Multicultural Team Analysis Potential and Risk of the Multicultural team and How to manage it Content 1. Introduction………………………………………………………………………1 1. 1 Definition of team and multicultural team……………………………………. 1 1. 2 Influence of multicultural teamwork in business activity……………………. 1 2. Benefits of multicultural team………………………………………………2 2. 1 More familiar with the global market…………………………………………… 2 2. 2 More creative in developing ideas and solutions………………………………3 3. Potential conflicts in multicultural team………………………………… 3. 1 Theory of Tuckman’s group development model……………………. …4 3. 2 Cultural dimensions related to conflicts………………………………….. 5 3. 1 Direct versus Indirect communication………………………………………. 6 3. 2 Trouble with accents and fluency……………………………………………. 6 3. 3 Differing attitudes toward hierarchy and authority…………………………7 3. 4 Conflicting norms for decision making………………………………………8 4. How to manage a multicultural team……………………………………. 8 5. Conclusion………………………………………………………………………10 6. Reference……………………………………………………………………….. 11 1. Introduction . 1 Definition of team and multicultural team In 1994, Stephen Robbins who is the authority in organisation behavior and work at San Diego State University business school, presented the definition of team as a formal cluster which includes the individuals who work cooperatively in order to achieve a same goal and target. And in the following decade, the idea of “team” took the world by storm. Teamwork is the sprite of voluntary co-operation and concerted efforts to be shown in order to meet the setting target.
It can mobilise all source and intelligence of all members in the team, and delete the disharmony and injustice, and meanwhile to provide the appropriate feedback to the single-hearted and selfless members. When the teamwork is formed with self willing, it will generate a strong and sustainable power. In terms of multicultural team, it is defined as three of more cultural background is represented on the ethnic level. It used to be large international organizations in the last decade, where multicultural groups were in everyday use, but nowadays most multinational companies operate such task forces. 1. Influence of multicultural teamwork in business activity The challenges of multicultural team facing in the current working environment is reflected among the different communication and working style, different methods of solving problems, and different preferences concerning conflict resolution which caused by them inherent diversity. In such circumstance, the basic requirement of the team members is the ability of cross culture competences to ensure the successful cooperation. As the inherent diversity in multicultural team, it is essential to support with members best efforts to make sure the successful consequence.
Either learning from the experiences, or through the reflection studying, it is beneficial to the better cooperate and coordinate among each other and reduce the conflicts occurred among the members. Following a discussion will focus on the potential and risk may happen in a multicultural team, and some suggestion to manage such a team will also be presented. 2. Benefits of multicultural team If the multicultural team consists with the same aim and goal, it will essentially show an endless power in providing ideas, solving problems, taking effective and efficient action to get closed to the final targets.
And the benefit of a multicultural team cannot be ignored. 2. 1 More familiar with the global market The multicultural teams can provide much significant information in international marketing activities. Due to the definition of the international customer are considered by the international market demand, it can help the organisation to understand the demand of the international customers under the multicultural teams’ performances in international marketing. And also, the multicultural group can do the effort to the organisation on the development of the relationship with the international customers. Diversity in the work place helps organizations develop their skills to understand clients’ needs and to have relations with them” (Wright and Noe, 1996). The multicultural teams bring the international professional knowledge, behaviors of decision-making and management to the companies. 2. 2 More creative in developing ideas and solutions The multicultural teams provide and collect the viewpoints from kinds of organisation. Because the members in multicultural team belong to different cultures, each member in this multicultural team brings a unique angle of view and method to solve problem.
Hoffman (1961) suggested that “diverse group of individuals should be expected to have a broad range of knowledge, expertise, and perspectives than homogenous groups of individuals do”. The traditional team possesses the limited skills and knowledge as it is a kind of team that belongs to the homogeneous culture. On the other hand, multicultural team is consisted by the members come from different cultures and creativities, and provide variety solution to problems. According to Triandis and colleagues, who specifically argued that “heterogeneity was most beneficial for tasks requiring creativity” (Triandis, Hall, & Ewen, 1965).
