Swedish-German Project Team Members: Problems and Benefits due to Cultural Differences Concept to Succeed Author: Principal Tutor: Co-tutors: Programme: Research Theme: Level: Beate Illner and Wiebke Kruse Dr. Bertil Hultén Dr. Philippe Daudi and Mikael Lundgren Master’s Programme in Leadership and Management in International Context Intercultural Management Graduate
Baltic Business School, University of Kalmar, Sweden June 2007
Abstract Most multicultural teams are not as successful as expected. Germany and Sweden are close trade partners and one form of cooperation are German-Swedish project teams. In this thesis the reader will get answers to the following questions: What are the problems and benefits among German-Swedish project team members due to cultural differences and in which way can problems be coped with and benefits be enhanced. This thesis does not focus on virtual teams, the leadership of multicultural teams and the formation of German-Swedish project teams. The main components of the theoretical framework are cultural models which serve as basis for our analysis are Hofstede’s five dimensional model, Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner’s model and Hall’s model. For our research we interviewed eight members of German-Swedish project teams. We discovered problems among German-Swedish project team members deriving from differences in the communication styles, in the focus on cooperation versus task and in dealing with rules. Beneficial in the German-Swedish collaborations is that the cultures complement each other in focusing on the facts versus broadening the subject and in the focus on team spirit versus goal achievement. Another beneficial characteristic is the similarity of the German and Swedish culture. After analysing the problems and benefits due to cultural differences in German-Swedish project teams, we present our concept to reduce the problems in German-Swedish project teams. The concept consists of steps which build up on one another and therefore represent an overall concept which can serve as a basis and inspiration for enhancing the collaboration in GermanSwedish project teams. Our concept includes the steps: intercultural training, a mentor system in the team, internal advisors in the company and a cultural evaluation.
Acknowledgements There are some people we want to mention, who we want to thank for their support and contribution throughout writing this thesis. First of all we want to thank our eight interviewees for taking so much time for the interviews and answering our questions with patience. Without you this thesis would not have been possible thank you very much. We want to thank our tutors Dr. Bertil Hultén and Dr. Philippe Daudi for supporting us in our choice of the topic for this thesis. We want to thank Dr. Bertil Hultén for handling our demands flexible and relaxed, and giving us freedom in the composition of our thesis. Thank you for your support. We want to thank Dr. Philippe Daudi for motivating us to choose a topic we burn for and for emphasizing that it is most important to please ourselves, this was our motto throughout writing this thesis. Thank you for critical comments and giving us food for thoughts. We want to thank Daiva Balciunaite-Håkansson for providing us with theses from previous years. Thank you to all our classmates for discussions, encouragement and nice coffee breaks. A special thank you to Johannes and Peder who always had an open ear for us, patience, the right words and gave us energy. We want to thank the library team of the University of Kalmar for buying us books, ordering all requested inter-library loans and for their individual support we enjoyed during the last 13 weeks. We also want to thank the library for providing us with our great “office”, which became our second home. We want to thank the University of Kalmar for providing the infrastructure which made this thesis possible including internet access, a microwave, as well as coffee...
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