Document Type

Closed Project

Publication Date

Winter 2003


Dragan Milosevic

Course Title

Communications and Team Building

Course Number

EMGT 522/622



This paper explores various issues that affect the performance of cross-cultural teams. Specifically these issues include team composition, communication, cultural sense making, and performance feedback systems. A team is formed of a small number of people with complementary skills to meet a performance challenge. In a cross-cultural environment, the composition of the team plays an important role in determining a team’s success. This paper discusses various aspects of team composition such as team size, team leader, coach, sponsor, team member skills and competencies, and the level of diversity to make the team a cohesive unit. In order to enjoy the benefits of this cohesion and sustain it, communication is key. Open communication and team interaction leads to commitment and motivation towards team goals. Certain barriers to communication, which are unique to cross cultural teams, need to be overcome to reach these goals. This paper discusses the geographical, language, and cultural barriers, as well as options to surmount them and develop trust in the team. Another way of building a cohesive unit is for team members to understand other members’ cultures and interpret them effectively to avoid misunderstanding and conflict. Cultural stereotyping and paradoxes are explored in this paper with a view toward facilitating team performance. Finally, this paper discusses the effects of culture on performance appraisal and feedback systems in a cross-cultural environment. Various cultural variables are identified that affect feedback giving and feedback seeking behaviors. The criteria for developing an effective feedback system in a cross-cultural team are also discussed. Throughout discussion of these four issues is the importance of team performance. Mediocrity or status quo is easy to achieve; the key to creating a performance driven cross-cultural team involves accurate understanding of composition, communication, and cultural sense making, seasoned with a proper performance appraisal feedback system. While these do not exhaust all issues related to cross-cultural teams, they do provide a roadmap for further exploration and research into this performance opportunity.


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