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团队管理战略-哈佛商业周刊发表文献harvard business review |指导美国essay essay格式When a major international software developerneeded to produce a new product quickly, the projectmanager assembled a team of employees from India andthe United States. From the start the team memberscould not agree on a delivery date for the product. TheAmericans thought the work could be done in two tothree weeks; the Indians predicted it would take twoto three months.As time went on, the Indian team membersproved reluctant to report setbacks in the productionprocess, which the American team members would findout about only when work was due to be passed to them.Such conflicts, of course,may affect any team, but in thiscase they arose from cultural differences. As tensionsmounted, conflict over delivery dates and feedback becamepersonal, disrupting team members’ communicationabout even mundane issues. The project managerdecided he had to intervene–with the result that both theAmerican and the Indian team members came to rely onhim for direction regarding minute operational detailsTeams whose members come fromdifferent nations and backgroundsplace special demands on managers–especially when a feuding team looksto the boss for help with a Jeanne Brett, Kristin Behfar, and Mary C. KernJILL CALDERTeams Managing Multicultural

Managing Multicultural Teamsthat the team should have been able to handle itself. Themanager became so bogged down by quotidian issuesthat the project careened hopelessly off even the mostpessimistic schedule–and the team never learned to worktogether effectively.Multicultural teams often generate frustrating managementdilemmas. Cultural differences can create substantialobstacles to effective teamwork–but these may be subtleand difficult to recognize until significant damage has alreadybeen done.As in the case above, which the managerinvolved told us about, managers may create more problemsthan they resolve by intervening. The challenge inmanaging multicultural teams effectively is to recognizeunderlying cultural causes of conflict, and to intervene inways that both get the team back on track and empowerits members to deal with future challenges themselves.We interviewed managers and members of multiculturalteams from all over the world. These interviews,combined with our deep research on dispute resolutionand teamwork, led us to conclude that the wrong kind ofmanagerial intervention may sideline valuable memberswho should be participating or, worse, create resistance,resulting in poor team performance. We’re not talkinghere about respecting differing national standards fordoing business, such as accounting practices.We’re referringto day-to-day workingproblemsamong team membersthat can keep multicultural teams from realizingthe very gains they were set up to harvest, such as knowledge#p#分页标题#e#of different product markets, culturally sensitivecustomer service, and 24-hour work rotations.The good news is that cultural challenges are manageableif managers and team members choose the rightstrategy and avoid imposing single-culture-based approacheson multicultural situations.The Challenges指导美国essayPeople tend to assume that challenges on multiculturalteams arise from differing styles of communication. Butthis is only one of the four categories that, according toour research, can create barriers to a team’s ultimate success.These categories are direct versus indirect communication;trouble with accents and fluency; differing attitudestoward hierarchy and authority; and conflictingnorms for decision making.Direct versus indirect communication. Communicationin Western cultures is typically direct and explicit.The meaning is on the surface, and a listener doesn’t haveto know much about the context or the speaker to interpretit. This is not true in many other cultures, wheremeaning is embedded in the way the message is presented.For example, Western negotiators get crucial informationabout the other party’s preferences and prioritiesby asking direct questions, such as “Do you preferoption A or option B?” In cultures that use indirect communication,negotiators may have to infer preferencesand priorities from changes – or the lack of them – in theother party’s settlement proposal. In cross-cultural negotiations,the non-Westerner can understand the directcommunications of the Westerner, but the Westernerhas difficulty understanding the indirect communicationsof the non-Westerner.An American manager who was leading a project tobuild an interface for a U.S. and Japanese customer-datasystem explained the problems her team was having thisway: “In Japan, they want to talk and discuss. Then wetake a break and they talk within the organization. Theywant to make sure that there’s harmony in the rest ofthe organization. One of the hardest lessons for me waswhen I thought they were saying yes but they just meant‘I’m listening to you.’”The differences between direct and indirect communicationcan cause