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Cross Cultural Differences and their Implications for Managing International Projects F.T. Anbari, E.V. Khilkhanova, M.V. Romanova, & S.A. Umpleby The.

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Presentation on theme: "Cross Cultural Differences and their Implications for Managing International Projects F.T. Anbari, E.V. Khilkhanova, M.V. Romanova, & S.A. Umpleby The."— Presentation transcript:

1 Cross Cultural Differences and their Implications for Managing International Projects F.T. Anbari, E.V. Khilkhanova, M.V. Romanova, & S.A. Umpleby The George Washington University

2 Widely accepted studies Geert Hofstede’s study of IBM employees in many countries Fons Trompenaars more recent study of cultural differences Z. Aycan, et al.’s socio-cultural dimensions

3 Groups of distinctions Relations between people Motivational orientation Attitudes toward time Socio-cultural dimensions

4 Relations between people Universalism vs. particularism -- a rule- oriented society (a well-developed legal system) vs. a person-oriented society Individualism vs. communitarianism – the individual is more important than the group or the group is more important than the individual

5 Motivational orientation Sharply defined roles for men and women vs. similar roles Uncertainty avoidance – seeking to avoid uncertainty vs. tolerating high uncertainty Power distance – people feel comfortable with large differences in power among people or they prefer equality

6 Attitudes toward time Long-term vs. short term orientation – patient about results or not Sequential vs. synchronic – prefer to do tasks one at a time or comfortable doing several things at once Inner vs. outer time – preference for working on one’s own schedule or comfortable working on group’s schedule

7 Socio-cultural dimensions Paternalism – superiors provide guidance, protection, and nurturing while subordinates are loyal and deferential Fatalism – the belief that it is not possible to control the outcomes of one’s actions, so hard work and long-term plans are not worthwhile

8 Western vs. Non-Western Values Individualism Achievement Equality Winning Internal self-control Pride Respect for results Respect competence Time is money Collectivism/ group Modesty Hierarchy Harmony External control Saving face Respect for status Respect elders Time is life

9 Western vs. Non-Western Values Action/ doing Systematic Tasks Informal Assertiveness Future/ change Control Specific/ linear Verbal Being/ acceptance Humanistic Relationship/ loyalty Formal Indirectness Past/ tradition Fate Holistic Non-verbal

10 Y2K, a successful project Each nation and organization set up its own year 2000 computer project Information was widely shared among technical specialists via the internet People recognized all would benefit by sharing information Top management supported the work Needed funds were made available

11 Iridium, a failed project A satellite telecommunication network costing $5 billion and involving 6000 engineers and managers in 26 countries Sold for $25 million in 2000 The international structure was almost impossible to manage – many languages, cross-cultural differences, different styles of management and communication

12 Conclusions There is an increasing number of international projects Multi-cultural teams are needed Cultural differences need to be seen as an asset, not a liability Managers need to be culturally aware and flexible in their leadership styles


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