Looking For A Phd In Business


North Central University

School of Business

Cultural Awareness in Global Teams

By: Patrick Emmanuel

Supervisor: Dr. Butler

A research proposal submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Business Administration Project Management

San Diego, California

December 2018


Chapter 2: Literature Review

Introduction 3

The Context of Culture…………………………………………………………………………….4

The Concept of Team Development 5

The Need for Dynamic Leadership Structures in Multicultural Teams 8

Conceptual Perspectives on Multicultural Teams11

i. Tuckman’s Model 11

ii. Hofstede’s Concept 12

iii. Trompenaars Concept 14

Managing Team Conflicts 16

Management Approaches to Multicultural Teams 18

Conclusion 21

References 23

Chapter II – Literature Review


Advancement in technologies and globalization has led to expansion of markets and economies. This has meant that people are able to move in pursuit of market and business opportunities and this has enhanced cultural interaction. Cultural diversity sets in as businesses expand and people move across continents. This enhances multiculturalism within companies as people work outside their geographical scope. Multicultural teams in organizations from one context create management dilemmas (Han & Beyerlein, 2016). Generally, cultural differences generate substantial obstacles to efficient and effective teamwork (Meyer & Erin, 2012). The main challenge to leading multicultural teams efficiently and effectively is understanding the cultural causes of conflicts among personnel and then adopting strategies that both teams feel equal (Goetsch & Davis, 2014). This helps to empower all team members to deal with any future cultural challenges in the most efficient way.

Leadership within organizations is key especially where the workforce emanate from different cultures. Teams formed through a culturally diverse workforce can prove successful through integration of a sound leadership (Huang, 2016). The purpose of this study is to examine how culture affects formation and establishment of teams within the global realms. In supporting this study, this literature review provides the background essential to understand the underlying issues that relate to culture and teams leading to improvement in the role and goal of teams. This chapter includes a review of current literature that relates to: (a) The context of culture (b) the concept of team development (c) the need for dynamic leadership structure in multicultural teams (d) theoretical perspective of multicultural teams (e) managing conflicts in teams, and (f) management approach to multicultural teams.

The Context of Culture

Communities all over the world have different beliefs, practices and patterns of culture. Culture depicts the art, knowledge, belief, law, moral custom that is passed on from one generation to another. It defines the way of life of a community, tribe or society that includes the general customs and beliefs of that particular group (Smith, 2014). It is that social domain that holds the meaning and view of life in common to a specific particular group. Cultural beliefs and ideas are not equally valid and that the cultural environment do not define the truth. This means that beliefs are not relative to a person within a set of cultural identity but are relative to the society as a whole. Appreciating other people’s culture presents the standards of civilization as people are able to live together without prejudice (Jonathan, 2013). This is the first step towards creating a world where everybody feels part of without feeling inferior based on cultural alienation.

Culture generally means growth of a group’s identity that is fostered by social patterns that are unique to the particular group (Smith, 2014). Technological aspects provide a medium where portrayals of self-identity and depiction of cultural images can provide a means where truism is established. Cultural relativism depicts the concepts of regarding the values, practices and beliefs of a culture from an approach of the culture itself. It has greatly impacted on social sciences in the area of anthropology. For instance, in cultural relativism some words in one language may have a different meaning in another culture. Cultural relativism asserts that ethical or moral systems that vary from one culture to another are equal in all aspects and that no one moral setting is better than the other. Any opinion on ethics or morality is subjected to the cultural approach of a person. Cultural beliefs and ideas are equally valid and that the cultural environment defines the truth (Jonathan, 2013). This means that beliefs are relative to a person within a set of cultural identity.

The Concepts of Team Development

A team refers to a group of people who are committed to achieve common objectives (Gaudes, Bogart, Marsh & Robinson, 2015). They operate with a stronger degree of interdependence, are accountable for a collective performance, share responsibility and authority, all these are aimed at working towards a common goal. They have a set of complementary knowledge and skills required in completing a project, task, or job. A team therefore forms more than a collection of people when a stronger sense of mutual commitment results to creation of synergy thereby generating performance that is more than the sum performance of the individual members (Körner, Wirtz, Bengel & Göritz, 2015).