serious damage to relationships whenteam projects run into problems. When the Americanmanager quoted above discovered that several flaws inthe system would significantly disrupt company operations,she pointed this out in an e-mail to her Americanboss and the Japanese team members. Her boss appreciatedthe direct warnings; her Japanese colleagues wereembarrassed, because she had violated their norms foruncovering and discussing problems. Their reaction wasto provide her with less access to the people and informationshe needed to monitor progress. They would probablyhave responded better if she had pointed out theproblems indirectly – for example, by asking them whatwould happen if a certain part of the system was not functioning#p#分页标题#e#properly, even though she knew full well that itwas malfunctioning and also what the implications were.As our research indicates is so often true, communicationchallenges create barriers to effective teamworkby reducing information sharing, creating interpersonalconflict, or both. In Japan, a typical response to direct confrontationis to isolate the norm violator. This Americanmanager was isolated not just socially but also physically.She told us, “They literally put my office in a storageroom, where I had desks stacked from floor to ceiling andI was the only person there. So they totally isolated me,which was a pretty loud signal to me that I was not a partof the inside circle and that they would communicatewith me only as needed.”86 harvard business review | hbr.orgJeanne Brett is the DeWitt W. Buchanan, Jr., Distinguished Professor of Dispute Resolution and Organizations and the directorof the Dispute Resolution Research Center at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management in Evanston, Illinois.Kristin Behfar is an assistant professor at the Paul Merage School of Business at the University of California at Irvine.Mary C. Kern is an assistant professor at the Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College in New York.Managing Multicultural TeamsHer direct approach had been intended to solve a problem,and in one sense, it did, because her project waslaunched problem-free. But her norm violations exacerbatedthe challenges of working with her Japanese colleagueslimited her ability to uncover any other problemsthat might have derailed the project later on.Trouble with accents and fluency. Although the languageof international business is English, misunderstandingsor deep frustration may occur because of nonnativespeakers’ accents, lack of fluency, or problems with translationor usage. These may also influence perceptions ofstatus or competence.For example, a Latin American member of a multiculturalconsulting team lamented, “Many times I felt thatbecause of the language difference, I didn’t have thewords to say some things that I was thinking. I noticedthat when I went to these interviews with the U.S. guy,he would tend to lead the interviews, which was understandablebut also disappointing, because we are at thesame level. I had very good questions, but he would takethe lead.”When we interviewed an American member of a U.S.-Japanese team that was assessing the potential expansionof a U.S. retail chain into Japan, she described oneAmerican teammate this way: “He was not interested inthe Japanese consultants’ feedback and felt that becausethey weren’t as fluent as he was, they weren’t intelligentenough and, therefore, could add no value.” The teammember described was responsible for assessing one aspectof the feasibility of expansion into Japan. Withoutinput from the Japanese experts, he risked overestimating#p#分页标题#e#opportunities and underestimating challenges.Nonfluent team members may well be the most experton the team, but their difficulty communicating knowledgemakes it hard for the team to recognize and utilizetheir expertise. If teammates become frustrated or impatientwith a lack of fluency, interpersonal conflicts canarise. Nonnative speakers may become less motivated tocontribute, or anxious about their performance evaluationsand future career prospects. The organization as awhole pays a greater price: Its investment in a multiculturalteam fails to pay off.Some teams, we learned, use language differences toresolve (rather than create) tensions. A team of U.S. andLatin American buyers was negotiating with a team froma Korean supplier. The negotiations took place in Korea,but the discussions were conducted in English.Frequentlythe Koreans would caucus at the table by speaking Korean.The buyers, frustrated, would respond by appearingto caucus in Spanish – though they discussed only inconsequentialcurrent events and sports, in case any of theKoreans spoke Spanish.Members of the team who didn’tspeak Spanish pretended to participate, to the greatamusement of their teammates. This approach proved effective:It conveyed to the Koreans in an appropriatelyindirect way that their caucuses in Korean were frustratingand annoying to the other side.As a