Multicultural Management in the Virtual Project Setting

Term Paper, 2013

8 Pages, Grade: 2



I. Introduction

II. Literature Review
i. Cultural Patterns based on Hofstede
Power Distance
Uncertainty Avoidance
Individualism vs. Collectivism
Masculinity vs. Femininity
Long-term vs. Short Term orientation
ii. Cultural barriers in the Management of Virtual Teams
Knowledge Sharing
Non-Verbal Communication
iii. Ethics and Trust building in Virtual Teams

III. Application

iv. Corporate Design and Strategy

v. Techniques to Manage Virtual Multicultural Teams

vi. Skills to Manage Virtual Teams

IV. Examples

vii. Virtual Team implementing Lean Sigma to Production

viii. British Petroleum CEO John Browne

V. Conclusion

VI. References

I. Introduction

Considering the development promoted through globalization and the moving together of remote cultures sets certain challenges on companies active in this global market. Especially people forming these companies meet the challenges of increased speed and interaction. Therefore for many companies it is key to match far distant markets and knowledge with each other by people not meeting face-to-face but in virtual surroundings conducting projects such as developing, launching or improving products.

II. Literature Review

i. Cultural Patterns based on Hofstede

In 1983 Hofstede presented his model of cultural dimensions based on his work on organizational theory at IBM. Since then this work is the most utilized and confirmed work in cultural analysis. The initial four dimensions base on an internal IBM research conducted in more than 50 nations. Most work concerned with culture is based on comparative analysis. That means it compares differences and examines interactions between cultural different groups (Mead & Andrews, 2009, p. 28).

Power Distance

As (Hofstede, 1983) states PD refers to a “country-level correlation of the preferred type of decision making”. What Hofstede considers here are “physical and mental differences in social status, legal rights, wealth, power and education” (Mead & Andrews, 2009, p. 35) and how people deal with this differences. Societies with Low Power Distance Indexes (PDI), mainly Western countries try to reduces inequalities and decision making is not made by the leading few whereas high PDI countries Arab and Asian countries have clearly divided societies (Mead & Andrews, 2009, p. 35ff) & (Hofstede, 1983).

Uncertainty Avoidance

The Uncertainty Avoidance Index (UAI) shows “different ways of avoiding uncertainties in life” (Hofstede, 1983). A high UAI indicates greater anxiety to lose jobs, fear of confrontation and employees expect clear rules and guidance from managers (Hofstede, 1983). While low UAI societies have greater entrepreneurial spirit and competition (Mead & Andrews, 2009, p. 39).

Individualism vs. Collectivism

This comparison looks at values and the degree they are desired (Hofstede, 1983). The more individualistic a society is, the more its members believe they are able to satisfy their needs on their own, as well as rights and achievements are respected by others in society (Mead & Andrews, 2009, p. 40). Further in an Individualistic country business is done with a company but in collectivistic it is done with people (Hofstede, et al., 2010, p. 91).

Masculinity vs. Femininity

Mead & Andrews (2009, p. 42) highlight the fact that Hofstede uses the terms “in technical senses” to differenciate between the countries importance sex roles, performance and economic advancement. Masculine cultures tend to distiguish between sex roles (men work while women stay at home and take care of household and children), advancements, earnings are very important to gain and a good relationship with the superior is relatively unimportat while challenges to get personal accomplishements are prefered (Hofstede, 1983).

In later research Hofstede added a fifth dimension to his work in order to further complete his theory on cultural differences. This dimension bases on the Chinese Value Survey from the 1980s and mainly considers his theory of Confucianism (Mead & Andrews, 2009, p. 43).

Long-term vs. Short Term orientation

The idea Hofstede associates with Confucianism ordering relationships by status and observing this order, thrift, persistence, respect for tradition and personal steadiness and stability (Hofstede, et al., 2010, pp. 236-237). “Long-term orientation stands for the fostering of virtues oriented toward future rewards;in particular, perseverance and thrift” (Hofstede, et al., 2010, p. 239).

ii. Cultural barriers in the Management of Virtual Teams

Knowledge Sharing

In their article (Ardichvili, et al., 2006) present the problem of knowledge sharing across cultures in virtual communities. In their research they argue for differences in cognitive learning of people across cultures and support this by research. Above presented cultural dimensions influece the way groups personally or virtual interact for example sharing ones experiences, expressing doubt or criticism or asking questions (Ardichvili, et al., 2006).


Although English can be considered as lingua franca in business context by far not all participants speak English as their first language. Consequently translation is necessary on a personal basis and can lead to misunderstandings and deviating interpretation (Luo & Shenkar, 2006). Further differences in accents and fluency hinder coherent communication (Brett, et al., 2006). This is especially true in multi-national companies (MNC). Luo & Shenkar (2006) conclude in their article dedicated on language that language has to be part of the multinationals strategy because of its importance.

Non-Verbal Communication

Differences in history, experience and culture lead to differing perceptions of gestures, mimics even to different in understanding words (Oosthuizen, 2004). The provoking statement by Oosthuizen (2004) “Are you Enlighting the World or are you speaking in Tongues?” presents the idea. The history of each society leads to a common knowledge / experience within the society and builds the reference for everything new. While the clear seperation of religion and state is evident for a France European living in the homecountry of the Enlightenment for a Muslim Arab living in Saudi-Arabia this is unthinkable. Further some cultures strongly distinguish between group “insiders” and “outsiders” (Mead & Andrews, 2009, pp. 40-21). While people considered in the group are entrusted, knowledge or information will not be passed to outsiders. Consequently management of multicultural teams needs to be aware of these variations.


Excerpt out of 8 pages


Multicultural Management in the Virtual Project Setting
The University of Liverpool
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
551 KB
multicultural, management, virtual, project, setting
Quote paper
Benedikt Rudnik (Author), 2013, Multicultural Management in the Virtual Project Setting, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


  • No comments yet.
Read the ebook
Title: Multicultural Management in the Virtual Project Setting

Upload papers

Your term paper / thesis:

- Publication as eBook and book
- High royalties for the sales
- Completely free - with ISBN
- It only takes five minutes
- Every paper finds readers

Publish now - it's free