Handbook for Working with Culturally Diverse Geographically Dispersed Teams
Handbook for Working with
Culturally Diverse Geographically
OM 304 Global and Cross-Cultural Perspectives: Dealing with New
People, Cultures, Places and Technologies with Gary Fontaine, Ph.D.
Team Teal with Zeal
Carol Preston Brown
July 30, 2005
Table of Contents
FAQ or Frequently Asked Questions 2
Chapter 1: Where do we begin? Assessment 6
Self Assessment 6
Team Assessment - Now That You Understand Yourself
What About the Team? 8
Assessing Situational Environments 9
Chapter 2: Expatriates – So You Are Going on an Adventure 12
Chapter 3: A Word about the communication and how… 15
Technology and Communication 15
The Challenge of Asynchronous Communication 16
Chapter 4: Training and Leadership 20
Leadership Development 20
Intercultural Training Issues 22
Chapter 5: How Do You Know What Motivates Other Members of the
Team? How do you Trust Your Team 27
Chapter 6: What Do You Absolutely Positively Need to Know? 30
Psychological Processes in Intercultural Relations 30
Conclusion: The Happy Ending – in no way finished… 33
“To understand one another, we must still depend on the oldest system of all:
human imagination, tolerance, determination and the will to learn continuously
FAQ or Frequently Asked Questions
Why is a handbook needed for global teams?
“Anyone operating in or leading global teams must clearly take into account the
team members’ cultural background in order to be effective…..When members of
different national cultures come together, their basic templates for conducting
interdependent action often differ greatly. ….These differences can damage
business relationships, as one person interprets another’s words or behavior in a
way in which it was not intended, and more important, neither person recognizes
that the misinterpretation has occurred.” (Mendenhall, p.159)
Cultural acumen is dependent upon the skill, the ability to receive information, dispense
information, implement process and procedure, empathy, sensitivity, and willingness, to
name a few. With lack of knowledge in a new cultural setting, the individual can be
rendered immobile. Simple techniques, resources and tools, or where to find more
information can ease the burden of a newly forming team.
“Two sets of empirical studies have shown that when multicultural groups engage in
effective integration processes, they perform at least as well, sometimes better than
homogenous teams.” (Mendenhall, p.160) “Business performance yields better results
when management practices are congruent with national culture.” (Mendenhall, p.159)
What do you mean by culture?
There are many different definitions of culture dating back to the 1800’s. Here are some
Ting-Toomey definition: “Culture is a learned system of meanings that fosters a
particular sense of group identity and community among its group members. It is a
complex frame of reference that consists of patterns of traditions, beliefs, values, norms,
symbols, and meanings that are shared to varying degrees by interacting members of a
community (Landis, Bennett, Bennett, p. 218)".
Defined as ‘the shared way of life of a group of people’: what is shared is their culture;
who shares it is the social group or society. (Landis, Bennett & Bennett, p. 167)
The first definition by Tyler in (1871) reads ”that complex whole which includes
knowledge, belief, art, morals, laws, customs and any other capabilities and habits
acquired by man as a member of society (Landis, Bennett & Bennett, p.167)".
Linton (1936) defined culture as “the total social heredity of mankind.”(Landis, Bennett
& Bennett, p. 168)
Herskovits (1948) stated that ‘culture is the man-made part of the environment’. (Landis,
Bennett & Bennett, p. 168)
Kroeber and Kluckhohn (1952) suggested that there are six major classes of definition of
culture to be found in the anthropological literature.
• Descriptive –attempt to list aspects thought to be examples of culture
• Historical – emphasize the accumulation of tradition over time rather than
enumerating the total range of cultural phenomena. Often heritage or heredity are
frequently used in these definitions.
• Normative – emphasize shared rules that govern…usually not clearly observable
found behind overt activity; implicit rather than explicit
• Psychological – emphasize features like adjustment, problem solving, learning,
• Structural – emphasize the pattern or organization of culture features that hold it
• Genetic- emphasize the origin, or genesis of culture. Within this category there
are three main answers given: culture arises because it is adaptive to the habitat of
the habitat of a group, out of social interaction, and out of a creative process that
is a characteristic of the human species. (Landis, Bennett & Bennett, p. 168)
Culture is the product and result of labor, a part of the same process. Culture unifies, in
GDTs or geographically dispersed teams, conception and execution. Synonymous with
outcomes, it is the product of labor and is a metaphor of organizational history. It also
summarizes how a GDT will identify and distinguish itself.
Isn’t that stereotyping?
“Participants in diversity programs sometimes resist the idea of subjective culture
because it seems like a 'label.' They justifiably are trying to avoid cultural stereotypes.
Unfortunately, the answer to how much stereotyping may be avoided is often to “treat
everyone as an individual. This is its own form of cultural chauvinism, imposing a
Western notion of individualism on every situation. It is more beneficial to avoid cultural
stereotypes by using accurate cultural generalizations…based on systemic cross-cultural
research. They refer to predominant tendencies among groups of people so they are not
labels for individuals. A given individual may exhibit the group tendency, a lot, a little or
not at all. So, cultural generalizations must be applied to individuals as tentative
hypotheses, open to verification. Further, cultural generalizations can be used to describe
cultural groups at varying “levels of abstraction.” For example, cultural groupings at a
very high level like Eastern or Western cultures, or a relatively specific grouping such as
African American and European American. Because people have multi-layered cultural
identities, it is appropriate to use generalizations at several levels of abstraction
simultaneously. For instance, someone could be described as belonging to groups like
Americans, Latinos, South-Westerners, males, and engineers.” Because of their
similarities to stereotypes, generalizations need to be used cautiously and be based on
research not personal experience and comparisons made at the same level of abstraction.
(Landis, Bennett, Bennett, p.151.) Going back to the definition or any one of the
definitions we find solace in the inclusion rather than the exclusion of any group within a
culture. The difference being stereotyping is based in commonalities.
So whose culture is best? Do we adopt yours mine or ours?
Each culture has the power of survival and each culture exists on its own. By utilizing the
inherent characteristics of any group you develop greater strength. “The most effective
cultural teams develop a combination of (1) common norm followed by everyone and (2)
a norm of adapting to individual’s own preferences. The latter strategy is possible
because the various sets of norms are not as often incompatible as they are simply
different.” (Mendenhall, p. 161) For example, one culture might encourage speaking out
publicly whereas it is discouraged in another. Both preferences could be accommodated
by adopting a strategy in which participants give feedback in email which is brought to
the common meeting forum by designated individuals.
Can’t we just get started and figure it out as we go along?
“Davison discovered that it is necessary to implement “team basics” at the beginning. In
particular the team has to bring to the surface and respect hidden cultural diversity, and
the working method and performance goals must be agreed upon.” Starting work
immediately without clarifying the basics will most likely lead to loss of efficiency in the
course of teamwork. (Mendenhall, p.216) With a basis of respect and a willingness to
listen you can start something, but with a basis of knowledge team development is
The GDT participant, to become proficient in navigating cultural environments, must
begin with, at the very least, knowing where to get information if the individual does not
have the information. A handbook facilitates the ease by which to get the creative juices
flowing. The presentation that this is an all-inclusive “we-can-get-you-out-of-any-shark
infested-cultural waters” is not what this book is about. It is only the beginning. The
motivation to develop expertise in cultural interaction in GDTs is incumbent upon the
Chapter 1: Where do we begin? Assessment
It has been said that what culture hides, it hides most effectively from its own participants
(Hall, 1959/1981, p.30)" (quoted in Peppas, 2004).