result, both teamscut back on sidebar conversations.Differing attitudes toward hierarchy and authority.A challenge inherent in multicultural teamwork is thatby design, teams have a rather flat structure. But teammembers from some cultures, in which people are treateddifferently according to their status in an organization,are uncomfortable on flat teams. If they defer to higherstatusteam members, their behavior will be seen as appropriatewhen most of the team comes from a hierarchicalculture; but they may damage their stature andcredibility – and even face humiliation – if most of theteam comes from an egalitarian culture.One manager of Mexican heritage, who was workingon a credit and underwriting team for a bank, told us,“InMexican culture, you’re always supposed to be humble.Sowhether you understand something or not, you’re supposedto put it in the form of a question.You have to keepit open-ended, out of respect. I think that actually workedagainst me, because the Americans thought I really didn’tknow what I was talking about. So it made me feel likethey thought I was wavering on my answer.”When, as a result of differing cultural norms, teammembers believe they’ve been treated disrespectfully,the whole project can blow up. In another Korean-U.S.negotiation, the American members of a due diligenceteam were having difficulty getting information fromtheir Korean counterparts, so they complained directly tohigher-level Korean management, nearly wrecking thedeal. The higher-level managers were offended becausehierarchy is strictly adhered to in Korean organizationsand culture. It should have been their own lower-levelpeople, not the U.S. team members, who came to themwith a problem. And the Korean team members weremortified that their bosses had been involved before theythemselves could brief them. The crisis was resolved only#p#分页标题#e#when high-level U.S. managers made a trip to Korea, conveyingappropriate respect for their Korean counterparts.november 2006 87Communication inWestern cultures is typically direct and explicit.In many other cultures, meaning is embedded in the way the message is presented.The differences can cause serious damage to team relationships.manent or temporary? Does the team’s manager have theautonomy to make a decision about changing the team insome way? Once the situational conditions have been analyzed,the team’s leader can identify an appropriate response(see the exhibit “Identifying the Right Strategy”).Adaptation. Some teams find ways to work with oraround the challenges they face, adapting practices or attitudeswithout making changes to the group’s membershipor assignments. Adaptation works when teammembers are willing to acknowledge and name their culturaldifferences and to assume responsibility for figuringout how to live with them. It’s often the best possibleapproach to a problem, because it typically involves lessmanagerial time than other strategies; and because teammembers participate in solving the problem themselves,they learn from the process. When team members havethis mind-set, they can be creative about protecting theirown substantive differences while acceding to the processesof others.An American software engineer located in Ireland whowas working with an Israeli account management teamfrom his own company told us how shocked he was by theIsraelis’ in-your-face style: “There were definitely differentways of approaching issues and discussing them. There issomething pretty common to the Israeli culture: Theylike to argue. I tend to try to collaborate more, and it gotvery stressful for me until I figured out how to kind ofmerge the cultures.”The software engineer adapted. He imposed somestructure on the Israelis that helped him maintain hiown style of being thoroughly prepared; that accommodationenabled him to accept the Israeli style.He also noticedthat team members weren’t just confronting him;they confronted one another but were able to work togethereffectively nevertheless. He realized that the confrontationwas not personal but cultural.In another example, an American member of a postmergerconsulting team was frustrated by the hierarchyof the French company his team was working with. Hefelt that a meeting with certain French managers whowere not directly involved in the merger“wouldn’t deliverany value to me or for purposes of the project,” but saidthat he had come to understand that “it was very importantto really involve all the people there” if the integrationwas ultimately to work.A U.S. and UK multicultural team tried to use their differingapproaches to decision making to reach a higher-Conflicting norms for decision making. Cultures differenormously when it comes to decision making–particularly,how quickly decisions should be made and howmuch analysis is required beforehand. Not surprisingly,U.S. managers like to make decisions very quickly andwith relatively little analysis by comparison with managers#p#分页标题#e#from other countries.A Brazilian manager at an American company whowas negotiating to buy Korean products destined forLatin America told us, “On the first day, we agreed onthree points, and on the second day, the U.S.