Aldag and Kuzuhara (2016) provides basic elements that should be implemented in a team to enhance effectiveness and realization of goals; he defines five factors that drive performance in teams:

Independence – Aldag and Kuzuhara (2016) asserts that teams should be independence. Independence means that the results of each member are influenced through the actions of other team members. The structure of a team should require cooperative interdependence as such a structure means that team members are able to bring out their knowledge and skills based on the task at hand.

Common goal – the structure of teams should incorporate common goals that are clearly communicated at the formation of a team. The team concept is defined by common goals. One of the key elements of common goal in the establishment of teams is first defining the mission statement and values. This helps to shape the agenda of the team and the process of meeting its targets.

Cohesion – cohesion means that members are positive and are attracted to the team. The concept of cohesion in task-oriented teams can be defined in two settings: social cohesion in the relationship of interpersonal desire that binds the members of a team; task cohesion defines how abilities and skills of members in a team overlap to enable efficiency in execution of tasks.

Roles and Standards – teams develop a set of norms and roles. The structure of teams should allow members to be able to respond to situations effectively. In a scenario where tasks are conjunctive and divisible, task attribution to particular members who can be able to perform efficiently is important. The role structure is essential in team building exercise. The rules and standards that govern the behavior of team members incorporates rewards and sanctions for not meeting the standards.

Communication – Finally, Aldag and Kuzuhara (2016) focuses on interpersonal communication. Interpersonal communication proves essential for proper functioning of teams as a platform is provided for exchange of skills, knowledge and ideas. The communication loop facilitates active listening and provision of feedback.

Teams therefore can achieve greater results and therefore more efforts and time are spent in developing teams and building teams. Other benefits of working in teams include (Ramon and Kuzuhara, 2015):

Shared ideas

This is one of the main benefits of team environment as ideas are shared among the group members. As a team, members can contribute on personal basis the pros and cons of taking a course of action or an approach to a task or methods of accomplishing key goals. This collaboration ensures implementing an effective approach and meeting the objectives in an efficient manner (Adler, 2002).

Increased efficiency

This enables things to be done much faster. When a team commits to a task or project, it’s done more quickly and with increased efficiency than when one person was charged with completing the task. Teams also prove to be cost effective as team goals are met more quickly since a greater number of people are working on the task.

Accountability in the weak areas

Working as a team compensates for weaker areas as workload is distributed in such a way that a person’s strength is considered when distributing tasks (Adler, 2002). The weaker areas are therefore taken care of by individuals who are skilled in that particular area. This results to creation of a stronger and skilled workforce where teamwork opportunity is used to improve the project across the board.

Leadership Structure in Multicultural Teams

Team Leadership Attributes

Leadership styles encompass the various methods that leaders apply in order to meet the organizations goals. It can have influential effects towards its staff and the organization and can tell whether the organization is progressing or not. Within teams, the form of leadership dictates whether the team is able to realize its goals as expected or not (Philip, 2016). This is based on the fact that leadership shapes the process of delivery within teams.

Autocratic is when a leader has full control in making quick decisions. There is no need for team participation even if their ideas would be useful. However, Autocratic leaders usually make decisions according to their own personal view and judgments for successful results. It leads to less team participation and high levels of staff turnover (Ansari, 2015).

Autocratic leadership is also a style of leadership whereby the organization’s procedures are bound by rules. There is a strict set of rules among the departments or people (Ansari, 2015). For the organization that don’t encourage self-renewal or change, people are familiarized with many rules and guidelines. However, if this style of leadership is used not well maintained, then it can cause negative results causing a lack of partnership and work among the team.

Democratic leaders involve team members in making final decision processes. It encourages people to engage in decisions, projects and also being creative (Philip, 2016). Delegation is high as teams are empowered to be innovative all directed at realizing the set goals. It results to cohesion among team members as they understand the scope of work and their role in realizing the set targets.

Free-rein style is when the staff is given full control of their tasks, and how they set their guideline. Necessary resources and advice are provided by their leaders when the need arises, otherwise, they don’t get involved (Philip, 2016). It can lead to Job satisfaction, but it can also be damaging if time management is not considered and if the members don’t have the skills and knowledge about their task.

