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Race and Media (movies)

josh
June 19, 2015 0 Comment

Why the Facilitating Learning in Multicultural Teams is a good resource

Write 150 word using ” the Facilitating Learning in Multicultural Teams” article from University of Phoenix Library explain why this is a good resource?
(this is the material :

Facilitating Learning
in Multicultural Teams
Maria Cseh
The problem and the solution. Leading, working, and facilitating
learning in multicultural teams represents one of the main
challenges faced by today’s organizations. The advantages associated
with multicultural teams (e.g., the symbiosis of different
wealth of knowledge, ideas, and approaches to life and work)
prove to be the major challenges in working in and leading these
teams (e.g., differences in beliefs, attitudes, behavior patterns,
paradigms, and thus different approaches to learning). Recognizing
the importance of team learning and its facilitation in
meeting the aforementioned challenges, this chapter presents
the effect of cultural values on multicultural team learning as
described in the literature. Theoretical implications as well as
implications for human resource development practitioners are
presented.
Keywords:culture, cultural values, intercultural communication, multicultural
team learning
—“Life is constantly inviting us into much larger worlds than we ever imagined.”
(David Whyte, 1999)
When talking about globalization and its effect on human resources (HR)
in the 21 century corporation at a recent “HRM: Global Perspectives” conference,
Crawford Beveridge, the executive vice president and chief human
resources officer of Sun Microsystems, Inc., emphasized that since the
“globalization train left the station,” HR professionals have had to develop
new institutional arrangements that could facilitate the organization and
learning of multicultural teams formed by a geographically dispersed
knowledge workforce. Globalization has penetrated our thinking, but it is a
long way from thinking to practice. According to Ready, Valentino, and
Gouillart (1994), “successful transformation requires widespread commitment
and involvement; it entails people’s behavior and mindset at least as
much as it entails changing strategic directions” (p. 13). Thus, the need for
HR professionals to guide this transformation is crucial.
Chapter 1
Advances in Developing Human Resources, Vol. 5, No. 1 February 2003 26-40
DOI: 10.1177/1523422302239181
Copyright © 2003 Sage Publications
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Global organizations rely on creative and innovative multicultural teams
to ensure organizational survival and competitive advantage. Recognizing
and understanding cultural diversity in multicultural teams is necessary for
managing the learning processes toward achieving synergistic learning,
characterized by the development of a collectively held and understood
view called collective reframing by Kasl, Marsick, and Dechant (1997).
The purpose of this chapter is to embark on the search for the factors
impacting the patterns of the “magic carpet” of multicultural teamwork and
learning. The texture and intricacies of the patterns of multicultural teamwork
including communication, motivation, decision making, and leadership
have been studied for the past decade. There are also nice patterns that
form the model of team learning and then some empty spaces that leave
users wandering around. The purpose of this chapter is to fill in some of
these spaces with the patterns reflecting the understanding of the factors
impacting learning of multicultural teams. This carpet is a work in progress,
and once patterns are integrated, then it will become magic, allowing multicultural
teams to travel to unknown places with great speed and to learn
together to find their way amidst the colorful and diverse patterns surrounding
them. Thus, this chapter examines the cultural patterns that affect the
team learning processes and conditions that are at the heart of Kasl et al.’s
(1997) team learning model and their movement from the fragmented to the
continuous stage.
The Meaning of Culture
“It is well-founded historical generalization that the last thing to be discovered in any science is
what the science is really about.” (Alfred North Whitehead as cited by White, 1968, p. 20)
Embracing all aspects of human life, culture is a very broad concept, and
finding its meaning and capturing it in definitions has preoccupied anthropologists,
sociologists, and psychologists for many decades. This quest is reflected
in Kroeber and Kluckhohn’s (1952) critical review of concepts and definitions
of culture when half a century ago they already found more than 160 definitions
of the term culture. According to Kluckhohn (1951), culture is to society what
memory is to an individual—a patterned way of thinking, feeling, and reacting.