We must know how to deal with the person in the mirror before we can deal with those
of whom we have little control. In the book Multinational Work Teams: A New
Perspective the authors Earley and Gibson state, “There is the value of self-awareness,
that is to say that all individuals seek to determine their position and purpose in the
world. It refers to the fundamental question of who we are in our social system. Self-
definition is the single most critical value and it underlies many of our actions”. Self is a
complicated and diverse topic that is not at times easily understood. The way we act and
react to the environment around us is based on many interlocking forces. It has been said
that we don’t choose our parents. Likewise we usually have little power over the
circumstances in which we grow up. Certain values and beliefs are instilled in us as we
grow. Later in life we gain more control of the subject matter we choose to assimilate.
We begin to travel down certain pathways of interest eventually settling on a lifestyle that
suits us. This lifestyle may include leadership responsibilities. Those leadership
responsibilities may include interaction with different cultures. Leadership means many
things to many people but one universal theme that is always prevalent is the fact that
leaders deal with people. Relationships must be developed. For that reason we will
explore 5 dimensions of how we relate to other people. Once we know what our beliefs
are, we create a lens from which we can view and interact with the world around us.
Fons Trompenaars and Charles Hampden-Turner describe these five dimensions in great
detail in their book Riding the Waves of Culture; Understanding Diversity in Global
Business The group of five is listed below with a layman’s explanation in parenthesis.
1. Universalism versus particularism (rules versus relationships)
2. Communitarianism versus individualism (the group versus the individual)
3. Neutral versus emotional (the range of feelings expressed)
4. Diffuse versus specific (the range of involvement)
5. Achievement versus ascription (how status is accorded)
We will discuss each trait enough to allow you to get a sense of which one pertains to you
but we will not go as in-depth as Trompenaars and Turner did. Keep in mind that as you
become aware of your own beliefs that you keep an open mind to those traits which may
not apply to you but to people with whom you may someday supervise or interact.
Many metaphors come to mind when we talk about the differences between universalism
and particularism. Do you like things to be black and white or do you prefer the gray
area? Universalists believe that a deal is a deal and if you say you are going to do
something then by god you do it. They can spend valuable time just getting to know you,
which can be unnerving for Universalists. Businesses can benefit by having people from
both groups work together. The culture blends the 'cold' business-like Universalist with
the 'warm' people-friendly Particularist to create a balance.
As in the case of universalism and particularism, it is probably truer to say that these
dimensions are complementary, not opposing, preferences. They can each be effectively
reconciled by an integrative process, a universalist that learns its limitations from
particular instances, for example, and by the individual voluntarily addressing the needs
of the larger group (Trompenaars, Turner 1998). Many people have found that they ride
the fence with regard to this dimension. Depending on the circumstance a person may
take the lead or settle into the group setting.
Individualists are those people that ideally achieve alone and assume personal
responsibility. Communitarians are more group oriented and usually need a consensus by
others to make a decision. The two groups working together work as a check and
balances system which prevents spontaneous decisions and long drawn out debates. The
trick to dealing with this trait is agreeing on the concept of time. Individuals must be
patient with communitarians and communitarians must be able to conduct group business
in an efficient time sensitive manner.
In relationships between people, reason and emotion both play a role. Which of these
dominates will depend upon whether we are affective, that is we show our emotions, in
which case we probably get an emotional response in return, or whether we are
emotionally neutral in our approach (Trompenaars & Hampden-Turner 1998). Neutral
people will always win the poker game when playing affective people. They are all
business and personal issues rarely make it into the workplace. People who are affective
wear their emotions on their sleeves. Most dealings become dramatic and animated.
Personal baggage is always a threat to interfere with workplace issues. Gender plays a
part in these differences but it is not meant to be stereotypical. Both traits can appear in
both genders. Emotion can also be influenced by stress, eating habits, self-esteem and so
on. Sifting through the outbursts will allow a good leader to get the most out of both
Closely related to whether we show emotions in dealing with other people is the degree
to which we engage others in specific areas of life and single levels of personality, or
diffusely in multiple areas of our lives and at several levels of personality at the same
time (Trompenaars & Hampden-Turner 1998). Specific leaders can be characterized as
very direct purposeful individuals. They have strong beliefs and are not shy about sharing
those beliefs with anyone close enough to listen. Diffuseness in people is shown by
ambiguity and tactful communications. As a manager you must realize those under you
who need specific instructions and those who view vague instructions as a license to
explore new horizons on company time.
The fifth dimension addresses status; both earned and ascribed. This dimension has
several components which can have a major impact on the culture of the company.
Ascription oriented companies extensively use titles to clarify their position within the
company. Some cultures still hang value on titles while others do not. Your situation will
some times be decided geographically. Achievement oriented companies’ value the
achievements of their people and reward those people based on those achievements.
Respect for superiors is based on how effectively his or her job is performed and how
adequate their knowledge (Trompenaars, Turner 1998). Gender issues fade away because
emphasis is placed on achievement and not whether the person is male or female.
These five dimensions that we have briefly discussed are universal throughout the world.
As was previously stated, geography may play a bigger part than one might think. That
combined with differences in the concept of time present many challenges for today’s
culturally diverse organizations. The lens from which one views the world is paramount
to the actions one might take in dealing with that world. He or she may change
perspectives based on the level of management one possesses and the class of people in
which one may interact with. We believe that is ok. We stress however that one look
inward before attempting to lead. We also stress that your way of doing things may not
always be the right way. We offer this final bit of advice.
“Seek first to understand, then to be understood (Covey, 2004)
Team Assessment -- Now that you understand yourself what about the
One of the important overall strategies for success of internationally dispersed teams is that of
assessment. This is one of the initial steps and is a continuing process throughout an
Identifying the Participants
Who may be the likely most successful candidates for international teamwork?
There are many salient attitudes and characteristics. The Overseas Assignment Inventory
identifies 14 predictors to help choose team members. A useful checklist may include:
1. Expectations: How realistic and informed are the expectations he or she holds
regarding living and working in the context of this foreign culture?
2. Open-mindedness: How would we rate their receptivity to different beliefs and
3. Respect for others’ beliefs: A sincere and non-judgmental interest in the political
and religious beliefs of others is evident.
4. Trust in people: Does she or he have the ability to convey and encourage mutual
trust among co-workers and associates?
5. Tolerance: The capacity to withstand and even embrace the unfamiliar is a needed
6. Personal control: Where is he on the continuum of internal vs. external locus of
control? An internal locus of control is associated with persistence and extra effort
when confronted with change.
7. Flexibility: How able is this person to consider new ideas, receive and accept
8. Patience: This is a major skill when dealing with differences in time perception
9. Adaptability: Is this potential team member able to socialize comfortably with
new and unfamiliar groups of people?
10. Self-confidence/initiative: A person able to trust her own self- judgments while
unafraid of accepting new ones is more likely to do well on an international
11. Sense of humor: This quality is an important aspect of effective intercultural
12. Interpersonal interest: Sincere interest and concern for others is crucial to his
effectiveness and happiness in this foreign workplace.
13. Interpersonal harmony: Are the social skills of ability to accept, empathize
and mediate personal and professional relationships evident?
14. Spouse/family communication: Success in adjusting to a new culture is
enhanced when communication is good among family members. Honest self-
appraisal by the prospective team member can prevent premature departure from
a foreign appointment (Fetterolf, 1989).
A thorough needs assessment of the employee, spouse/partner and the HR liaison for
the assignment should be conducted. Remember to gather relevant data on:
• the assignment objectives
• past international experience
• the employee’s job responsibilities and developmental goals
• spouse interests and requirements
• children’s special needs
• family dynamics
• expectations of each family member
• and any unique issues or concerns (Bennett, 2000).