The leader’s task involves coordinating people both internally and externally to assure the organizations goals are achieved. The management’s main task is to see that whatever is important for the staff is taken care of for the attainment of laid down objectives (Mejia, Balkin & Cardy, 2014). Situational leadership theory is also referred to as Hersey-Blanchard Situational Leadership Theory. Situational leadership theory asserts that there is no single leadership model that is best (Ansari, 2015).

The style of leadership to be adopted depends on the scenario at hand and the type of strategies and leadership qualities that best suits the task. This means that effective leaders are able to customize their style in relation to the scenario and examine the cues like nature of the team, type of work, cultural alienation, and other essential elements key in facilitating the work to be done well (Mejia, Balkin & Cardy, 2014). The leader therefore adapts a leadership style depending on the scenario at hand and various other factors that constitutes to accomplishment of laid down goals.

Hershey and Blanchard provide four key leadership styles (Northouse, 2010):

Telling (S1) – this leadership style involves the leader informing the staff on what to do while at the same time providing guidelines on how to do it. In multicultural teams, there are set guidelines that protect members against acts of prejudice and discrimination based on cultural alienation.

Selling (S2) – this leadership style involves more interaction between the leader and staff. In this case, the leader informs skills and ideas to the team members to adopt within operations and processes. In a multicultural team set-up, the leader inspires team members to accept diversity and the positive contexts brought about by having a diverse team.

Participating (S3) – this leadership style involves the leaders assigning tasks and providing the followers with the chance to come up with ideas and concepts on how to realize targets. The leader provides less direction and backs the followers to make decisions. In this case, the members in a multicultural team participate in coming up with guidelines that will ensure participation of all team members regardless of cultural alienation.

Delegating (S4) – this style of leadership involves the leader delegating authority to the followers and taking a hands-off approach. The leader is less involved as team members have the autonomy to make decisions and take responsibility of operations and processes. The team shapes the mode of interaction and ensures no alienation of team members on the basis of culture or background.

The essential element in leadership in a multicultural team set-up involves social influence, maximizing efforts of others towards achieving a common goal (Mejia, Balkin & Cardy, 2014). Telling (S1) leadership style provides a platform for teams for self-regulation which means controlling and re-directing attitudes and disruptive impulses while on-air. Self-regulation enables one to have control of his actions and judgments and always think before acting (Ansari, 2015). Application of this component is essential as it allows one to act out of expertise and intelligence rather than being driven by moods whereby one doesn’t have a clear stand on his mandate within the team (Ansari, 2015).

Conceptual Perspective of Multicultural Teams

Tuckman’s Model

An analysis of Tuckman`s model of team development enhances the understanding of the systems and importance of team work. Tuckman expounds on the process and stages of forming teams within organizations to be a united group working towards common goals (Tuckman, Bruce, 1965). The stages as explained by Tuckman helps teams become more effectively quickly and build a productive team. The progression of teams incorporates (Tuckman, 1965):

Stage 1, forming – this is where there is high dependence on the leadership for guidance. There is needed to first be told what is required in the specific activity so that team members can follow suit. The main elements explained in this phase include roles and responsibilities, team’s objectives and purpose;

Stage 2, storming – there are power struggles, cliques and factions as team members attempt to establish relations and clarity of purpose. While some team members focus on the goal of the activity, others try to guide team mates through it while others may not seem bothered by the team’s activity. These groupings are essential at this stage;

Stage 3, norming – consensus and agreement are the basics of this stage as team members understand clearly their role, responsibility and purpose. Unity and commitment are strong. There is clarity on the importance and work of teams. Members can work as a team in the activity;

Stage 4, performing – the team become aware of what it is doing, has shared vision, and forms structures and processes aimed at achieving the set common goal. There is shared vision, and this means that each individual guides the other within the team to achieve the common goal.