Geertz (1973) saw culture as the way groups of people solve problems and reconcile
dilemmas, whereas Seelye (1993) defined culture as patterns of everyday
life that enable individuals to relate to their place under the sun.
Culture consists of several layers, the discovery of which requires the
explorer’s curiosity and genuine interest in understanding the culture of a
group of people and the reasons behind their shared beliefs, values, norms,
and attitudes. Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner (1998) presented a model
of culture consisting of three layers. The outer layer represents the explicit
culture, the observable reality of buildings, language, art, monuments,
churches, markets, parades—the tip of the iceberg looming above the water,
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or as Triandis (1972) would call it, the objective elements of culture. These
are the symbols of a deeper level of culture. The middle layer consists of
norms—the shared view of a group of what is “right” and “wrong”—and
values determined by the shared view of a group of what is “good” and
“bad.” Norms are reflected in written laws or levels of social control and
show how one should behave, whereas values relate to the ideals shared by a
group and show how one aspires or desires to behave. The core layer of this
model consists of assumptions about existence embedded in the realization
that the most basic value people strive for is survival. This core meaning of
life has escaped from conscious questioning and has become self-evident
because it is a result of routine responses to the environment. These last two
layers form the nine-tenths of the iceberg lying under the water, or what
Triandis would call subjective elements of culture.
Human resource development (HRD) professionals are expected to reach
to the core layer, understand the meaning of their own culture and the cultures
of the employees in their organizations, and develop a global mindset
(i.e., view of the world) to help multicultural team leaders and members—
and all this under the pressure of time. This could be perceived as an overwhelming
task, especially if one’s explorer desires are not supported by the
organization. My belief that developing awareness of the hurdles on the
learning path has the potential to alleviate the anxiety of the unknown led to
this chapter. This belief comes from my own experience of living and working
in multicultural environments. Twelve years ago, I came to the United
States bringing with me a backpack full of experiences in growing up as a
member of an ethnic minority group, learning several languages, and working
on international cooperation projects in Central and Eastern Europe. At
my arrival, I spoke fluently the English language and was knowledgeable of
how the media (i.e., books, articles, movies, and music) depicted the external
layer of the U.S. culture and people’s everyday life. It became obvious
very soon that I knew only about the tip of the iceberg, and I am still learning
every day about what lies beneath. Although I am an explorer by nature and
enjoy solving the puzzles of life, when faced with some of the hurdles (e.g.,
dilemmas with and finding solutions for relationships with people), I had a
few moments when I longed for the well-known beaten path of my own culture.
But discovering the pieces of the puzzle and understanding their patterns
is highly rewarding. Both before and after my arrival to the United
States, I had the opportunity to work with and observe the work of multicultural
teams. Based on this experience, I believe that the best way to unlock
the creative synergy of these teams is to create spaces for mutual meaning
making through dialogue. Crossing one’s boundaries of understanding leading
to collective reframing requires well-thought-out processes and thus
time. In the following sections of the chapter, I will present the different levels
of culture (i.e., national, corporate or organizational, and professional or
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functional) and their patterns and effect on multicultural team functioning
and learning.
National Culture
The first thought about this topic leads me back to a passage highlighted by
Triandis (1995b) that states that most nations are multicultural. Triandis based
his statement on the fact that although there are about 10,000 cultures in the
world with about 6,170 distinct languages, there are only 200 members of the
United Nations. The quest for understanding national cultural differences
started many decades ago and led to the identification of more than 20 cultural
patterns or dimensions and their implications on work-related attitudes and
behaviors of individuals in organizations (Hall, 1959, 1990; Hofstede, 1980a,
1997; Kluckhohn & Strodtbeck, 1961; Triandis, 1972, 1995a; Trompenaars &
Hampden-Turner, 1998). Before the presentation of characteristics of national
cultures, it is advisable to remember:
Characterizing a national culture does not, of course, mean that every person in the nation has all
the characteristics assigned to that culture. Therefore, in describing national cultures we refer to
the common elements within each nation—the national norm—but we are not describing individuals.