The performance of heterogeneity or multicultural group is much better than homogeneous, because they collect and gather the different view, so the group can come into contact with new ways and methods, and as well as how to deal with problems and situations, which result that the performance of heterogeneous groups is better than the homogenous groups. “Empirically, heterogeneous groups have been shown to outperform homogeneous groups, as the expression of alternative perspectives can lead to novel insights and solutions” (Nemeth, 1986). 3.
Potential conflicts in multicultural team As the world has turned to more and more globalized, the multicultural team in international companies play a significant role nowadays. The knowledge of multicultural team is not only concerned by senior managers and executives but also has deep relationship to the employees. However, some relevant abnormal conflicts block the performance of multicultural team. The diversity of cultures in different countries will influence people’s thoughts and behaviors, and it may come with some conflicts in Team Corporation. 3. Theory of Tuckman’s group development model There are two theories which focus on the inherent conflict in the team. One of them, which is also the famous one, is the Tuckman’s (1965) classical group development model. In Tuckman’s analysis, he found that development always come with four successive stages: testing-dependence, conflict, cohesion and functional roles in the interpersonal group activities. By the foundation of this analysis, Tuckman established a developmental model includes five stages: forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning.
In the forming stage, team members do the plan of the plenty of the tasks. The storming stage is where the members experience “conflict and polarization around interpersonal issues, with concomitant emotional responding in the task sphere”. The next stage is norming, which is identified as member change their feeling and cohesiveness. The following stage is performing stage, where “interpersonal structure becomes the tool of task activities. Roles become flexible and functional, and group energy is channeled into task” (Tuckman, 1965, pp. 84-99). And the last stage is adjourning stage, at this step, the team faces to be disbanded as the objectives and goals have already achieved. In this group developmental model, the conflict multicultural group is inherent at the storming stage in the development process of team. In such sector, team member become argumentative to others as the ideas are expressed by their own and resist the group structure. In another aspect, the ‘infighting’ among the team members results in the struggle for the interpersonal relationship.
In the task parts, individuals’ emotions are caused by the differences between personal-orientation and the demands. In one words, group members should adjust their emotions and the second stage of team development (Tuckman, 1965, p. 365). So it can be imaged that culture will influence this stage and cause conflicts in other stage of team development. 3. 2 Cultural dimensions related to conflicts The culture dimension of high and low-context, personal space and time presented by Hall (1976), and power distance, uncertainty avoidance, ndividualism and collectivism, masculinity and long-term orientation presented by Hofstede (2001) provide the evidence and theories to analysis what aspects will affect the different behaviors in multicultural team members from different country. In general, Jeanne Brett, Kristin Behfar, and Mary C. Kern (2008) in Harvard Business School classified the conflicts may occur in a multicultural team as four parts based on the theories of Halls and Hofstede, which are Direct versus indirect communication; Trouble with accents and fluency; differing attitudes toward hierarchy and authority; and conflicting norms for decision making.
In the following paragraphs, these sectors will be discussed specifically. 3. 2. 1 Direct versus Indirect communication For this factor, it can be related to high-context and low-context which is presented by Halls that people from the high-context country always show their ideas in a explicit way, especially when they hold an opposite view with others in order to save someone’ face or present their own standpoint facing to their subordinates. However, it will indeed confuse the members from low-context countries.
For example, individuals from low-context country express crucial information to other’s by a specific and direct determination, like ‘I prefer option A, the reason is …’ And in the same situation will be expressed more explicit by the high-context culture members, they will deliver the merit and demerit of both options, then say such as “option A is good, but option B also has advantage. ’ So the direct communication people have difficulty understanding about their view.