Scholtes theory encompassing successful team traits creates an understanding on essential systems necessary for teams to work together and accomplish the set targets. Scholtes attests the idea of “Total Quality Leadership” on management emphasizes on building excellence in all areas of the organization (Scholtes, Joiner & Streibel, 2014). This can only be achieved by allowing and encouraging all employees to contribute towards the organization through developing skills that enable them constantly to improve in all processes and operations through which work is accomplished. Employees through teams need to execute tasks with energy and efficiency and be excellent in the activities assigned to them (Scholtes, Joiner & Streibel, 2014). The relationships should reflect on commitment of all in improving processes and working together. These factors define what Scholtes assert as successful team traits.

Hofstede’s Concept

Hofstede (2003) engaged in a survey in about 50 countries where the results showed four common problems in four areas. The survey was done within IBM. The focus was on measuring and understanding cultural differences that impact on management of multinationals. Hofstede’s four dimensions are essential predictors of cultural concepts and differences.

Power Distance – power distance defines the hierarchical system. According to Hofstede (2003), the analysis measures the level of acceptance of authority of an employee towards the superiors. In scenarios where hierarchy is strong, respect towards superiors is higher and the relationships are closer. In areas where there is greater power distance, the management is centralized and adopts a pyramidal organizational structure. Within egalitarian world, employees have enhanced scope of actions. The management adopts a decentralized system with flat organizational structure. Every society focuses on attaining egalitarian management.

Individualism and Collectivism – it is important to note that culture is related to relationships between an individual to a team. A communitarian society limits a person’s individual freedom. An individualist society means that personal life time is more essential. Hofstede (2003) survey found out that African countries are more communitarians while countries such as U.S and UK are individualists. In a company context, a communitarian will emphasize on a social role and the need to feel wanted by the management. An individualist will form a link of interest with the management.

Male and Female – Hofstede (2005) uses this dimension to oppose masculinity and femininity. Values of success, performance and strength are masculine characteristics while values of humanitarianism and solidarity are feminine characteristics. In a masculine world, men assert their personality and in a feminine world, there is no sex distinction as both men and women live in harmony.

Uncertainty Avoidance – this dimension defines the level of uncertainty ensured by members of the society. Hofstede (2005) evaluates how individuals respond in difficult situations. Strong degree of uncertainty is evident in countries such as France, Portugal and Greece while the U.S, Denmark and African countries depict weaker control of uncertainty.

Trompenaars Concept

Trompenaars (1993) enhanced Hofstede’s research by conducting a survey across 50 countries in 30 different companies. His research identified seven key dimensions of culture (Trompenaars, 1993):

Universalism and Collectivism – Trompenaars (1993) concludes the ideas of Hofstede. It is important to understand whether a person thinks as a distinct person or one that belongs to a certain group. Trompenaars (1993) asserts that this dimension links religion to individualism/collectivism. In a management scenario, he asserts that individualists favor one person making decisions as communitarians favor collective decisions.

Particularism and Universalism –a universal society means that common standards and rules are essential – it depicts a rule-based society. In a particularistic society, standards and regulations are avoided as problems are managed on a case by case basis.

Diffuse and Specific Culture – the focus of this dimension of culture is on measuring the level of personal implication within a professional context. In this case, individuals belonging to a culture do no combine or mix their private life with professional life. In a diffuse culture, individuals mix their private life with that of their professional life.

Emotional and Neutral Relationships – the culture of an individual dictates how they expose their personal emotions and feelings at work. A neutral culture means that individuals do not express their emotions as such a move would jeopardize their business relationships – they have an objective and neutral attitude. Emotional culture means that such individuals express their emotions in their day to day work and thus incorporate a subjective attitude.

Ascription and Achievement –this dimension defines the social status of an individual. The social status in some cultures is acquired – achievement. In others it is normally attributed. In a society where culture is acquired, a person is recognized and rewarded on the basis of their knowledge and skills. The accomplishment of a person determines their social status. Is a setting where status is attributed, a person is recognized on the basis of graduate level, family status, and by gender. France tends to be strongly attributed while UK is acquired.

Synchronic and Sequential – time management is a key context in this dimension. Individuals emanating from a sequential culture normally have tight schedules which are key in completing their everyday tasks. Individuals from a synchronic culture adopt a flexible mode and completely different tasks within the same timelines.