(Hofstede, 1980b, p. 45)
Individualism Versus Collectivism/Communitarianism
One of the value dimensions that differentiate national cultures, which
constitutes the framework of a large number of empirical studies in crosscultural
psychology, is the way people perceive themselves primarily as
individuals (i.e., individualism) or as members of a group (i.e., collectivism
or communitarianism) (Hofstede, 1980a, 1997; Kluckhohn & Strodtbeck,
1961; P. B. Smith, Dugan, & Trompenaars, 1996; Triandis, 1995a;
Trompenaars & Hampden-Turner, 1998). Individualism refers to a loosely
knit social framework in which people have a prime orientation to the self
(e.g., United States, Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, Denmark, Finland,
and Sweden). In contrast, collectivism is viewed as a tight social framework
in which people have a prime orientation to the group’s common goals (e.g.,
Pakistan, Colombia, Greece, Philippines, and India).
Triandis (1995a) noticed that people are not monolithically individualists
or collectivists, thus there are collectivist horizontal cultures characterized
by togetherness (e.g., a kibbutz) and collectivist vertical cultures characterized
by sacrifice for the group and winning in competitions (e.g., China
and India). There are also individualist horizontal cultures characterized by
uniqueness (e.g., Scandinavian cultures) and individualist vertical cultures
characterized by difference in people where one should try his or her best
(e.g., typical corporate culture in the United States).
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The work of multicultural teams is impacted by the individualist or collectivist
preferences of their members, especially as it concerns negotiation,
decision making, and motivation. For example, collectivist cultures are represented
at the negotiation table by a group of people, and they usually
express their wish to confer with their colleagues not present (e.g., Japanese,
Nigerians, and French), whereas individualist cultures will have single
representatives. Decision making in collectivist cultures is based on consensus,
thus requiring much more time. Being aware and understanding
these practices is crucial for leading and facilitating the work and learning of
multicultural teams.
Power Distance
Another value dimension that has a significant effect on the work of
teams is the extent to which people in a society accept the fact that power in
institutions and organizations is distributed unequally (Hofstede, 1980b,
1997). The majority of the 40 countries represented in Hofstede’s (1980b)
study that have large power distance are also collectivist (e.g., Philippines
and India). The way people perceive power has clear implications for the
appropriateness of communication, different management styles, and selfmanagement
of teams. In a culture characterized by high power distance,
autocratic management styles are respected while self-managed teams are
less accepted (Kirkman, Gibson, & Shapiro, 2001).
According Status: Achievement Versus Ascription
One of the cultural dimensions characterizing relationship with people
described by Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner (1998) defines how status
is accorded—based on accomplishments and records versus on birth, kinship,
gender or age, connections, and educational record. It is important to
be aware of this dimension when working in multicultural teams. For example,
ascribing status for reasons other than achievement seems archaic in the
United States, thus very young people can be accorded status, whereas
respect for age and experience is much more valued in cultures such as the
Spanish and Italian. This leads to the importance of understanding the perceived
position of team members when communicating, negotiating, or
using titles (e.g., tied in with the status in organization or educational record).
Relationships and Rules: Universalism Versus Particularism
Another cultural value characterizing relationship with people described
by Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner (1998) defines how we judge other
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people’s behavior by enforcing rule-based behavior and focusing on the
exceptional nature of the circumstances. People of universalist or rulebased
cultures (e.g., Germany and Switzerland) tend to adhere to standards
that are universally agreed on in their culture, whereas those of particularist
cultures (e.g., Venezuela, Nepal, and Middle-Eastern cultures) tend to focus
on the circumstance of the situation regardless of what the rules are. The
importance of relationship building is highly valued in particularist cultures,
thus time should be devoted in nurturing those relationships.
