Homogeneity and multiculturalism in information technology (IT) versus technical assistance (TA) project teams In Appendix A, Table No.1 summarizes the authors’ concluding results of qualitative review of their various experiences in about thirty information technology (IT) and technical assistance (TA) projects running over a ten-year timespan. Some significant characteristics of IT and TA projects are emphasized in terms of team homogeneity. The major conclusion is that IT project teams should be heterogeneously built – as compared to TA project teams. Multiculturalism in project team management Culture is “the collective programming of the mind that distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from others” (Hofstede, Hofstede & Minkov, 2010). According to Hofstede (1997) the cultural differences relate to five dimensions: - Power distance index (the degree of dependence between different level of authorities), - Individualism (the degree in which everyone is expected to put herself / himself in the middle of the universe) versus Collectivism (integration into cohesive groups), - Masculinity versus femininity (in some societies gender role are clearly distinct, while in others they are overlapping), - Uncertainty avoidance index (members of a culture may feel threatened by uncertainty or unknown situations) - Long term orientation (the importance showed for the future versus the past and present). Cultural diversity has alternative meanings in different parts of the world. Thus while in USA multiculturalism prioritize racial aspects, in Europe concerns focus more on national and ethnic sides, due to the EU regulations regarding free movements of workforce. Under these circumstances more and more companies abandon the traditional elitism and promote in managerial positions cultural diversity, either due to social pressure, or respond to real need for cultural equilibrium within the teams. According to top echelon theory (Hambrick & Mason, 1984), top management reflects the specific of the organization, and also contributes substantially to the development of organizational culture (Dalton & Kesner, 1985). Due to complexity induced by multiculturalism, the formal authority somehow fades and power is conversed from information and knowledge of joining cultures. Nowadays competitive advantages are hardly accessible in conditions of globalized competition and increasing customers’ requirements (Beer & Nohria, 2001). Leaders interact every day with different team members with different ways of thinking and acting. The role of a good leader is to understand all those elements of cultural diversity and use this knowledge to avoid conflicts, delays or miscommunication (Brett, Behfar & Kern, 2006). A key point is the common values among team members with different cultural backgrounds. Common values like family, community, social activities, and health represent the defining elements in negotiations and conflict resolution.
Cross-Cultural Management Journal Volume XVI, Issue 1 (5) / 2014 172 Hofstede pointed in his studies that team values are
- Fall '17