involvement. This approach should be used rarely. This strategy should be used as the last alternative when emotions are running too high. The managers can strengthen the team’s ability to use the adaptation process by fostering a working environment in which cultural differences are valued. the managers should avoid intervening directly because it can prevent team members from solving the problems themselves and learning from that process. But. the manager should encourage open discussion on cultural backgrounds. neither the manager nor the team gains much insight into why the team has stalemated.order to get to information that is not forthcoming from the team as a whole.
. 96510]. As much as possible. 4) Exit: This means the voluntary or involuntary removal of a member from the team. race. The subgrouping technique involves risk. however it buffers people who are not working well together or not participating in the larger group for one reason or another. In this case. function. [Reference: Making Differences Matter: A New Paradigm for Managing Diversity by David A. eliminate the forms of dominance that inhibit the member’s contribution – such as hierarchy. managerial intervention to set norms early in a team’s life can really help them to start out without effective processes. or too much face has been lost on both sides to salvage the situation. To cultivate such an environment. Ely Harvard Business Review September 1996 Product no. Thomas and Robin J. a team member is unable to adjust and contribute to the project. for instance a new team needs guidance in establishing productive norms. gender and so forth. and acknowledge and swiftly resolve the inevitable tensions that may arise when employees from different backgrounds share ideas and emotions. 3) Managerial Intervention: This is when a manager behaves like an arbitrator or judge.
Arranging language classes for non-English speaking employees and vice-versa. a recent meta-analysis of 108 empirical studies on 10.[Reference:
Management. Coordinating cross-culture training sessions to train team members on various cultures and the style of the region..
Positive Benefits of Cross Cultural Teams
More traditionally oriented studies.632 multicultural teams (Stahl et al.
(http://blog. including increased creativity. Introducing team building and role-play activities as ice-breakers and encouraging friendly gatherings and discussions outside working hours.
Generating trust and motivating each team member on the same level. Cultural Diversity and Creativity Although there are clearly some parallels among different diversity sources (Van Knippenberg &
. and adaptability (see the reviews of [Stahl et al. 2010) found that while cultural diversity was associated with process losses through increased conflict and decreased social integration.com/elearning/multi-cultural-team-management)] The other most commonly used methods by the managers to deal with multicultural teams are: Identifying conflicting areas of interest and practices for each culture.. removing hostility and promoting respect and faith amongst multicultural employees of the team. 2010]). have observed that diversity can be associated with a range of positive outcomes. For example. it led to process gains through increased creativity and satisfaction and mixed outcomes with regards to communication effectiveness depending on the team setting.commlabindia.
modes of perception. 2005] and [Stevens et al.. We start our analysis by assessing the link between cultural diversity and creativity. Cultural differences are often below the level of consciousness. so some of their effects may not be recognized. Here. previous experiences and mental models influence both what is on people's radar screens as well as their cognitive assessment of the expected outcomes and pay-off of alternative actions ( [Gavetti. This relationship has been the core of the “value-in-diversity hypothesis” (Cox & Blake. and was also identified in the Stahl et al. we draw primarily on studies that examine the effects of cultural diversity to elaborate on the processes and mechanisms by which this specific type of diversity leads to positive team outcomes.Schippers.
. a POS lens can further contribute to the understanding of the underlying processes and conditions that produce this relationship. 2008] ). it is possible that cultural diversity affects teams differently than other diversity sources ([Lane et al. on creativity and innovation. 2004]). so the effects of cultural diversity may be stronger than other sources. and approaches to problems that people coming from different cultures typically have ( [Mannix and Neale. It should thus follow that the more diverse experience (consisting of both explicit and tacit knowledge) team members have accumulated and the wider variety of alternative of perspectives they use to evaluate problems. While the argument that diverse teams are a fundamental source of creative initiatives is largely in line with previous research.. 1991). The processes and mechanisms through which diversity increases creativity are likely to be associated with the differences in experiences. As Gavetti and Levinthal (2000) suggest. for example. This may also be true for the potentially positive effects of diversity. 2000] ).. At the same time. culture is often a source of strong categorization and stereotyping. information processing. (2010) meta-analysis. 2009] and [Lane et al. mental models. 2005] and [Tripsas and Gavetti. 2007).