Feelings and Relationships: Neutral Versus Affective Cultures
This dimension defines the degree in which reason and emotion dominates
the nature of our interactions. Members of neutral cultures (e.g.,
Dutch and Swedish) keep their feelings carefully controlled and subdued,
whereas those of affective cultures (e.g., Italians and South European
nations) show their feelings. Feelings can be expressed by using different
voice tonalities. For example, in neutral cultures, the variation of tonality
suggests that the person is not serious, whereas in affective cultures, deep
interest in the discussion is signaled with the use of different tonalities.
Humor is also perceived differently in business communication, and
because its meaning can be easily misinterpreted or misunderstood if the
subtleties of the language are not mastered, its use should be well thought
out. Nonverbal communication (e.g., eye contact) and the space between
people are also manifestations of affective or neutral cultures. The handling
of physical space (e.g., proximity) and conception of space as private and
public, including the assumptions people hold about how safe it is to openly
manifest emotions, was also identified by Hall (1959, 1990) and Kluckhohn
and Strodtbeck (1961) as one of the cultural dimensions.
Involvement and Relationships: Specific Versus Diffuse Cultures
The degree in which we engage others in specific areas of our life or multiple
areas of our life defines the specific versus diffuse cultures with relationship
prescribed by a contract (e.g., task relationship) in specific cultures
and whole person involvement in the business relationship in diffuse cultures
(Trompenaars & Hampden-Turner, 1998). In specific cultures (e.g.,
the United Kingdom, United States, and Switzerland), work and private life
are separated, whereas in diffuse cultures (e.g., China, Nepal, and Nigeria),
everything is connected. Thus, working with members of these cultures will
require more time for building relationships and getting to know people.
Specific and diffuse cultures are also referred to as low- or high-context cultures.
Context was one of the cultural dimensions also identified by Hall
(1959, 1990) and relates to the presentation of information (i.e., how much
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shared knowledge is taken for granted and how much has to be made
explicit) for effective communication. Low-context cultures (e.g., United
States and the Netherlands) tend to be more flexible and allow for members
of other cultures to be part of rule making, whereas high-context cultures
(e.g., Japan and France) are rich and subtle, making it difficult for people
from other cultures to be insiders.
Relation to Time
This dimension identified by Hall (1959, 1990), Kluckhohn and
Strodtbeck (1961), and Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner (1998) defines
how we manage time (e.g., sequential view of time with series of passing
events vs. synchronic view of time with past, present, and future all interrelated).
In sequential cultures, called monochromatic ones by Hall, scheduling
and completion of activities happens one at a time (e.g., Northwestern
Europe and North America), whereas in synchronic cultures or polychromatic
ones, they happen simultaneously (e.g., Japan, Malaysia, and Argentina).
Members of sequential cultures tend to have tight schedules and timetables
and see relationships as more instrumental, whereas those of
synchronic cultures have looser schedules and see relationships as crucial.
Long-term versus short-term time horizon or orientation was also described
by Hofstede (1997). Long-term orientation reflects the degree to which people’s
actions are driven by long-term goals and results rather than the shortterm
results and the need for immediate gratification. Future orientation is
also one of the dimensions analyzed in the GLOBE project (House et al.,
1999), a long-term study of the relationship between national and organizational
culture and leadership, together with uncertainty avoidance, power
distance, institutional collectivism, humane orientation, performance orientation,
group and family collectivism, gender egalitarianism, and
assertiveness.
Relation to Nature
This dimension defines people’s attitudes to the environment by how
they relate to nature (e.g., inner directed with controlling nature by imposing
one’s will on it vs. outer directed as part of the nature by going along with
its laws, directions, and forces) (Kluckhohn & Strodtbeck, 1961;
Trompenaars & Hampden-Turner, 1998). People’s beliefs in living in harmony
with nature or subjugating, dominating nature define the way they live
their daily lives and conduct business. The primary mode of activity, another
cultural dimension described by Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck (1961), refers
to the acceptance of status quo (being) versus the desire to control and
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change one’s situation (doing) and involves both relation to nature and
people.