Internal and External Control – Trompenaars (1993) last dimension examines the link between individuals the the environment they live in. internal control is a culture that influences the environment while external control harmonizes with the environment. Trompenaars (1993) research provides an example where individuals from the Asian culture live in harmony with their environment and exercise no control over it.

Leadership Processes

Understanding cultural


Depicting Cultural relativism

Managing personnel


Organizational culture/Professional culture




Managing conflicts









Figure 1. A Conceptual Model of Management of Multicultural Teams

Managing Team Conflicts

Conflict is a major challenge which faces teams. Depending on the nature of the conflict, it should be identified, resolved and managed in order to enhance proper working environment between team members. Unresolved conflicts in an organization arising from cultural diversity result to poor productivity of the organization output. Cultural conflict in a team is brought by lack of communication between members and also letting emotion to drive into decision making. Conflict needs to be managed and controlled in order to enhance the productivity of a team. Conflict is a very major vice in many teams. Conflict resolution processes should be properly managed in order to enhance unity among team members. There are various ways in which conflicts can be managed in teams:

Defining acceptable behavior- acceptable behavior should be defined in a positive perspective in order to avoid conflicts. There is need to create a framework for making decisions using a published delegation of authority system, encouraging useful business practices in collaboration, team spirit, talent management and leadership development (Anderson, Kuehn, & McKinney, 2006).

Hit Conflict Head-on: While the conflict can be prevented, it has been discovered that conflict resolution is conflict prevention. By seeking out areas of potential conflict and intervening, this prevents the conflict from happening. If a conflict does not minimize its severity should be minimized by dealing with it quickly. Time spent identifying and understanding possible natural tensions help in avoiding unnecessary conflict (Anderson, Kuehn, & McKinney, 2006).

View Conflict as Opportunity: every conflict should be is the potential for a great learning opportunity. Where there is a disagreement there is a possible potential growth for development (Cloke, Ken & Goldsmith, 2011).

Operate with a strategic plan: the presence of a strategic plan in a team helps to express goals, objectives and outcomes. This can be a great value in reducing the potential for conflict over the organization’s mission, priorities, and choices.

Clarifying roles and responsibilities: team leader must specify the roles and responsibilities of individual members within the team with a reflection on the skills and expertise of each member. Occasional team orientation is very useful since it can inform the members of what is expected of them that is duties and responsibilities (Anderson, Kuehn, & McKinney, 2006).

Learn about conflict resolution processes: team leaders and members can benefit greatly by learning the conflict resolution and negotiation processes before a conflict occurs (Cloke, Ken & Goldsmith, 2011). Some understanding will help teams determine and handle a situation, including when external assistance might help. Conflict resolution is a very important core value for team leaders.

Establish a code of conduct for teams: a code of conduct for should be developed which sets standards and rules for the relationship with one another (Anderson, Kuehn, & McKinney, 2006). This help in ensuring there is no conflict among the members.

Encourage performance evaluation: formal evaluation processes is important for direct communication which can improve the working relationships. Regular evaluation helps to avoid staff conflicts.

Implement a grievance procedure: teams should have a formal written internal complaint procedure that is familiar to everyone (Anderson, Kuehn, & McKinney, 2006). This helps the decision makers involved in resolving a dispute.

Management Approach to Multicultural Teams

Organizations intending to broaden their scope effectively across borders are facing many business management issues in respect to business culture, business customs and business social situations. The key challenges are being able to come up with practices that balance global competitiveness, multicultural flexibility and building a global learning capability. Achieving such a balance requires organizations to develop cultural sensitivity to leverage and manage learning new skills applied by various countries (Meyer & Erin, 2014). This means that multicultural teams in organizations create management dilemmas. Successful managers and teams can adopt four strategies for effective management of multicultural teams.

