Leading intercultural teams









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Leading intercultural project teams in an international corporation is commonplace in today’s business environment. In practice, management must focus not only on their core competence, but also on fostering intercultural understanding. Only managers who have acquired those skills and know how to utilize them can complete projects more successfully and more efficiently.


The dimensions of national culture

In his research, Professor Geert Hofstede, a Dutch expert in cultural science, found out that cultural groups have a big influence on the behavior of companies, especially on its organization and leadership. He identified six dimensions that characterize each culture:


  • Power Distance Index – PDI
  • Individualism versus Collectivism - IDV
  • Masculinity versus Femininity - MAS
  • Uncertainty Avoidance Index – UAI
  • Long-Term Orientation versus Short Term Normative Orientation – LTO 
  • Indulgence versus Restraint - IVR

Individualism vs. Collectivism


Using the example of two dimensions I would like to explain how differing cultures might have an impact on the teamwork. In cultures with distinctive individualism, such as the West or Eastern Europe, interest in each individual is a top priority. Self-determination and autonomy are essential. In cultures where collectivism predominates, interest in the groups’ well-being is vital and values such as loyalty and integration define the actions.   



Characteristics of Individualism

Characteristics of





Direct, open

Indirect, symbolic



Immediate confrontation between the parties involved

Harmony is more important; a mediator is consulted

Thematization of mistakes

Pragmatic approach: the understanding of fault and justice prevails u

Relational approach: Shame and honour define the steps that follow


Management / Leadership

Mainly cooperative partnership

Mainly authoritarian and paternalistic


If you observe the actions of foreign cultures through the lens of our own culture, they seem strange or even wrong. Hence, it is of great importance that the manager finds a way to unite the different aspects of intercultural project teams. I will gladly assist you in achieving this!




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