Cultural Factors Affecting International Teamwork Dynamics and Effectiveness

By Steven Levitt.

Published by The International Journal of Knowledge, Culture, and Change Management: Annual Review

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Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: January 16, 2015 Free Download

The globalization of markets, and demographic changes in many countries have created a situation that some see as a problem, and others see as an opportunity: multinational teams working together to manage projects, create ideas, solve problems, make decisions, and more. This study explores cultural factors affecting international team dynamics and effectiveness.
In-depth interviews were conducted with 27 individuals who held management or supervisory positions, worked on multinational teams, and spend time working abroad. Their companies represent a broad range of industries such as energy, telecommunications/technology, engineering, architecture, mass media, venture capital, food import/purchasing, and museum exhibition. Collectively, these individuals worked on teams in several dozen countries in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, North and South America, as well as Australia and New Zealand.
The results explore a variety of cultural paradoxes and dialectics, complexities and differences which affect many aspects of collaborative work. The importance of relationship building, personal validations of “self” (identity), and ways power is manifested (including use of food) are discussed. Unfortunately, despite decades of learning about and experience with cultural diversity, international work groups continue to be plagued by ethnocentrism, prejudices, and stereotypes. Recommendations for improving international team culture dynamics are therefore offered.

Keywords: Globalization, Management, Cross-cultural Teams, Organizational Cultures

The International Journal of Knowledge, Culture and Change Management: Annual Review, Volume 13, 2013, pp.9-23. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: January 16, 2015 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 688.518KB)).

Dr. Steven Levitt

Associate Professor, Department of Communication, The University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas, USA