Identifying what are some characteristics of the specific work team culture, keeping in
mind that each international team may be unique. By assessing these specific features
well, there is likely to be a better match between the needs and skills of the participants
and the requirements of task completion.
Assessing the Situational Environment of the International Assignment
Here we are looking for information about the skills, expectations, relationships between
participants, as well as the physical environment and available resources for effective
completion of the task.
Where is the assignment? Is it a long distance from home, with a different climate and
time zone? What about safety factors in the environment such as rules of the road,
insects, illnesses and proximity to medical conveniences? What are the legal and political
differences that could affect the assignees behavior and decisions? Is it in a bustling
urban environment or a rural or small town setting? “There are major differences between
assignment to a destination with a large international community and a high level of
international business activity versus those with no such community or business activity
(Fontaine, 1997, Ch 1)
An awareness of the skills needed to deal with the differences between types of
organizations is critical. International assignments are common in these very different
types of organizations: “Commerce, diplomacy, military, intelligence, advising,
consulting, transportation, foreign employment, foreign study, relief work, goodwill
exchanges, research, journalism, communications, athletics, entertainment, religious
missions and pilgrimages, migration, tourism, and recreation. (Fontaine, 1997, Ch 1)”
What about the task specific ecological characteristics? There will be a sequence of tasks
to be completed in order to make a success of the assignment. “Each of these occurs
within a task ecology that might differ considerably from task to task. They could include
task objectives, their importance to the assignee, the physical setting in which the task
takes place, the resources available, the degree to which the task is structured, the number
of participants, their past experiences on similar tasks, their current relationships with one
another, their anticipation of future interaction, and their motives, skills and personalities
(Fontaine, 1997, Ch. 1.)”
• The corporate culture of the assignment needs to be assessed and understood.
This is addressed elsewhere in the handbook.
What are the perceptions of procedural fairness of the organization? These are based on
at least two categories of factors:
1. the structural aspects of decision processes, such as whether people are allowed to
provide input into decisions , and
2. the interpersonal behavior of those responsible for implementing decisions - also
known as interactional justice- for example, whether they treated the affected
parties with dignity and respect .
These perceptions have been found to be significant in measuring the likelihood of
employees to give up vs. stay with an international assignment. (Garonzik, 2000)
• A further critical area to assess is that of social support in the international
While it is during the international assignment that the social support component
becomes vital, it is helpful to assess one’s patterns of social support needs prior to the
assignment. Identifying the social support provided at home is a skill, and involves noting
who provides the support, what kind of needs are met, and is the support quite focused or
is it more diffuse, across a number of people and groups.
The next skill involves identifying the social support needs while on assignment. As
Fontaine (1997, Ch. 8) notes, “Who is left behind and how much support will they
continue to provide? The skill in identifying support needs on the assignment should
involve an examination of the kinds of activities and experiences associated with optimal
moods and the degree to which all or some of them require social support”.
Next, identify the social support available on the assignment.
• what support group come with the assignee
• what support is provided by the organization
• does the destination have a well functioning and easily accessible expatriate
• to what degree might accessibility to host culture support groups be affected by
language, culture, security and attitudes toward the assignee’s country
A broad range of support opportunities should be identified, to make it possible for truly
successful international work.
Accurate and ongoing, increasingly deep assessment of all features of international work,
is the foundation for achievement of employee and company goals. This means success
for the organizations involved and for the individual employees and their families.
Chapter 2 – Expatriates – So you’re going on an adventure…..
THE EFFECT OF Expatriates IN GEOGRAPHICALLY DISPERSE TEAMS OR
Watch out!! Someone THREW A GRENADE in your intercultural landscape!
A possible symbolic grenade might be the organizational culture expatriate. In today’s
evolving global business environment, the expatriate is someone who has found it
necessary, in order to perform her/his duties as part of a GDT, to move to a geographical
area which has its own set of culture paradigms. The individual finds her/himself in a
variety of unknowns and possible pitfalls. In this instance, as the GDT leader, the first
conflict you may wish to avoid is any assumptive thinking.
As shown by Johnson and Johnson, a group of strangers will complete a task given the
presence of the requisite leadership (p. 58). So basically, even in the absence of adaptive
processes, the expatriate will do the job. Yet, with no map to navigate the cultural waters,
the job may leave the group interaction in devastation. Ideas of ascribing certain
behaviors based on peripheral knowledge of the originating culture of the member or the
member herself/himself may create more conflict within the GDT. If the leader begins
with an observational process of the expatriate, some conflicts may be avoided
preliminarily (Johnson and Johnson, pp 25-26).
Challenges to the Well-Functioning Expatriates
Observational process for discerning the efficacy of the expatriate will serve you well.
Team members who demonstrate observable high self-efficacy may be assumed to
automatically possess the necessary skills to adapt to the new environment. If you look
again, you will find, despite the high degree of ability, if the expatriate is without the
knowledge of the environment, how can they adapt? In discussing community and the
components that deny cohesiveness, Ruth Frankenberg summarizes that in terms of the
environments we live in, or in this case work in, “…not only do we live in it but it, by
some architectural trick, lives in us” (Thompson, p. 3). The trick for the transitioning of
the expatriate is not only to find a niche within the group, but to allow, given the self-
efficacy of the expatriate, the ability for the architectural design to reside within the
expatriate. Finding a manner in which to disseminate knowledge of the current culture
will facilitate the ease by which the expatriate finds rhythm within the new environment.
(Mendenhall & Wiley, p. 613).
Predictors of performance in the pre-departure phase include the following:
• The parent company’s attitude and preparation
• A positive and supportive attitude of the local unit
• Cultural diversity and succession planning
• Resourcefulness of expatriates (competencies, resources, skills, personality
characteristics, previous experiences.)
• Pre-departure expectations (expected difficulties and benefits of the assignment)
• Motivational states (willingness and commitment)
Factors that facilitate adjustment in the post-arrival stage:
• Expatriate acculturation attitudes (integration as opposed to assimilation and
• Perceptions (e.g. perceived cultural distance)
• Socialization and support in the local unit. (Mendenhall, p. 124-25.)
Laying out the Map
The exchange within this dynamic is of universalistic and particularistic dimensions.
Sharing the information resource, the GDT Leader conveys a universal acceptance of the
cultural paradigms. The expatriate will naturally value this with particularistical high
regard. In contrast, the same resource exchanged by a non-leader may have less value
and thus have a more universal dimension (Earley & Gibson, p. 157). In keeping with
this theme, the GDT Leader must establish the cultural parameters with the expatriate,
allowing the collective to reinforce such exchange. Designating cultural knowledge
agents creates an environment of mutual dependence. In addition, this particular strategy
provides the underlying components for future GDT success.
This dynamic lends itself well to tacit knowledge sharing, from which the expatriate can
garner the requisite skill and knowledge more often from the team, thus freeing the GDT
Leader from an individual, hands-on training. Globalizing the cultural training unleashes
the creativity within the group, as well as the expatriate’s knowledge value contribution.
In addition, the assignation of cultural knowledge sharing within the team advances the
future success by neutralizing possible challenges by the expatriate’s cultural
“ignorance”, while improving the overall performance of the group (Von Krogh, et al.).
Applying knowledge creation components to expatriate integration will establish
preliminary steps to incorporating the expatriate into the group dynamic.
So you think, okay, if I come across an expatriate in the GDT leadership experience, I
will be okay if I learn several techniques for integration, observation, and participation?