Uncertainty Avoidance and Masculinity
The first of these two dimensions identified by Hofstede (1980a, 1997)
that was not integrated earlier explains the extent to which a society feels
threatened by uncertain and ambiguous situations and tries to avoid these
situations by providing greater career stability, establishing more formal
rules, not tolerating deviant ideas and behaviors, and believing in absolute
truths and the attainment of expertise (e.g., weak uncertainty avoidance:
Singapore, Denmark, and Sweden; strong uncertainty avoidance: Greece,
Portugal, and Japan). The second dimension, masculinity (vs. femininity)
reflects the extent to which the dominant values in society are masculine,
such as assertiveness, competition, and success, and are emphasized more
than such soft values as quality of life, warm personal relationships, and service
(e.g., masculine: Japan, Austria, and Mexico; feminine: Scandinavian
countries). This dimension was treated as having two patterns—assertiveness
and gender egalitarianism—in the GLOBE project (House et al., 1999)
conducted in 64 cultures.
Organizational and Professional Culture
National cultural values are not the only ones that influence us and define
who we are. Although not as powerful as national culture, our organizational
and professional cultures as well as the cultures of our age group, gender,
and race also have an effect on how we see the world. Adler (2002) highlighted
the importance of organizational culture as a socializing influence
and climate creator while acknowledging that organizational cultures are
shaped by their employees’ national values. Hofstede (1980a) found that
50% of the differences in employees’attitudes and behaviors at a single multinational
organization was explained by national culture. Thus, organizational
cultures are shaped by the cultural preferences of their leaders and
employees as well as by their environments (e.g., technologies and
markets).
Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner (1998) described four types of organizational
cultures using the metaphors of (a) “the family,” (b) “the Eiffel
Tower,” (c) “the guided missile,” and (d) “the incubator.” The family culture
is a person-oriented culture and hierarchical, thus power oriented (i.e., the
leader is regarded as a caring father who knows best what should be done and
makes decisions). The Eiffel Tower culture represents the bureaucratic division
of labor and hierarchy with each role at each level clearly described,
with specific relationships and ascribed status. This culture is the opposite
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of the family one. The guided missile culture is egalitarian, impersonal, and
task oriented. It is not affectionate but neutral. The main focus of teams or
project groups in this culture is completing the task. When superimposed on
the Eiffel Tower organization, it forms a matrix organization. The incubator
culture serves as incubator for self-expressions and self-fulfillment for
employees and is both personal and egalitarian. Because the culture acts as a
sounding board for innovative ideas, the role of people in the incubator is
crucial for confirming, criticizing, developing, finding resources, and completing
an innovative product. In reality, these cultures are not mutually
exclusive, and one organization can have a combination of them.
To understand the influence of organizational cultures on multicultural
team members, HRD professionals have to understand the relationship
between employees and attitudes to authority in the organization; the ways
of thinking and learning; the attitudes to people; the ways of changing, motivating,
and rewarding; and the ways criticism and conflict resolution are
handled in organizations.
Professional Culture
The philosophical background of different professions influences the
way people approach dilemmas and find solutions. In a study of the group
dynamics and performance of nationally and culturally distributed teams
including 71 graduate students from Hong Kong and the Netherlands over
the course of a 7-week project conducted with the support of technology,
Vogel et al. (2001) found that both professional culture and national culture
had an effect on interaction and team dynamics. From a professional culture
perspective, the authors’ assumptions that engineering students and
accounting students develop different ways of thinking based on their discipline
(e.g., accounting as a discipline praises control that would generate
more conservative but dependable behavior, whereas engineering praises
problem solving) was supported by the Dutch participants’ comments
regarding the Hong Kong team members (the accountants) who were perceived
as doing everything strictly by the rule and the Hong Kong participants’
comments that the Dutch participants were more creative and innovative.
Thus, another factor influencing the learning of multicultural team
members is the professional culture they represent.
