Diversity in Multi-Cultural Teams Creates Potential Advantages

Topics: Culture, Cross-cultural communication, Multiculturalism Pages: 10 (2825 words) Published: August 3, 2013


'Diversity in multi-cultural teams creates potential advantages'. Discuss. 

In the recent years, the movement of the modern business are very much according to the globalisation of the world's economy, which resulted in the increasing amount of international businesses, global economic competition, and the difference/divergence within the organisations. Globalisation creates international business environment that requires businesses to be more competitive. And in order to be more active and competitive, companies have to be able to adapt themselves to the constant change, which can be driven by cultural diversity (Salas, Goodwin and Burke, 2009). In the future, the skill to cooperate with diverse cultures is a significant device for a successful business (Thomas and Inkson, 2004). Yet, divergence within multicultural teams may create some drawbacks as well. Therefore, this essay aims to demonstrate whether the diversity in multicultural teams creates potential benefits.

The essay will initially give the definition of 'culture' and 'multicultural teams', then explore the advantages and disadvantages of diversity in multicultural teams. Examples of failure and success due to multiculturalism in teams will be present next. Hofstede’s theory of Cultural Dimensions will be used in order to analyse why multicultural teams can sometimes cause catastrophe to businesses.

Diverse multicultural teams are considerably important for international firms in the 21st century as most businesses require the creativity, mental flexibility, and ability of employees with various and different ideas working together to address their organisational challenges (Johnson, 2013). It seems to be crucial to provide the definition of 'culture' and 'multicultural teams' in order to further understand the essay proposition. The term 'culture' has many definitions because it is an intricate concept and is constantly changing. A British anthropologist Edward Tyler (1871) imposed one of the earliest definitions of culture: “the complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, custom and any other capabilities and habit acquired by man as a member of society” (McCort and Malhotra, 1993). As defined by Hofstede (1980), culture means "the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one group from another". According to Mulholland (1991) culture is "a set of shared and enduring meaning, values, and beliefs that characterize national, ethnic, or other groups and orient their behaviour". Thus, multicultural teams are defined as groups of two or more people in dissimilar nationalities working as one. It can be a long-term team, or a short-term team which is set up for a particular project such as evaluating a new market (Brett, 2007). Whilst the definition of multicultural teams, according to WebFinance (2013), is "where employees of varied backgrounds, cultures, ethnicities, and experiences can contribute freely, and achieve their individual potential for their own and their organisation's benefits".

Salacuse (2005) stated that culture strongly influences individuals' perspectives, communications, and behaviours. Within business society, cultural diversity has become more and more vital due to today's globalisation. Some people misunderstand that globalisation means homogeneity; in fact, it unexpectedly allows divergence/difference of cultures to exit in the society. For instance, nowadays, almost every city in any size countries around the world have several types of food such as Italian, Mexican, Thai, Indian, Chinese, etc. (Sotshangane, 2002). The requirement to understand other individuals who come from different nations and cultures has been noticeably increasing as it is one of the key factors that drive business to succeed. Smith (2007) claimed that businesses that take cultural divergence in to account will usually be successful, whereas...

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