Well, let me rock your boat a little. What if you are the expatriate? How do you function
within this dynamic facilitating the success of the team, while incorporating the existing
culture in the panorama? You prep yourself ahead of time.
Culture versus Culture
Your adaptive behavior will be determined by the type of conflict with the culture at
hand: “role” conflict or a “novelty” conflict (Mendenhall & Wiley, p. 615). Quite
simply, a role conflict occurs when your superior is a host culture/group citizen, and your
personal originating culture processes clash. In contrast, role novelty is the GDT leader
who works without having an immediate superior to whom to report, and practices his
cultural expertise by impression management.
Depending on the circumstance, the process will differ, but the desired outcome is
cultural proficiency. The expatriate GDT Leader in varying cultural environments
utilizes impression management to present an assimilative personality to the host culture.
Impression management is simply the appearance of acceptable behaviors within the
culture norms. To accomplish the impression management tactic, the GDT leader must
be able to intersect the cultural structure; identify behaviors scripted by hierarchy,
classification, responsibilities, etc.; objectively analyze the dynamic; then create the
persona palatable for the host culture (Mendenhall & Wiley, p. 610).
In following certain cultural inclusionary practices from either side of the leadership
fence, as well as tacit knowledge sharing, the GDT leader more readily promotes an
environment of “we”, facilitating the adaptation of the expatriate to the new
organizational culture. Assessment of group members, as discussed in earlier
chapters, facilitates focusing on the outcomes.
The alternate and final challenge to the expatriate GDT dynamic is what happens when
the expatriate refuses to conform to the social norms of the new geographical and
organizational culture in addition to the absence of ascription to any cultural norm?
Conflicting group dynamics, observations and developing processes for resolution will be
discussed in will be discussed in following chapters.
The Home Grown Expatriate
The term expatriate has gone through a linguistic evolutionary process. Withdrawing
oneself from an existing environment, a culture or an allegiance is what occurs when one
doesn’t ascribe to the culture that exists around them with the opinion there is an absence
of mass culture within the United States. In addition, the definition of culture itself
eludes concrete definition. Expatiation of criteria, evidence, existence, etc. gives a
chaotic structure to the point of almost nonexistence. The expatriate on home soil, takes
on different dynamics and must be treated as inclusionary and devoid of assumptive
perspective in the same manner as the expatriate in strange lands. Recognizing the
homegrown expatriate incorporates the history of U.S.-centric experience in cultural
The U.S. cultural norms dictate a perspective which does not embody all aspects of
ethnological lenses. Cultural studies reveal that the perceived dominant culture norms are
the cornerstone of all ethical, principled, and/or value based interaction in our society.
Such philosophies reduce other cultures to insignificance. As shown above, the
resolution for cultural collision is the widening of the cultural eye to include the different
panoramas from the different angles. To explain further, in analogizing culture to the
dynamics of a map’s creation:
“Anyone who uses maps knows they are not the same as the world, that the point of view
of the cartographer is crucial, and that no single map tells us all we might want to know”
(Denning, p. 120).
Chapter 3 - A word about the communication and how ….
"For people to be effective, they need to increase their 'span of communication',
and thus their 'span of influence' (Lipnack, p. 54)"
TECHNOLOGY AND COMMUNICATION
When thinking of Al Gore, the 45th Vice President of the United States, one might
immediately think of the election where electoral votes placed George W. Bush in office
in 2000. Still, who would’ve thought that Al Gore would be remembered for facilitating
the advancement of global society in one giant leap? But it is true. Gore pushed for funds
to be provided for programs leading to the National Informational Infrastructure (NII)
better know as the Internet. As a result, life as we know it has drastically changed from
1990 to today. Technology has changed the way business is done. "The global
communications web that makes everyone on the planet neighbors, long imagined in
science-fiction is in place. …nearly every country in the world has Internet connections"
(Lipnack, p. 2). People have off handedly commented how technology has made things
easier, but the truth is it didn't change the rules, it made them obsolete.
Constant change is happening at a pace never seen before. The demand for new, newer,
newest technology is pushing innovators to the limits. Like a pebble dropped in the glass
surface of a pond, the technology is spreading and embracing global networking, making
our large world smaller and making it easier to participate in markets with geographical
distances. “Globalization and localization and a demand for social as well as financial
performance all typify business in the Internet age.” Traveling long distances to conduct
meetings with foreign partners, structure cohesive team interaction; resolve production
issues, all these things still require face to face communications, but the frequency by
which the requirement is carried is greatly reduced by technology. Technology has not
only increased business profits, merged large corporations in to mega-corporations, and
facilitated revenues for struggling economies, it has connected GDT's in ways that did
not exist 30 years ago. Still within this technology lies the possibility of destroying the
same things technology has been able to assist. In some instances, globally dispersed
teams are still utilizing old paradigms in order to approach the new technological
Defying communication barriers, technology opens up vast territories which are not
restrained by time and space, tying teams with great geographical distances together. Yet,
with all this ability, the way business is conducted in France may destroy the productivity
of the business’ Japanese cohort. Integrating the diverse cultural perceptions into this
technological GDT nightmare, the leader is challenged to bring the whole together in a
“Global Mind Change”, Willis Harman says: "Every society ever known rests on some
largely tacit basic assumptions about who we are, what kind of universe we live in, and
what is ultimately important to us” (1998, p 9-10)
Getting the team to transmit and share ideas with the facilitation of technology to keep
the group informed and cohesive.
The Challenge of Asynchronous Communication: How to conquer the
We have operated largely in sync with the entities we do business with since the
invention of the telephone. That synchronous communication has continued with other
advances in technology such as teleconferencing and videoconferencing. For some,
being in sync is the only way to do business. With the globalization of the corporate
world synchronous communication has become harder and harder to do. We are tasked
with holding meetings across great distances. This need to communicate with others all
over the world creates challenges associated with time. The world’s time zones make it
impractical to do business solely on our time schedule. Consideration and allowances
must be made in order to collaborate with different cultures around the globe.
Asynchronous communication has offered some relief to this challenge of global
collaboration. You can leave information in a public forum and then wait for an answer
from the other end. This isn't an instant satisfaction type of communication and some
have trouble adjusting to this new pace. Personal issues such as trust and control must
be dealt with when collaborating asynchronously. Although most people’s preference
will always be to communicate synchronously, asynchronous communication will always
be a viable alternative.
Getting a clear message to the right person
One must be very clear when communicating with people in different locations. You
must be conscious of your writing style so that what you’re trying to say is actually what
people are reading. There is no place for sarcasm and off color remarks because
without the ability to see the nonverbal communication a message can be grossly
misinterpreted. There are other challenges such as differences in language, differences
in the meaning of words, and different cultural interpretations of certain words. A good
rule to remember is to keep it simple and clear. By being more specific in your
communication you decrease your odds of miscommunication.
When Teams Talk Face to Face
When technological advancements will not suffice in leading a team to high proficiency
in attaining the common goal, the GDT leader facilitates furtherance of the success by
interacting in face to face, synchronous communication. Each individual is capable of
carrying on a conversation, but the sender and receiver must speak and hear the same
message. The question isn’t “Can we talk” but “How can we talk”. In addition, the how
will also include how we listen.
The dynamic may shift if the GDT leader is part of the host culture or if the GDT leader
is of a culture that is being introduced into the group. Yet, the basic systems of
communication; the foundation to getting the goal, map, assignments, etc., across to the
team will basically be simply structured by certain constructs of communication.