-Spanish sidewanted to start with point four. But the Korean side wantedto go back and rediscuss points one through three. Myboss almost had an attack.”What members learn from an experience likethis is that the American way simply cannot be imposedon other cultures. Managers from other cultures may, forexample, decline to share information until they understandthe full scope of a project. But they have learnedthat they can’t simply ignore the desire of their Americancounterparts to make decisions quickly. What to do? Thebest solution seems to be to make minor concessions onprocess–to learn to adjust to and even respect another approachto decision making.For example,American managershave learned to keep their impatient bosses away fromteam meetings and give them frequent if brief updates.A comparable lesson for managers from other cultures isto be explicit about what they need – saying, for example,“We have to see the big picture before we talk details.”Four StrategiesThe most successful teams and managers we interviewedused four strategies for dealing with these challenges:adaptation (acknowledging cultural gaps openly andworking around them), structural intervention (changingthe shape of the team), managerial intervention (settingnorms early or bringing in a higher-level manager), andexit(removing a team member when other options havefailed). There is no one right way to deal with a particularkind of multicultural problem; identifying the type ofchallenge is only the first step. The more crucial step isassessing the circumstances – or “enabling situationalconditions”–under which the team is working. For example,does the project allow any flexibility for change, or dodeadlines make that impossible? Are there additional resourcesavailable that might be tapped? Is the team per-88 harvard business review | hbr.orgManaging Multicultural TeamsTeam members who are uncomfortable on flat teams may,by deferring to higher-status teammates, damage their stature and credibility–and even face humiliation–if most of the team is from an egalitarian culture.including the most unlikely, while the U.S. memberschomped at the bit and muttered about analysis paralysis.The strength of this team was that some of its memberswere willing to forge ahead and some were willing towork through pitfalls. To accommodate them all, theteam did both–moving not quite as fast as the U.S. memberswould have on their own and not quite as thoroughlyas the UK members would have.Structural intervention. A structural intervention isa deliberate reorganization or reassignment designed toreduce interpersonal friction or to remove a source ofconflict for one or more groups. This approach can bequality decision. This approach, called fusion, is gettingserious attention from political scientists and from governmentofficials dealing with multicultural populationsthat want to protect their cultures rather than integrateor assimilate. If the team had relied exclusively on the#p#分页标题#e#Americans’“forge ahead”approach, it might not have recognizedthe pitfalls that lay ahead and might later havehad to back up and start over. Meanwhile, the UK memberswould have been gritting their teeth and saying “Wetold you things were moving too fast.” If the team hadused the “Let’s think about this” UK approach, it mighthave wasted a lot of time trying to identify every pitfall,Managing Multicultural Teamsnovember 2006 89Identifying the Right StrategyThe most successful teams and managers we interviewed use four strategies for dealing with problems: adaptation(acknowledging cultural gaps openly and working around them), structural intervention (changing the shape of theteam), managerial intervention (setting norms early or bringing in a higher-level manager), and exit (removing a teammember when other options have failed). Adaptation is the ideal strategy because the team works effectively tosolve its own problem with minimal input from management– and, most important, learns from the experience. Theguide below can help you identify the right strategy once you have identified both the problem and the “enablingsituational conditions” that apply to the team.REPRESENTATIVEPROBLEMS• Conflict arises from decisionmakingdifferences• Misunderstanding or stonewallingarises from communicationdifferences• The team is affected by emotionaltensions relating to fluencyissues or prejudice• Team members are inhibitedby perceived status differencesamong teammates• Violations of hierarchy haveresulted in loss of face• An absence of ground rulesis causing conflict• A team member cannot adjustto the challenge at handand has become unable tocontribute to the projectENABLING SITUATIONALCONDITIONS• Team members can attribute achallenge to culture rather thanpersonality• Higher-level managers are notavailable or the team would beembarrassed