The differences between direct and indirect communication can cause serious damage to relationships when team projects run into problems. There is another example which people from high-context country enter into a conflict. In a team formed by Japanese and American, when an American elaborates him / her idea to the group, the Japanese often close their eyes just because they are thinking about what the American say, however, the American consider this as misbehavior and feels very unhappy about that. 3. 2. 2 Trouble with accents and fluency
Although in the international business, English become the universal language, misunderstandings or deep frustration may occur because of nonnative speakers’ accents, lack of fluency, or problems with translation or usage. It always makes the team work ineffective and inefficient, because too much time is waste on the explanations. And also, these may also influence perceptions of status or competence. For example, compared with native speakers, the nonnative speakers feel many times those, because of the discrepancy of language, they have no words to convey what they are thinking.
The nonnative members in the team may be more professional in some areas than native members. However, it is difficult for them to deliver their knowledge to others and make them recognise and utilise their experiences. If the teammates are so patient and can always keep high interesting with the topic, the team can get more information and method to solve problem, otherwise, interpersonal conflicts will increase. The nonnative speak member may feel frustrated and the motivation to contribution will be lost, even may be anxious about their performances evaluations and future career prospects. 3. . 3 Differing attitudes toward hierarchy and authority The challenge from a multicultural group is that, through the design, the group has a flat structure. However, some team member from the high hierarchy country are treated according this position in the organisation, they will feel uncomfortable if are treated as equal with others. If they defer to higher-status team members, their behavior will be seen as appropriate when most of the team comes from a hierarchical culture. But it will damage their position and reputation, and even face to disgrace if more groups come with the equal culture.
When the team members think they have been treated unjustifiable as the different culture norms, the whole project maybe destroyed. 3. 2. 4 Conflicting norms for decision making Due to the tremendous culture discrepancy, when there is decision need to be made, how fast to make a decision and how much the analysis should be done before decision-making need to be considered ahead. It is not surprise that the manager from the United States want to make a fast decision with a few analyses compared with managers come from other countries. 4. How to manage a multicultural team
According to the discussion above, it can be obviously know that an effective multicultural team is crucial to an organisation, although it comes with some conflicts also. So how to manage the multicultural team to make it more effectively to achieve the goal and target, and create more benefits to the enterprise is very important. In the following paragraph, the essential factors of an effective multicultural team and the strategy about the multicultural team management will be discussed. An important part to manage the multicultural team is to manage the discussing divergence generated by cultural diversity.
While the team enter into the third stage-“norming”, according to Tuckman (1965) which is mentioned above, it will come with the discussion differences. Specific but impersonal and general situations can be worked out. Then they can discuss the different viewpoints produced by cultural diversity, and it may be the key point need to be discussed. During the fourth stage in Tuckman’s group development, the specific incidents happened among individuals and groups can be discussed and solved towards to the targets.
If the correct direction can be stable as the parts of discussion at the beginning, then in this stage of group development, it is obvious to lead to a productivity discussion (Tuckman, 1965). On the other hand, in order to solve the conflicts and achieve the productivity cross culture cooperation, a proper senior manager should be choose to allocate job and identify the distinct stages and manage each stage separately. So the qualified managers or leaders are very important. They must ensure the whole team process under order, and then make the whole team to express the maximum potential and create more performance.
In order to achieve this target, the manger should possess abilities as below according to Abbassi and Hollman (1991): 1. The people from different backgrounds and ethics have the different values and attitudes, so the managers should consider and deal with it to remedy the organisation life. 2. The managers should often communicate and respect to the people who have different cultures and values. They should concern about the viewpoints from minority members and employees, and make sure they are included in the formal and informal conditions. 3.
The managers should avoid stereotyping anyone from any culture. 4. The managers should provide the sense of psychological safety to team members and help them to adapt the current environment. 5. The managers should be tolerant and easy going. And beside this, they should avoid to highlight and force others to accept their own culture and values. 6. The manager should trust their own thoughts in dealing with foreign staffs. 5. Conclusion Teamwork is the sprite of voluntary co-operation and coordinated endeavor in order to meet the target that is set.