Intercultural Communication
The only way we can learn about our own and others’ cultural values is
through communication. Because most of these values are tacit and subconscious,
we have to find ways to make them explicit. In describing the identity
negotiation theory that forms the core of intercultural communication,
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Ting-Toomey (1999) referred to mindful intercultural communication. In
the identity negotiation theory, identity is viewed as “reflective self-images
constructed, experienced, and communicated by the individuals within a
culture and in a particular situation” (p. 39), whereas negotiation is defined
as a “transactional interaction process whereby individuals in an
intercultural situation attempt to assert, define, modify, challenge, and/or
support their own and other’s desired self-image” (p. 40). Mindfulness
means a focused attention on our process of communication with others and
awareness of our own and others’ behavior during communication. It
requires integrating our intercultural knowledge, motivations, and skills to
communicate effectively. Intercultural knowledge refers to in-depth understanding
of certain phenomena through formal and informal (i.e., experience
and observations) learning. Motivation refers to our readiness to learn
about and interact with people of other cultures. Some of the skills needed
are mindful observation, listening, clarification skills as well as verbal
empathy, nonverbal sensitivity skills, reframing skills, and collaborative
dialogue skills. In the view of the aforementioned, mindful intercultural
communication will allow for the attainment of the synergistic and continuous
learning stages of multicultural teams.
Impact of Culture on Team Learning Theory
The different worldviews of the members of a multicultural team, influenced
by their cultures, impact their understanding of the situation within the team
(e.g., task interpretation) and thus define the fragmented learning stage of the
team. In this stage, although members learn individually during the process of
task setting, they do not exchange their deeply held views, do not experiment,
and thus do not cross boundaries (Kasl et al., 1997). In the pooled stage of learning,
members of the team share their views, listen to each other but are not likely
to change their frameworks of understanding reality. The synergistic learning
stage is characterized by collective reframing, whereas in the continuous learning
stage, collective reframing has become the norm, and members have developed
the habit of seeking out and valuing diversity to broaden their perspectives
and the team’s experiments within the organization extend learning to others.
Understanding how the cultural values described in this chapter impact each of
these stages, the occurrence of any shift in cultural values during these stages,
and the reason behind such shift will allow for the expansion of existing learning
theory while offering practical solutions for multicultural team members meeting
hurdles on the track of learning. As Kasl et al. (1997) emphasized:
Having healthy group dynamics does not guarantee collective learning. More is needed. The
team-learning processes that are fostered by supportive conditions included cognitive processes
(framing, reframing, integrating perspectives) and two specific, linked behaviors (crossing
boundaries, experimenting) that are not fully addressed in the organizational literature. Teams
can work their way through the developmental stages of forming, norming, storming, and perCseh
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forming (Tuckman, 1965), yet never challenge dysfunctional assumptions or create new knowledge
through strategies such as reframing or perspective integration. (p. 231)
Thus, understanding the cultural factors that may impact the learning process of
multicultural teams is important for team members understanding of their challenges
as well as for facilitating learning in multicultural teams.
Implications for Future Research and
Theory Development
Our ability to conduct international HRD research that produces useful results depends not so
much on our choice of methodologies but on our ability to incorporate in our investigation culture
as a major influence on phenomena under investigation. And to do this we need a better
understanding of our own and others’ culturally conditioned perspectives and assumptions.
(Ardichvili & Kuchinke, 2002, pp. 161-162)
Although there are many empirical studies of the effect of culture on group
dynamics and on HR practices (Ardichvili & Gasparishvili, 2001; Aycan et al.,
2000; Cotton, McFarlin, & Sweeney, 1993; Cseh, Halmos, Koltai, Krisztián,
Nemeskéri, & Németh, 2002; Day, Dosa, & Jorgensen, 1995; Hofstede, 1980b;
House et al., 1999; Kirkman et al., 2001; Kuchinke, 1999; McCalman, 1996;
Neff, 1995; Salk & Brannen, 2000; K. Smith & Berg, 1997; Trompenaars &
Hampden-Turner, 1998; Vogel et al., 2001) and conceptual discussions for
understanding and working with cross-cultural differences (Bento, 1995; Hall,
1959, 1990; Higgs, 1996; Myers, Kakabadse, McMahon, & Spony, 1995;
Rasmusson, 2000; Schreiber, 1996), there is a need for empirical studies of the
effect of cultural factors on the process of learning of cross-cultural or multicultural
teams.