to involve them• The team can be subdividedto mix cultures or expertise• Tasks can be subdivided• The problem has produceda high level of emotion• The team has reacheda stalemate• A higher-level manager is ableand willing to intervene• The team is permanent ratherthan temporary• Emotions are beyond the pointof intervention• Too much face has been lostCOMPLICATINGFACTORS• Team members mustbe exceptionally aware• Negotiating a commonunderstanding takestime• If team members aren’tcarefully distributed, subgroupscan strengthenpreexisting differences• Subgroup solutions指导美国essayhave to fit back together• The team becomesoverly dependent#p#分页标题#e#on the manager• Team members maybe sidelined or resistant• Talent and trainingcosts are lostSTRATEGYAdaptationStructuralInterventionManagerialInterventionExitManaging Multicultural Teamsextremely effective when obvious subgroups demarcatethe team (for example, headquarters versus nationalsubsidiaries) or if team members are proud, defensive,threatened, or clinging to negative stereotypes of oneanother.A member of an investment research team scatteredacross continental Europe, the UK, and the U.S. describedfor us how his manager resolved conflicts stemming fromstatus differences and language tensions among theteam’s three “tribes.” The manager started by havingthe team meet face-to-face twice a year, not to discussmundane day-to-day problems (of which there weremany) but to identify a set of values that the team woulduse to direct and evaluate its progress. At the first meeting,he realized that when he started to speak, everyoneelse “shut down,”waiting to hear what he had to say. So hehired a consultant to run future meetings. The consultantdidn’t represent a hierarchical threat and was thereforeable to get lots of participation from team members.Another structural intervention might be to createsmaller working groups of mixed cultures or mixed corporateidentities in order to get at information that is notforthcoming from the team as a whole. The manager ofthe team that was evaluating retail opportunities in Japanused this approach. When she realized that the femaleJapanese consultants would not participate if the groupgot large, or if their male superior was present, she brokethe team up into smaller groups to try to solve problems.She used this technique repeatedly and made a point ofchanging the subgroups’ membership each time so thatteam members got to know and respect everyone else onthe team.The subgrouping technique involves risks, however. Itbuffers people who are not working well together or notparticipating in the larger group for one reason or another.Sooner or later the team will have to assemble thepieces that the subgroups have come up with, so this approachrelies on another structural intervention: Someonemust become a mediator in order to see that the variouspieces fit together.Managerial intervention. When a manager behaveslike an arbitrator or a judge, making a final decision withoutteam involvement, neither the manager nor the teamgains much insight into why the team has stalemated.But it is possible for team members to use managerialintervention effectively to sort out problems.When an American refinery-safety expert with#p#分页标题#e#significant experience throughout East Asia gotstymied during a project in China, she called inher company’s higher-level managers in Beijingto talk to the higher-level managers to whom theChinese refinery’s managers reported. Unlikethe Western team members who breached etiquetteby approaching the superiors of their Koreancounterparts, the safety expert made sureto respect hierarchies in both organizations.“Trying to resolve the issues,” she told us,“thelocal management at the Chinese refinery wouldend up having conferences with our Beijing officeand also with the upper management withinthe refinery. Eventually they understood that weweren’t trying to insult them or their culture orto tell them they were bad in any way.We weretrying to help. They eventually understood thatthere were significant fire and safety issues. Butwe actually had to go up some levels of managementto get those resolved.”Managerial intervention to set norms early ina team’s life can really help the team start outwith effective processes. In one instance reportedto us, a multicultural software developmentteam’s lingua franca was English, but some members,though they spoke grammatically correctEnglish, had a very pronounced accent. In settingthe ground rules for the team, the manager addressedthe challenge directly, telling the membersthat they had been chosen for their task expertise,not their fluency in English, and that the90 harvard business review | hbr.orgManaging Multicultural Teamsteam was going to have to work around language problems.As the project moved to the customer-services trainingstage, the manager advised the team members to acknowledgetheir accents up front. She said they shouldtell customers,“I realize I have an accent. If you don’t