Selecting the Right “Tool” for Communication
The GDT manager should be appropriately resourced with some basic background in
diverse cultural communications. (S)He will be able to identify:
- Similarity of perceptual orientations
- Similarity of systems of belief
- Similarity of communication styles
These systems become the “sidewalks” of the communication networking. They are the
conduit for the exchange of information within the GDT. GDT managers will be able to
make a wide panorama of the reality of the multi-cultural element of the GDT. The
manager’s approach will be to incorporate the reality of each culture present in her/his
group. At the same time, the manager will reference the familiar and routine reality that
s/he maintains in the geographical home as an understandable baseline, while
incorporating the inferences of the varied cultures within the team. In this identification,
the manager is able to develop methods of similar thought processes on a given project or
element pertinent to the goal of the team and maintain the line of communication.
(Samovar & Porter, pp. 27-44)
Similarity of Perceptual Orientations:
Tacit knowledge plays a very integral part of perceptual orientation. Indirect
communication generally can be a conveyance of tacit knowledge. The speaker will
transmit shared unspoken information indirectly and this type of communication can only
occur when the communication system is well-functioning. Well-functioning systems
will have parity in perceptions, but cultural deviations will challenge that parity. The
sender and receiver in this type of communication may have variances in broad versus
narrow perceptions. Such variances may include body language, eye contact (or absence
of eye contact), positioning of hands, etc.
Similarity of Systems of belief
The concept sounds a bit esoteric, but simply it is the conclusions that one draws from
their experience that sets the foundation for a system of belief. Thus, if the speaker and
the listener have colliding systems, the listener may hear the message in negative tones,
thus tainting the impact of the message. The GDT Leader cannot become fully aware of
every belief that is held within her/his team, but will be cognizant of those pertinent
beliefs that will integrate into the process and the functioning of the team.
One of the components to establishing well functioning and successful communication is
establishing a climate of trust within the GDT. Identifying values, philosophies, and
stating the mission factors early on in the team process can assist the leader in
establishing a open system of communication. The GDT leader can promote this
component of communication by “pairing” shared the hierarchical belief systems of
another group member (Samovar & Porter, p. 32).
Similarity of Communication Styles
In any of the above-mentioned communication components, the GDT leader must
manage the flow of information. This component involves both direct and indirect
communication. Some of the things the leader must be cognizant of in determining
• prevailing approach to reality and the degree of flexibility manifested in
• satisfaction from familiarity
• high tolerance of ambiguity
A significant percentage of nonverbal communications show up in face to face meetings.
In technologically distant communications this element is absent. The leader must be
clear and concise without sarcasm and other verbiage that may be interpreted incorrectly.
Technology has made the world a more intimate planet. We are exposed to so many
more cultures then ever before so the amount of players has also grown. In addition to
expediting information from one end of the globe to another, there has to be some
commonality not only in the language we speak, but the understanding of what is said.
As Buxton explains, there has to be several different avenues for delivering services
(1997, p. 1). Ubiquitous communication is not necessarily effective communication.
Covering all the bases of the variety of ways in which we communicate does not mean
that one of them will actually deliver the message you want understood. The GDT
Leader will incorporate not only varied tools, but varied styles in working with
geographically dispersed multicultural teams.
Still, even with the technology, common perceptions of usage may challenge the GDT
Leader. Even sending an email can be the death knell to effective communication if
protocols of cultural communication processes are not attended. Using certain systems to
effectively communicate ideas, concepts, instructions, will efficiently lend itself to
Eliminating ambiguity of the environment and establishing some content of predictability
encourages the communication and facilitates the understanding from one team member
to the next. Recognizing that all communication has some degree of intercultural
component, will preliminarily resource the leader and the group with a wide lens.
Incorporating different systems to give way to avenues of networking from one
individual to the next, will narrow that lens to a unified lens and move the team closer to
the goal. Iteration in the best case scenario, the individual identity of a member morphs
into the group identity: one group, one lens, one language.
One of the underlying supports for a leader to effectuate productive communication is to
promote communication within the group. Known bits of information shed light on the
creativity initiated by rehashing shared knowledge as demonstrated by the process of
writing this handbook. The authors, well-versed in the variety of subject matter covered
herein, contributed to the evolution of other areas by speaking in the “tongue” of the
subject matter, thus enabling the assigned author to further the compilation with this
insightful dialogue. It is contained within the leadership role that development for
communication between group members to create commonality within the group no
matter how diverse.
Ultimately, the leader will recognize that in the geographically dispersed team there
exists a variety of styles, referential baselines, experiences, skills. The bottom line is to
get those varied and sundry positions to come together on the same path to the same goal.
In essence, they have to communicate to be heard and then to be understood, whether that
is technological or in the face to face dynamic. The whole basis of communication for
GDTs is not to acculturate, but to develop the tools and an environment conducive to the
generation and exchange of information, creativity, goals and values.
Chapter 4 -- Training and Leadership Development,
Motivation and maybe Trust
As we all know the world today is getting smaller and smaller. It used to be that when
traveling to another country you were ‘out of pocket’ during that time. Now if there isn’t
an internet café you find yourself feeling discombobulated. What happens with business
as saturation of any given market domestically the only place to grow is to increase your
area of domination. This is no different than Roman Empire days when you had to go
take new lands to grow your power base. When conquering other lands in the pursuit of
corporate or personal goals there are certain helpful characteristics that will allow for
great success. This accentuates the enormous importance on leadership development with
It has been argued by organizational scholars that leadership is critical to organizational
productivity (Bennis, 1989a; McFarland, Senn, & Childress, 1993; Yukl, 1998) and
recent findings suggest there is a positive relationship between a multinational
corporation’s (MNC) ability to develop global leadership and the MNC’s return on assets
(Stroh & Caligiuri, 1997). (Mendenhall, 2001 p. 1)
All leaders are today, or will be in the future, global,” says Corporate Vice President
Patrick Canavan of Motorola. (Odenwald, P. 97)
Global leaders at every level must evidence trans-cultural competence through:
1. Interest in different cultures and business practices
2. Nonjudgmental initial interaction with difference
3. Conceptual understanding of the power of difference
4. Modeling of product/service diversity related to culture (Odenwald, p. 97)
1. Physical stamina
2. The ethnographic data collection skills of cultural anthropologists
3. An expanding repertoire of behavior
4. Sense of humor
5. Personal belief in life as a journey
6. Commitment to the greatness of their organization
7. A deep connection to a higher purpose being facilitated by participation in the
organization (Odenwald, p. 97-98)
Every Team Member competency
1. Communication Skills; listening, verbal, nonverbal, writing, language,
2. Conceptual Process Skills; Problem solving/decision making, negotiating, open
minded, Innovative, perceptive, anticipating, discerning
3. Technical Skills; Computer, task and function specific
4. Leadership Skills; Tolerant, Flexible, persuasive, consensus building, coaching,
change oriented, patient
5. Project Management Skills; Delegating, scheduling, forecasting, strategic
planning, process focused, prioritizing, interviewing, bottom-line focused
(Odenwald, p. 100)
Although technical skills and project experience are important, the most critical skill
required to achieve group goals is interpersonal skills. Team leaders must be culturally
astute, flexible, and able to deal with a great deal of ambiguity. They should recognize
cultures have values and beliefs that team members will not violate, nor should they.