The lack of systematic treatment of these kinds of factors in existing team
learning models is a limitation on their ability to treat the phenomena on a
global basis. Addressing this limitation will provide better guidance to practitioners
working in global organizations or with globally diverse learning
teams. Recognizing the complexities, both philosophical and pragmatic, of
conducting cross-cultural research, especially that most cross-cultural
research involves the researcher(s) from one culture and the participants of
research from another culture(s), Ardichvili and Kuchinke (2002) suggested
using a combination of methods that promote mutual learning and
understanding across cultural context during the research process. The
methods of cultural deconstruction (i.e., systematic investigation by the
researcher of how the national, organizational, professional culture, and
demographic characteristics influence his or her research process, interpretation,
and reporting of findings), appreciative inquiry (i.e., mutual valuing
by making attempts to understand others’ view of the world), and mutual
perspective taking (i.e., creation of an interpretive space that supports the
interaction, transaction, and negotiation of multiple perspectives) are recommended
by the authors. They believe that these methods provide tools to
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“bringing into investigation multiple voices (those of researchers, subjects,
and other stakeholders) and making different perspectives explicit”
(p. 159), thus alleviating the problem of accurately describing the insiders’
accounts. Further research is needed to investigate the effect of cultural values
on team learning processes, conditions that support team learning and
modes of functioning as a learning system of Kasl et al.’s (1997) team learning
model.
Implications for HRD Practitioners
The challenge faced by HRD practitioners is to find ways to create and
support a learning environment that will allow multicultural team members
to reach the stages of synergistic and continuous learning as described by
Kasl et al. (1997).
HRD professionals have to be first aware of and understand their own culture
to become aware of and understand how multicultural teams function
and learn. They should seek and be supported in developing a global mindset
that encompasses curiosity, openness, flexibility, cultural awareness,
capacity for change and trust and mindful intercultural communication
skills. HRD professionals working in global organizations should have
extensive experience (i.e., at least 6 months) in an international setting to get
exposed to working with other cultures and their human resource
approaches and to develop a respect for the values and practices of other cultures
and a tolerance for ambiguity.
HRD professionals should start building awareness and understanding of
different cultures before being assigned to a different cultural setting than
their own (i.e., international assignment) by using both formal (i.e., training
classes and workshops) and informal (i.e., observation and informal interviews)
learning strategies. Talking with people of different cultural backgrounds
either at work or in the community will help in understanding our
own culture as well as the culture of the other people. Asking questions
could validate and explain what we had learned from classes, workshops,
and printed or electronic media and could make explicit the hidden values of
culture. In talking with expatriates working in our organizations, we can ask
about how business is conducted differently and about how relationships are
built and maintained differently in their culture. Observation of everyday
life in our communities and at work could also give us clues about cultural
values and organizational and professional cultures. The same learning
strategies will be very helpful when moving to the first international assignment.
All of the aforementioned will allow HRD professionals to help team
members and their managers develop systems thinking to understand the
global scenarios in which they are conducting their work and thus facilitate
learning.
Cseh / MULTICULTURAL TEAMS 37
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In conclusion, the following words of Dechant, Marsick, and Kasl (1993)
clearly summarize the importance of our quest to help multicultural teams
understand their learning process and navigating the magic carpet: “By
helping groups understand themselves as learning bodies, they come to perceive
themselves in a different way. As a result they can take steps to accelerate
their collective learning and improve their effectiveness” (p. 12).
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