understandwhat I’m saying, just stop me and ask questions.”Exit. Possibly because many of the teams we studiedwere project based, we found that leaving the team was aninfrequent strategy for managing challenges. In short-termsituations, unhappy team members often just waited outthe project. When teams were permanent, producingproducts or services, the exit of one or more members wasa strategy of last resort, but it was used – either voluntarilyor after a formal request from management. Exit waslikely when emotions were running high and too muchface had been lost on both sides to salvage the situation.An American member of a multicultural consultingteam described the conflict between two senior consultants,one a Greek woman and the other a Polish man,over how to approach problems: “The woman fromGreece would say,‘Here’s the way I think we should do it.’#p#分页标题#e#It would be something that she was in control of. Theguy from Poland would say,‘I think we should actually doit this way instead.’ The woman would kind of turn redin the face, upset, and say, ‘I just don’t think that’s theright way of doing it.’ It would definitely switch from justprofessional differences to personal differences.“The woman from Greece ended up leaving the firm.That was a direct result of probably all the different issuesgoing on between these people. It really just wasn’t agood fit. I’ve found that oftentimes when you’re in consulting,you have to adapt to the culture, obviously, butyou have to adapt just as much to the style of whoever isleading the project.”Though multicultural teams face challenges that are notdirectly attributable to cultural differences, such differencesunderlay whatever problem needed to be addressedin many of the teams we studied. Furthermore, while seriousin their own right when they have a negative effecton team functioning, cultural challenges may also unmaskfundamental managerial problems. Managers who interveneearly and set norms; teams and managers who structuresocial interaction and work to engage everyone onthe team; and teams that can see problems as stemmingfrom culture, not personality, approach challenges withgood humor and creativity. Managers who have to intervenewhen the team has reached a stalemate may be ableto get the team moving again, but they seldom empowerit to help itself the next time a stalemate occurs.When frustrated team members take some time to thinkthrough challenges and possible solutions themselves, itcan make a huge difference. Take, for example, this storyabout a financial-services call center. The members of thecall-center team were all fluent Spanish-speakers, but somewere North Americans and some were Latin Americans.Team performance, measured by calls answered per hour,was lagging. One Latin American was taking twice aslong with her calls as the rest of the team. She was handlingcallers’ questions appropriately, but she was alsoengaging in chitchat. When her teammates confrontedher for being a free rider (they resented having to makeup for her low call rate), she immediately acknowledgedthe problem, admitting that she did not know how toend the call politely – chitchat being normal in her culture.They rallied to help her: Using their technology, theywould break into any of her calls that went overtime, excusingthemselves to the customer, offering to take overthe call, and saying that this employee was urgently#p#分页标题#e#needed to help out on a different call. The team’s solutionworked in the short run, and the employee got better atending her calls in the long run.In another case, the Indian manager of a multiculturalteam coordinating a companywide IT project found himselffrustrated when he and a teammate from Singaporemet with two Japanese members of the coordinatingteam to try to get the Japan section to deliver its part ofthe project. The Japanese members seemed to be sayingyes, but in the Indian manager’s view, their followthroughwas insufficient. He considered and rejected theidea of going up the hierarchy to the Japanese team members’boss, and decided instead to try to build consensuswith the whole Japanese IT team, not just the two memberson the coordinating team. He and his Singaporeteammate put together an eBusiness road show, took it toJapan, invited the whole IT team to view it at a lunchmeeting, and walked through success stories about otherparts of the organization that had aligned with the company’slarger business priorities. It was rather subtle, hetold us, but it worked. The Japanese IT team wanted to bespotlighted in future eBusiness road shows. In the end,the whole team worked well together – and no higherlevelmanager had to get involved.Reprint R0611DTo order, see page 159.november 2006 91指导美国essay One team manager addressed the language challenge directly,telling the members that they had been chosen for their task expertise, not theirfluency in English, and that the team would have to work around problems.


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