The Commisceo Global Blog

Keeping you up to date with all the news, articles, tools, opinions and press relating to the world of cultural understanding, in and out of business.

How Culture and Communication Impact Multicultural Global Teams

How Culture and Communication Impact Multicultural Global Teams

The homogenous team is a thing of the past in most international organisations and companies. More and more teams are made up of people with different nationalities and therefore different cultures, languages, ideas, behaviours and ways of doing things.

Some would argue that the ‘international language of business’ negates any real communication issues within such a cross-cultural team; however those with hands-on experience of such teams would disagree.

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Intercultural Teams



The complex work of modern knowledge intensive industries requires input from a variety of professions and skill sets, more than a lone worker can be expected to master. And since business is rapidly globalizing, managers can expect to work with teams whose members represent multiple cultural approaches to interpersonal relationships, work, and structures.

In such a situation, opportunities for misunderstanding and miscommunication abound, but the opportunity for magnifying the productivity of the group into deeper and more robust results is also great. What resources can a manager bring to the orchestrating of work in a multicultural team?


Approaches to Team and Group Work in Different Cultures

North American and Western Europe exemplify cultures in which individuals expect to compete, putting forth their own ideas forcefully in the expectation that others can be persuaded to go along with the one whose idea is most powerfully expressed. Such an approach to work in a group can be expected to generate a great deal of “noise”: conflict, debate and friction. Successful groups working within this paradigm will channel their competition into improving the work itself, but the obvious danger is that the conflict can become interpersonal, with emotional overtones interfering with the task at hand.

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