Leaders must be able to deal with diverse cultural perspectives without compromising the
integrity of their team. (Odenwald, p. 101)
Global Manager or team leader must have these qualities:
1. Interpersonal, intercultural competence,
2. Capacity to work at a distance
3. Language skills
4. Capacity to manage ambiguity and stress
5. Personal excellence and discipline
6. Expertise and perspective
7. Capacity to work in multiple teams
8. Curiosity, capacity to learn and to forget
9. Rethinking loyalty-company, profession, family, country, religious value
10. Accountability and trust
11. Physical stamina
Competencies (Mendenhall, p. 2)
• Global Business Savvy
• Global Organizational Savvy
• Integrity/Managing Cross-Cultural Ethics
• Thinking Agility
• Managing Uncertainty
• Balancing Global versus Localization Tensions
• Expertise in Negotiation Processes
• Inquisitiveness/Curiosity/Self Learning
• Conflict Management
• Change Agentry
• Community Building/Networking
• Creating Learning Systems
• Stakeholder Orientation
• Motivating Employees
• Entrepreneurial Spirit
• Establishing Close Personal Relationships
How to develop these competencies?
“The fact remains that simply sending someone overseas does not ensure that they will
automatically develop global leadership competencies. (Mendenhall p. 214) Management
competencies develop through both training (e.g. training in time management, coping,
conflict resolution, interpersonal relations, communications, etc.) and firsthand exposure
to situations that pose uncertainty, diversity, and challenge.” (Mendenhall, p.128)
The most effective method of creating global leaders is an expatriate assignment. The
reality is this is the most effective way to secure competencies. Through experiencing the
culture themselves they actually feel the experience.
Expatriate Competencies through experience
• Self- Efficacy
• Spouse Adjustment
• Family Adjustment
• Behavioral Flexibility
• Social/Logistical Support
• Cultural Novelty
• Organization Culture Novelty
• Broad Category Width
• Role Conflict
• Flexible Attributions
• Role Novelty
• Role Discretion
• High Tolerance for Ambiguity
• Goal Orientation
• Empathy/Respect for Others
• Technical Competence
• Nonverbal Communication
• Reinforcement Substitution
• Relationship Skills
• Stress Reduction Program
• Willingness to Communicate
Intercultural Training Issues
“Global teams are one way of cross-pollinating…in these situations, people
develop themselves as well as help develop others. It’s a program of both learning
and teaching that enhances the ability and taps into the creativity of all people in
an organization.” (Solomon, 1995)
Intercultural training is differentiated from cross-cultural training in that cross-cultural
training focuses on how other cultures do business; intercultural training focuses on how
to do business with other cultures. (Fontaine, 1997)
The idea of training for globally diverse teams is about adding to the skill set for
assignees so that they can enhance their capacity to understand their work environment,
adjust and perform well, and to develop themselves and their organization.
Much of the content of this chapter will relate to training of employees who go abroad to
work, and their families. Still the concepts can be applied to those working from home, in
our continually changing work environments. “Today’s organizations have a workforce
increasingly diverse in culture, ethnicity and nationality, age, gender, appearance,
experience, education and training, personality and motivation, capabilities and skills,
and the social networks to which they belong. (Fontaine, 2003).
Assignees are often meant to be agents of change. They are expected to go beyond
transference of skills and knowledge, and also to be acquirers of skills and knowledge.
• “Training should be designed to support all these areas: performance,
adjustment, and development. (Bennett, p. 240)”
“If companies want assignments to develop both individual and organizational
competencies in order to compete globally, then success requires that assignees:
1. must have the skills, knowledge, attitudes and attributes to perform effectively in
a different cultural environment
2. and accompanying family members must be able to personally adjust to living in
3. must understand how to maximize developmental opportunities
Training must address one of the most fundamental success factors in cross-border
assignments: the ability to form positive, mutually respectful, trusting relationships with
local national and people of diverse backgrounds. (Bennett, p. 241)”
Who benefits from training?
Remember that the employee is not the only one who should participate in the benefit of
training. For international assignments to be successful, the family unit needs to be
regarded as a team, and one that needs to be mutually supportive. The spouse’s
confidence level, skills, and knowledge needs to be as strong as that of the employee.
Training can help.
“A key goal of training is to enable the spouse to feel like a participating partner
rather than unwilling victim of the assignment (Bennett, p. 242.)”
What training is often used?
“In the context of training, the focus is on identifying what skills are required to
meet the challenges of international assignments, how to best acquire those skills,
when to apply them, and providing information to help assignees develop and use
them. They provide the context within which the more “active learning, or
“hands-on” approaches must be placed. (Fontaine, 1997.)”
1. Cultural and environmental awareness. Here we have programs that help the trainee
learn about larger scale info such as the geography, socio-political history, stage of
economic development, and cultural institutions of a particular area.
One training exercise is called BaFa BaFa. This exercise forms the trainees into
two groups and has them try to trade with each other without knowing the
negotiation rules. “Most participants in this exercise make inaccurate attributions
about the other team’s behaviors and motives, and this exercise encourages them
to reserve judgment about other cultures (Sullivan, S. 1993.)”
2. Language Training. In addition to traditional language training, these sessions are
more useful when they include training on nonverbal behaviors and business etiquette.
• Remember, for example, to be conscious of speech patterns when talking with a
compatriot in the presence of a foreign national.
• Training in the selection and use of interpreters -whose role is to bridge the cultures,
not just to translate words- is highly important. These people can play a significant
role in development of the team.
3. Simulation exercises. Trainees role-play responses to vignettes depicting international
situations, getting feedback from judges, who are often expatriates. This helps trainees
imagine various reactions and their consequences, aiding in enhancing self-confidence.
The skill of the facilitator of these exercises is crucial to help make meaning of the
subtleties of the experience.
• These are particularly helpful in ‘short notice’ situations, because many vignettes
can be examined in a short period of time.
4. Sensitivity or Attribution Training. Through the use of group discussions, trainees
can learn to accept unfamiliar behaviors and values systems. This type of training helps
reduce ethnic prejudice and is used by the Peace Corps.
Attribution training is designed to help trainees make isomorphic attributions, that is,
develop the skill to understand situations from the perspective of the host culture. Similar
to the simulation exercises, a technique for training presents the trainee with ‘critical
incidents’ of commonly encountered interaction difficulties. The trainee progresses
through the series by correctly choosing one of several alternative choices about the
likely perspective of the host culture. (Fontaine, 1997)
5. Field Experiences. This can include pre-departure visits by employee and spouse, to
the host country. It can also include time spend in nearby micro-cultures such as
communities where one primary ethnic group prevails. These experiences can be used as
interaction training, when specific tasks are carried out in the micro-cultures and then
later discussed with facilitators for debriefing and increased learning. This can precipitate
the beginning of understanding and dealing with the emotional stress which can be
expected from working and living with people of another culture. (Sullivan, 1993)
• The assignees need to be technically highly competent in their field. Often the
receiving organization is sending their most highly competent people to the team,
and is expecting the same from foreign employees.
• Because of the greater novelty in international situations, these trainees need to
have a higher level of attention and retention. Using a variety of methods to
present material can help increase learning ability.
Intercultural learning model (O’Hara, 1994.)
One framework for conceptualizing some of the stages of intercultural learning, and for
measuring resolution of difficulties and where ongoing learning effort may need to be
applied, is the following:
1. Anticipate Similarity Resolved
• positive mindset
• self confidence
• discomfort with differences
• resistance to engagement
• rigid self-concept
2. Encounter Shocks Resolved
• Deep emotional reaction
• Cautious optimism
• Sense of inadequacy
3. Consider Possibilities Resolved
• Interpret options
• Magnified differences
• Projection-based explanations
4. Open to the Culture Resolved
• Observe emotional reactions
• Recognize conditioning
• Suspend judgments
• Routine criticism
5. Pursue Learning Resolved
• See differences
• Accurate interpretations
• Seek cultural knowledge
• Denial of differences
• Rejection of learnings
6. Transcend Boundaries Resolved
• Self-discovery/sense of security
• Enjoy new customs
• Broadened expectations
• Loneliness/sense of not fitting in
• Maintenance of cultural boundaries
7. Appreciate Diversity Resolved
• Expanded values
• Desire to learn more
• Comfort with differences
• Intellectual acceptance
Finally, attention should be given to the ongoing emergence of new cultural
understanding and meaning.
