Multi-Cultural Teams as Sources for Creativity and Innovation: The Role of Cultural Diversity on Team Performance

Ricarda Bouncken, Alexander Brem, Sascha Kraus

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Abstract

Multi-cultural teams are seen as a wellspring of creativity and innovativeness. Yet, we still miss an in-depth study of their potential and challenges during the innovation process in firms. This is a serious omission as many international firms are in need of improving their global innovation position by the inclusion of insights from team members of different nationalities with knowledge about markets and culture. To derive first insights, we conducted a longitudinal qualitative study in a large global company with 70 personal interviews in five innovation teams over a period of two years. These data, based on semistructured interviews, provide us with rich information about effects of cultural diversity in teams in the innovation process. Data were analysed through a thematic network analysis and two coders inductively forming categories. Results indicate that cross-cultural teams have a high potential of creativity, but are confronted with difficulties arising from different working- and communication styles which have to be proactively managed from the
beginning. While progressing, teams learn to cope with this diversity related to some more surface-level cultural dimensions and members even align. Yet, diversity of power distance induces conflicts that deeply impact the innovation process. Based on these findings, we develop a set of propositions, which lead into a conceptual model on the effects of multi-cultural team work on creativity and innovation. Finally, we discuss further implications for research and practice.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1650012
JournalInternational Journal of Innovation Management
Volume20
Issue number1
Number of pages34
ISSN1363-9196
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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Innovation
Electric network analysis
Multicultural teams
Cultural diversity
Team performance
Creativity
Communication
Innovation process
Industry

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title = "Multi-Cultural Teams as Sources for Creativity and Innovation: The Role of Cultural Diversity on Team Performance",
abstract = "Multi-cultural teams are seen as a wellspring of creativity and innovativeness. Yet, we still miss an in-depth study of their potential and challenges during the innovation process in firms. This is a serious omission as many international firms are in need of improving their global innovation position by the inclusion of insights from team members of different nationalities with knowledge about markets and culture. To derive first insights, we conducted a longitudinal qualitative study in a large global company with 70 personal interviews in five innovation teams over a period of two years. These data, based on semistructured interviews, provide us with rich information about effects of cultural diversity in teams in the innovation process. Data were analysed through a thematic network analysis and two coders inductively forming categories. Results indicate that cross-cultural teams have a high potential of creativity, but are confronted with difficulties arising from different working- and communication styles which have to be proactively managed from thebeginning. While progressing, teams learn to cope with this diversity related to some more surface-level cultural dimensions and members even align. Yet, diversity of power distance induces conflicts that deeply impact the innovation process. Based on these findings, we develop a set of propositions, which lead into a conceptual model on the effects of multi-cultural team work on creativity and innovation. Finally, we discuss further implications for research and practice.",
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Multi-Cultural Teams as Sources for Creativity and Innovation : The Role of Cultural Diversity on Team Performance. / Bouncken, Ricarda; Brem, Alexander; Kraus, Sascha.

In: International Journal of Innovation Management, Vol. 20, No. 1, 1650012, 2016.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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