Furthermore. may imply that working in a multicultural team creates conditions and satisfies needs that are not met in teams characterized by other types of diversity. we argue. In diverse teams. Stahl et al. providing a fruitful context for novel combinations. 2003). Evidence for such satisfaction can be found in studies of global careerists. new experiences and personal growth are among the most important reasons they sought international assignments (Suutari & Mäkelä. this variety of knowledge and perspectives should lead to better and more useful ideas. and knowledge become interdependent.the broader the reference base of potential action-outcome linkages the team can draw upon to inform action ( [Watson et al. However. Further. Cultural Diversity and Satisfaction It is not surprising that the relationship between diversity and satisfaction has generally been found to be negative. the internal cultural diversity of a team as well as its members’ boundary-spanning ties to different team-external groups enables access to better and more diverse information and opportunities (Reagans and McEvily. 1993] ). development. goods.. innovation is typically a product of connections in which previously unrelated agents. Managers. who repeatedly state that learning. and this exposure to other ideas and the learning potential inherent in a multicultural environment may be highly satisfying. 2007). (2010) meta-analysis found an unexpected (and robust) positive relationship between cultural diversity and satisfaction. or even adventure in ways that working in otherwise demographically diverse teams does not. generally express great curiosity in working
. students and managers often express interest in working with people from other cultures. the Stahl et al. Working in a multicultural team may full fill individual needs for variety. which is worth pursuing more in-depth. As Hardagon and Sutton (1997) argue. (2010) is the first meta-analysis that separates the effects of “cultural” diversity from other types of diversity which.
it is the norm to go the extra mile alone and not need or expect a lot of direction and monitoring. communication becomes simpler (Lipnack and Stamps. Management reluctance can also be a problem for virtual corporations. Thus cultural diversity leads to positive outcomes and has many positive benefits. Managers must ensure that all parties in the virtual team can participate and benefit from the interaction. 1997. Lipnack and Stamps (1997) state that managing a successful virtual company requires 90% people and 10% technology.with people from other cultures. Jarvenpaa 1998. Alexander 2000). For example Japan is one country who believes in working in teams and don’t seem to mind being directed and pushed.S. Kumar and Van Fenam 2001). A virtual manager is faced with far more challenges of keeping members connected and communicating effectively across the network.
Team leaders and supervisors must be aware of particular issues in order to avoid any potential problems (Cascio 2000). This is important to remember when managing virtual teams (Atkins and Cogburn 2001.
. Not everyone embraces the virtual teamwork model around the world. Dash 2001. However in the U. If there is trust on a team. Policies and procedures are also established and necessary for members to follow and respect. Some developing country’s managers may like a traditional office instead of a virtual corporation. Some individuals need guidance and direction while others are more independent. the managers must be able to understand the diversity in international cultures so that understanding the trait is a success (O’Hara 2001). and reflect on such experiences as inherently interesting.
2004).Need For Future Research
There are many Cross Cultural Training programs available out there in the Organizational settings. While practitioner and anecdotal articles often extol the potential benefits of cultural diversity. Osland & Osland. This negative bias has likely limited our understanding of the conditions that promote the benefits of diversity and of the mechanisms that foster these benefits. 2005.g. they are not designed to learn more about working in the global virtual context. Even though more specialized programs are designed for the trainee to experience various cross-cultural interactions. To date.
We have in this paper focused on multicultural teams to explore positive aspects of cross-cultural dynamics in teams. A positive lens can contribute by bringing additional important insights about the conditions likely to foster diversity's benefits in culturally
. we call for research that takes up this theoretical discussion to explore in detail how newcomers deal with uncertainty and anxiety and how these experiences relate with training efforts. 1996). Given the small number of empirical investigations on anxiety and uncertainty as part of newcomers’ adjustment experiences in intercultural settings (e. Richards. computer-mediated Cross Cultural Training primarily provides country-specific knowledge (Fowler & Blohm. Future research may also elaborate the importance of designing technology-based Cross Cultural Training. It might be worthwhile for researchers and HR managers examining online communities like Second Life to see how people interact in this context. 2000.. and has therefore limited the usefulness of the research to informed practice. a bias exists in multicultural team research towards studying the negative more than the positive. and identify some of the processes underlying these effects. Osland.
14 (3). 1991 T. Walking the cultural distance: In search of direction beyond friction.. S. Handbook of intercultural training (3rd ed. L. Thomas and Robin J. “Managing a virtual workplace. 45–56. 81-90. We explored here in more depth key aspects of multicultural team performance that are positive: creativity.
. & Blohm. Drogendijk and L.. Landis & J. Editors Advances in international management. Managing cultural diversity: Implications for organizational competitiveness. 2000. pp. As aptly expressed by Carlos Ghosn. (1991). In D. M. Aug. pp. Zander. M. and communication. its ultimate effects on team outcomes may be dependent on whether consequent internal processes develop into virtuous or vicious circles. David A. pp. Bennett (Eds. T. as well as touching on some other team variables such as multicultural teams’ learning ability and their integrative role in global firms. Thousand Oaks.. Harvard Business Review. Fowler. CA: Sage. In other words. it may be that although cultural diversity serves as an initial condition.
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