“A ‘learning to learn’ approach to training is most effective and produces more
sustainable outcomes because it teaches the assignees how to continue their
cultural learning far beyond the confines of the training program (Bennett, p.
Chapter 5 -- How do you know what motivates other members
of your new team? How do you trust your team?
“A strong cultural work ethic translates into higher motivation, zeal, and
persistence – an emotional edge (Goleman, p.80.)”
Success in one’s job is strongly related to commitment and willingness to succeed.
(Mendenhall p.132) Seems pretty basic, right? But there are plenty of details outline just
how that works. Some of the descriptors or motivating factors break down the process
between pull and push factors.
PULL FACTORS Intrinsic rewards may include growing personally and spiritually,
developing an appreciation of human diversity by exploring different cultures,
developing better interpersonal skills, achieving a broader view of life, contributing to the
well-being of the country of assignment, and so on…..
Extrinsic rewards involve monetary and/or career issues, such as enhancing the
possibility of promotion earning money and prestige, developing technical and
managerial skills, increasing the chance of finding better employment upon repatriation,
and so on..
PUSH FACTORS may include a way to escape unpleasant work and/or non-work
circumstances in the home country. (Mendenwall, p. 133)
Expatriates motivated by pull factors are willing to use every opportunity to learn and
grow individually and professionally. They are adventurous in nature and change as a
result of experience. They learn from every experience, which again, is on of the key
characteristics of global leaders (Medenwall, p. 133)
Two sources of motivation; extrinsic money rewards and for the positive regard and
support of their colleagues. In more communitarian cultures, this second source of
motivation may be so strong that high performers prefer to share the fruits of their efforts
with colleagues than to take extra money for themselves as individuals.
Western theories of motivation have individuals growing out of an early, and hence
primitive, social needs into an individually resplendent self-actualization at the summit of
the hierarchy. Needless to say,, this does not achieve resonance the world over, however
good a theory it may be for the USA and northwest Europe. The Japanese notion of the
highest good harmonious relationship within and with the patterns of nature; the primary
orientation is to other people and to the natural world. (Trompenaars & Hampden-Turner,
Members of organizations enter relationships because it is in their individual interests to
do so. Their ties are abstract, legal ones, regulated by contract.
In communitarian cultures the organization is not the creation or instrument of it founders
so much as a asocial context all members share and which gives them meaning and
purpose. Organizations are likened to a large family, community or clan, which develops
and nurtures its members and may live longer than they do. The growth and prosperity
of organizations are not considered bonanzas for the individual shareholders or gravy-
train for top managers, but are valuable ends in themselves. (T & TH, p.64)
Because family members enjoy their relationships they may be motivated more by praise
and appreciation than by money. Pay-for-performance rarely sits well with them, or any
motivation that threatens family bonds. They tend to ‘socialize risk’ among their
members and can operate in uncertain environments quite well. Their major weakness
occurs when intra-family conflicts block necessary change.
Resolving conflict often depends on the skill of a leader. Criticisms are seldom voiced
publicly; if they are the family is in turmoil. Negative feedback is indirect and sometimes
confined to special ‘licensed’ occasion (In Japan you can criticize your boss while
drinking his booze.) Care is taken to avoid loss of face by prominent family members
since these are points of coherence for the whole group. The family model gives low
priority to efficiency (doing things right) but high priority to effectiveness (doing the
right things). (Trompenaars & Turner-Hampden, 1998, p. 170)
In another example French employees of the Eiffel Tower Culture are ideally precise
and meticulous. They are nervous when order and predictability is lacking. Duty is
important for the role-oriented employee. It is an obligation people feel within
themselves, rather than an obligation they feel towards a specific individual.
Conflicts are seen as irrational, pathologies of orderly procedure, offences against
efficiency. Criticisms and complaints are typically channeled and dealt with through
even more rules and fact-finding procedures. (Trompenaars & Turner-Hampden, 1998 p.
Guided Missile Culture
Motivations tend to be intrinsic in this culture. That is, team members get enthusiastic
about, identify with and struggle towards the final product. In the case of Apple
Macintosh, the enthusiasm was about creative and ‘insanely great machine.’ The product
under development is the super-ordinate goal for which the conflicts and animosities of
team members may be set aside. Unless there is high participation there will not be
widespread commitment. The final consensus must be broad enough to pull in all those
who work on it.
This culture tends to be individualistic since it allows for a wide variety of differently
specialized people to work with each other on a temporary basis. The scenery of faces
keeps changing. Only the pursuit of the chosen lines of personal development is constant.
The team is a vehicle for the shared enthusiasm of its members, but is itself disposable
and will be discarded when the project ends. Members are garrulous, idiosyncratic and
intelligent, but heir mutuality is a means, not an end. It is a way of enjoying the journey.
They do not need to know each other intimately and may avoid doing so. Management
by objectives is the language spoken, and people are paid by performance (Trompenaars
& Turner-Hampden 1998, p.179.)
The Incubator Culture
American start up companies…. Motivation is often wholehearted, intrinsic and intense
with individuals working ’70 hours a week and loving it’ as the T-shirts at Apple
Computer used to read in its earlier days. There is competition to contribute to the
emerging shape of something new. Everyone wants to get his or her ‘hands on.’ There is
scant concern for personal security and few wish to profit or have power apart from the
unfolding creative process. If the whole succeeds there will be plenty for everyone. If it
does not, the incubator itself will be gone. In contrast to the family culture, leadership in
the incubator is achieved, not ascribed. You follow those whose progress most impresses
you and whose ideas work. Power plays that impede group achievement will be reviled.
Conflict is resolved either by splitting up or by trying the proposed alternatives to see
which works best. (Trompenaars & Turner-Hampden, 1998)
Without time and experience trust cannot develop. This is true for any relationship. How
can global leaders bridge that gap? Trust and expectations of others reflect a degree of
predictability of another person’s actions when given a chance for opportunism. Trust
has also been thought of as confidence in the character, integrity, strength and abilities of
another person. In the social psychology literature, the construct of trust has been defined
in a number of ways. Two general categorizations of trust are people’s motivation versus
credibility as well as generalized versus situational trust. Motivation-based trust reflects
the expressed confidence that one party has in another’s motives and intentions. This
reflects the belief that the other parties are motivated for cooperation and an unselfish
orientation and that the other person(s) will fulfill their obligations. Deutsch focused a
great deal on the motives and expectations of others in describing various forms of
interdependence and cooperation. He suggested that these expectations lead an actor to
interacting with others for whom these expectations are not met. Credibility-based trust
reflects the informational uncertainty of situations and the sincerity of another’s words
and deeds. For example, Rotter defined interpersonal trust as an expectancy that the
verbal and written commitments of one person could be relied upon. In Rotter’s usage,
trust does not require the actions or words of one person to be positive whereas others
have this as part of their definition. (Early and Gibson, p. 106-107)
Chapter 6 -- What do you absolutely positively need to
know……the basis for it all…..psych stuff
Psychological Processes in Intercultural Relations
Context - All human behavior develops and is exhibited in a socio-cultural
context; there is no culture-free behavior. (Landis, Bennet & Bennet, 2004 p. 166)
There is no culture without people. If you start with the basic order of human behavior
then scrub down to different cultures and behaviors you get to learn a
The connection between culture and behavior similarities drives three broad approaches;
• Absolutism assumes that psychological phenomena are basically the same
(qualitatively) in all cultures; honesty is honesty and depression is depression no
matter where one observes them. (Landis et al p. 166)
• Relativism assumes that all human behavior is culturally patterned. It seeks to
avoid ethnocentrism by trying to understand people ‘in their own terms.’