Adaptation – acknowledging that there are cultural gaps openly and forging ways of working around them. In one instance, a team adapts to the attitudes or practices without necessarily making changes to the team’s assignments or membership. Adaptation becomes practical in situations where team members are eager and willing to name and acknowledge their cultural difference and ready to assume responsibility and concern of how to deal and live with them (Gaudes, Bogart, Marsh & Robinson, 2015). Adaptation is normally the best applicable approach to the problem of culture alienation as it essentially involves less input and time from the management in execution as compared to other strategies. The team members take the center stage in solving the problem as their participation process enhances learning (Aldag and Kuzuhara, 2015). Such a mindset enables team members to be more creating in protecting their substantive differences while at the same time granting the cultural alienation of others. Adaptation approach in culture helps one understand how others perceive one’s way of behavior or doing things and through it a person can tell if people dislike or like one’s culture. It also helps one to relate better with others because a person knows what other thoughts revolve around.

Structural Intervention – this approach involves changing the shape and context of the team. Structural intervention encompasses deliberate reassignment or reorganization that is designed to mitigate interpersonal resistance or remove a source of friction or conflict within the multicultural teams. According to an analysis by Patrick and Kumar (2012), structural intervention is effective in scenarios where subgroups delineate the team. For instance, headquarters and national subsidiaries or in cases where team members have a proud or defensive attitude, feel threatened, or cling to the negative stereotypes as depicted within a multicultural setting. The teams can be meeting face to face regularly in their line of duty as the management sets values and standards that the team can adopt in directing and evaluating its progress. In addition, companies can hire consultants who don’t represent the internal hierarchical threat, and this enhances participation of team members. Structural interventions can also encompass creating smaller work groups that have mixed cultures and corporate identities and this helps to provide information that may not be forthcoming from initial set-up of teams (Aldag and Kuzuhara, 2015).

Managerial Intervention – this approach involves setting norms earlier enough when constituting the team and seeking the services of higher-level manager. Team members can make use of managerial intervention in solving problems effectively. Setting the norms helps team members understand what is expected of them, the parameters for working and the policies essential to safeguard team cohesion (Aldag and Kuzuhara, 2015). The culture created by managers in the initial stage sets the pace within which the rules of engagement and problem solving is based on. Management skills are essential in understanding, developing and managing personnel and their skills and general resources especially in a multicultural context. Managerial intervention means that managers enhance change and input and regularly seek for feedback from others. The art of listening in a multicultural set-up is a key skill in leading people and knowing how to manage their diverse skills and intellectuals. Managers understand that incorporating all stakeholders involved helps to make a well-informed decision that reflects on the goals and objectives of the company while ensuring multicultural teams have operate in a cohesive and unified way.

Exit – this approach involves removing a member from the team when all options have failed to work (Meyer & Erin, 2012). The idea is to save the company’s vision and mission and ensuring team members work or the accomplishment of organizations goals. However, leaving the team ought to be an infrequent approach to managing multicultural teams. This is since companies ought to try as much as possible to create team spirit and team cohesion for the accomplishment of common goals. Team cohesion assures that there is a conducive environment within which team members can be able to contribute for the accomplishment of a common goal. This means that in cases where team cohesion is not realized then the organizations goals are not achieved. When a person is unable to cope with the team culture as incorporated in a company through diversity then exit remains as the only workable solution. Exit in this case can be voluntary or a formal request for exit from the management. It’s vital to note that exit approach is implemented where emotions are running high a lot of friction has occurred to such an extent it becomes hard to salvage the scenario (Meyer & Erin, 2012).


Leaders provide support and common vision in forming positive relationships among teams to build a cohesive group. This fosters common vision, informal leader occurrence and the overall collaboration of whole group members. Organizations should provide coaching and training to allow team leaders understand the elements of positive leader-member exchange relations and how they are built through ongoing interactions. By building positive relationships with the members, teams can build and foster an understanding of member’s strength, opportunities, and interests for development. Such information is then applied by formal leaders to offer informal leadership opportunities to the team members based on unique knowledge, interests, abilities and skills. This may involve assigning project roles or even share team members with specific task forces. Through this option, formal leaders now support the team members in the informal leadership roles through providing access to resources and information and options for communicating and meeting objectives with other team members. When team leaders arise, their influence on the team enhances as the team performance is improved. Team performance can be regarded as a developing construct that emanates from the behaviors and attributes of individuals. It is amplified through their interactions and shows as a collective and high-level phenomenon. Team effectiveness grows as leadership is shared among team members. Effectiveness is enhanced further as more team members incorporate and practice informal leadership roles.


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