Academic journal article Journal of Positive Management

Teamwork in a Cross-Cultural Context. Austria, Poland and Turkey Comparison

Academic journal article Journal of Positive Management

Teamwork in a Cross-Cultural Context. Austria, Poland and Turkey Comparison

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

Teamwork plays increasingly more important role in business life. Both in big transnational corporations and small companies, people achieve synergy through group collaboration. Teams have become an inseparable part of organizational culture of many successful organizations and an unquestionable source of their competitive advantage.

Internationalization, globalization and development of a global society create many opportunities as well as challenges for the company. Businesses are encouraged to operate abroad in developing countries with good location, tax credits and low-cost and at the same time well-skilled workforce. Therefore crosscultural teams are becoming common. In this era of globalization, companies are forced to learn how to deal with representatives of different cultures - their employees, customers and business partners. As a result, interpersonal skills turn out to be as important as technical qualifications in modern business world.

People often interpret other's behaviours looking at them from the perspective of their own values, attitudes as well as behaviours desired in the environment they grew up. However individuals differ in the way they perceive time and space. Various importance is paid to relations with others and with environment. People differently perceive issues such as: beauty, life, death, source and goal of living. Beliefs concerning these and other issues determine people's behaviours not only in their daily life but also at work. They influence the way people communicate, treat their business partners, negotiate and make decisions. Basic assumptions and beliefs determine how contacts between manager and his subordinates look like. Moreover, they influence relations between co-workers, international business partners, communication between parent company and its subsidiaries as well as other people. A manager working in international environment has to be able to recognize, acknowledge and react to existing opportunities as well as threats the global economy creates.

The importance of cultural background for business was confirmed by the research conducted by G. Hofstede. The results show that national culture explains up to 50% of all the differences in attitudes and behaviours of people at work (Adler and Gundersen, 2008).

2. Theoretical background

Culture can be defined in many ways. According to G. Hofstede it is "the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from another" (Hofstede, 1991). Trompenaars describes it as "the way in which group of people solves problems" (Trompenaars, 1993). The most comprehensive definition of culture was presented by A. L. Kroeber and C. Kluckhohn which states - "Culture consists of patterns, explicit and implicit, of and for behaviour acquired and transmitted by symbols, constituting the distinctive achievements of human groups, including their embodiment in artefacts; the essential core of culture consists of traditional (i.e. historically derived and selected) ideas and especially their attached values; culture systems may, on the one hand, be considered as products of action, and on the other as conditioning elements of further action" (Adler and Gundersen, 2008).

A team can be defined as a small group of people who have complementary skills and are dedicated to the realization of tasks they feel responsible for (Smolenski, 2002). R. Johnson highlights, that to speak about the team and not only a group, its members have to share common goals, be integrated and collaborate effectively. (Johnson, 1999) Therefore, team can be described as a "group of people with a full set of complementary skills required to complete a task, job, or project. Team members operate with high degree of interdependence, share authority and responsibility for self-management, are accountable for the collective performance, and work toward a common goal and shared rewards. …

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