Explanations of human diversity are sought in the cultural context in which
people have developed. Assessments employ the meanings that cultural group
gives to a phenomenon. Comparisons are judged to be conceptually and
methodologically problematic and ethnocentric and are thus virtually never made.
• Universalism approach lies somewhere between the first two positions. It makes
the assumption that basic psychological processes are common to all members of
species (that is, they constitute a set of psychological givens in all human beings)
and that culture influences the development and display of psychological
characteristics (that is, culture plays different variations on these underlying
themes). Universalism seeks to understand the role of culture in stimulation
behavioral diversity; rather than dismissing culture, universalism accepts it as the
source of human variety. (Landis et al, p. 166 – 167)
Six dimensions of cultural variation:
Most concrete level cultures can be seen to vary in terms of their housing, dress, food and
transportation. These aspects are not usually the source of intercultural difficulties.
Although it is true that all of these practical issues do pose problems (where and when to
sleep, what to wear and to eat, and how to get around are all challenges that need to be
met), the greatest intercultural problems arise from the more implicit aspects of culture.
1. Diversity – some cultures are fairly homogenous in terms of what people do and
how they think of themselves. For example, in peasant or hunting-based societies,
almost everyone carries out the same limited set of roles, but in industrial
societies, people tend to be specialized. Another aspect of diversity is whether
most people share a common regional or ethnic identity. For example, in Japan
and Iceland, there is a minimal variation, but in countries such as Australia and
Canada, people have rather divergent senses of themselves.
2. Equality – When differences do occur, they can be treated equally or
differentially in terms of rewards and status. In some societies, there are rigid
hierarchies in civic, military, and religious spheres (e.g. the Roman Catholic
Church, which recognizes [among other divisions] the pope, cardinals, bishops,
priests, monks, believers and heretics). In other societies, there may be no
permanent authority or leadership; coordination of actions is by consensus or by
the use of temporary leaders for specific activities.
3. Conformity – In some societies people are tightly enmeshed in a system of norms
and social obligations to the in-group; in others, people are relatively free to ‘do
their own thing.’
4. Wealth – This is perhaps the dimension of cultural variation that is most obvious
because it is the most concrete: Money, possessions, and leisure time can be seen
by all observers. However, there are other aspects to this dimension that m ay be
less obvious. One of these is the distribution of wealth (is it relatively equally
distributed, or are most resources in the hands of a few ethnic or family groups?)
A number of other features vary with wealth, including education, access to
communications and information, health, and personal values. Moreover, the
wealth dimension may be related to the first three dimensions.
5. Space- The dimension describing how individuals use space (housing, public
space and how they orient themselves during interpersonal encounters has
generated one of the largest research literatures in the field, as well as a rich
anecdotal base. Anyone with intercultural experience immediately recognizes the
importance of this dimension, although those who are not so experienced
sometimes cannot understand what the space dimension is all about. However, on
first experiencing an intercultural encounter with someone from a culture that
uses space differently, there is usually an ‘aha’ reaction – of course!
6. Time- As with the space dimension, cultural variation in the meaning and use of
time is not obvious to those having limited intercultural experiences. However,
both empirical studies and personal encounters attest to the importance of the time
dimension. Attempting to engage people who come from cultures with different
perspectives on time can be one of the main sources of intercultural difficulty.
(Landis et al, p. 169- 171)
All cultures change over time (Berry 1980b) – some slowly, some quickly sometimes
because of internal dynamics (e.g. innovation, invention), and sometime because of
external contact with other cultures (e.g. acculturation, cultural diffusion). (Landis,
Bennett and Bennett, p.171) Every action has an effect on the world around them. Even
exposure to a news report of something happening in another country can change the way
we think. The greatest gift we can use is our open attitude and a willingness to
understand what is to be communicated not necessarily said.
The following are the basis for acculturation between groups and the degree of ease or
difficulty in the process. Nine dimensions of social context:
1. Provision of adequate relationships with the environment (both physical and
social.) - This is needed to maintain a sufficient population to ‘carry’ the society
2. The differentiation and assignment of roles - In any group, different things
need to get done, and people have to somehow be assigned these roles (e.g. by
heredity, by achievement).
3. Communication – All groups need to have a shared, learned, and symbolic mode
of communication to maintain information flow and coordination within the
4. Share cognitive orientation. Beliefs, knowledge, and rules of logical thinking
need to be held in common for people in a society to work together in mutual
5. Shared articulated set of goals. Similarly, the directions for common striving
need to be shared to avoid having individuals pull in conflicting directions.
6. Normative regulation of means to these goals - Rules governing how these
goals might be achieved need to be stated and accepted by the population. If
material acquisition is a general goal for most people, murder and theft are not
likely to be accepted as a means to this goal whereas production, hard work, and
trading may be.
7. Regulation of affective expression - Similarly, emotions and feelings need to be
brought under normative control. The expression of love and hate, for example,
cannot be given free rein without serious disruptive consequences within the
8. Socialization - All new members must learn about the central and important
features of group life. The way of life of the group needs to be communicated,
learned, and, to some extent, accepted by all individuals.
9. Control of disruptive behavior. If socialization and normative regulation fail,
there needs to be some backup so that the group can require appropriate and
acceptable behavior of its members. In the end, behavioral correction or even
permanent removal (by incarceration or execution) may be required. (Landis et. al
p. 171 – 172)
Within the identification of the components of GDTs, users of this handbook should
remember to refer to the humanity and psychology of team members. Without cognition
of the behavioral patterns of the human species, this handbook is of no value and will
only supply you with a pattern that will not fit. In other words….remember no matter
how far or how different the individuals in your team we are still dealing with people,
Conclusions or The Happy Ending – in no way finished….or
the pay it forward reward of a life learned…and shared!
In summary, the well-functioning, globally dispersed and diverse team will transmit a
concept that will replicate from member to member. In doing this conveyance of
information, assessment of self and the team will take place. Ongoing training and
development, with a view toward cultural perceptions and sensitivities will occur.
Through all of this effective communication or commonality in the patterns of
communication will essentially direct the group toward constructive ends.
As we read culturally experienced excerpts from Gary Fontaine's writings, we will find
that beneath all of the resources, tools, and experience is a "sense of presence" as
illustrated on his website. It is this sense of presence that we must recognize with our
globally dispersed and diverse teams. Assigning value and respecting value of each
culture that is evidenced in the interaction. When we accept leadership, we accept that
"That is, these--frequently culture shocked--expats were nevertheless often learning a
vastly expanded range of tools for dealing with global organizational challenges. They
were involved with both the creation and exchange of knowledge associated with these
tools. And they were learning to identify the organizational ecologies within which those
tools worked best (Minbaeva, 2001)."
In order to facilitate the resources and tools to have significant impact, the individual
must practice cultural adaptation even when in familiar lands. Our connectivity to the
global community must begin with our connection with our smaller communities, each
one of us and those whom we touch around us and the ability to respect and accept each
other on our common soil. Pay it forward means to pay it here.
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