And all source and intelligence of all members can be mobilized in the team, and teamwork can eliminate the disharmony and iniquity. Meanwhile, teamwork also can provide the appropriate feedback to the members who are guileless and unselfish. And the multicultural teams can provide much important information in international marketing activities, and it can help the organization to understand the demand of the international customers under the multicultural teams’ performances in international marketing.
And also, the multicultural group can make an effort for the organization on the development of the relationship with the international customers. Due to the culture difference, some different behaviors always cause some problems in the multicultural teams, which are direct vs. indirect communication, the trouble that is about the accent and volubility, the attitudes toward hierarchy and authority and conflicting norms that is for decision making. In order to solve these problems to make teams work more efficiently, the key point is the manager of the teams.
For example, the managers should remedy the organization life. And the managers should often communicate and respect to the people who have different cultures and values, and they should avoid being with the preconceived idea that anyone from any culture and highlighting and forcing others to accept their own culture and values. The managers should provide the sense of moral safety to all team members and help them to adapt the current environment. Furthermore, the managers should be good-tempered and easy-going, and they also should trust their own thoughts in dealing with foreign staffs.
As long as the managers do their best to do all things below, the multicultural teamwork will call into being a strong and sustainable power. 6. Reference Abbassi, S. M. and Hollman, K. W. (1991), “Managing cultural diversity: the challenges of the 90s”, ARMA Records Management Quarterly, Vol. 25 No. 3, pp. 24-32. Cited by Elbaz D (1998). “The management of multicultural group conflict”. Team Performance Management, Vol. 4 No. 5, 1998, pp. 230-232. Available from http://www. emeraldinsight. com/journals. htm? ssn=1352-7592&volume=4&issue=5&articleid=882796&show=pdf [Accessed 8th May, 2011] Ali Imran Liaqat, Bilal Afzal Khan, Muhammad Awais Ejaz Khan(2008). Emerging Role of Teams in Multicultural Organizations. Master Thesis, Blekinge Institute of Technology. Available from http://www. netlearning2002. org/fou/cuppsats. nsf/all/7247d1a052f24b4ac125748b0021d218/$file/Emerginng%20Role%20of%20Teams%20in%20Multicultural%20Organizations. pdf [Accessed 8th May, 2011] Balazs H, Eva H (2005). Kiss the Prince and Find the Frog: Expectations and Reality About the Effectiveness of Multicultural Teams in Business Settings.
Business Studies, Volume 3, PP: 11-19. Available from http://gtk. uni-miskolc. hu/files/92 [Accessed 5th May, 2011] Brett J, Behfar K, Kern C. M. (2006). The Essential Guide to Leadership: Managing Multicultural Teams. Harvard Business Review. Available from http://www. paaba. org/events/HBR_EssentialGuidetoLeadership_web. pdf [Accessed 4th May, 2011] Gardenswarlz, L. and Rowe, A. (1993), Managing Diversity: A Complete Desk References and Planning Guide, Irwing/Peffer and Company, pp. 107-33. Cited by Elbaz D (1998). “The management of multicultural group conflict”.
Team Performance Management, Vol. 4 No. 5, 1998, pp. 230-232. Available from http://www. emeraldinsight. com/journals. htm? issn=1352-7592&volume=4&issue=5&articleid=882796&show=pdf [Accessed 8th May, 2011] Guilherme M, Glaser E (2010). The Intercultural Dynamics of Multicultural Working. 1st Edition. Bristol: Multilingual Matters. Available from http://books. Google. co. uk/books? hl=zh-TW&lr=&id=ICD-Fo4i9ukC&oi=fnd&pg=PA186&dq=why+multicultural+teamwork+exists&ots=z8BEKV-xhP&sig=Q9DFM1mxo9EzSQzI5tVmbh_7pHI#v=onepage&am