This essay aims to discuss challenges, which international teams have to face. Despite the fact that problems of national or single culture team are also part of the difficulties international teams have to face, it should be focused on the international context. This implies analysis of internal team problems because of team members out of different culture-areas as well as external factors, which have impacts on an international team. In further consequence strategies should be developed to resolve upcoming problems and requirements to accomplish the team‘s aim should be declared.
Introduction The first decade of the 21st century could be characterized by one iridescent term: ‘globalization‘. This term signifies the development of the world’s society as well as the rethinking in the economy. Human beings have started establishing networks and collaborations around the globe. In our daily life this is shown by the increasing use of the World Wide Web as well as social networks like Facebook, Studivz or Twitter. These technologies enable people all over the world to be connected and informed without wasting too much effort.
However, we have to say that during the 90th and 20th century the world‘s economy put a wrong complexion on the aforementioned globalization. Transnational corporations have outsourced parts of their business processes into low-wage countries, exploited commodities of the third world and finally benefited from child labour. Even though these facts haven’t changed, some ‘global players‘ also use ethically correct ways to benefit from globalization. In terms of shaping the best infrastructure, companies, which source out their business process, even have started to engage local society-experts for developing business in a foreign country.
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Especially in China it is essential to understand local society and business standards for a functioning integration in the economic cycle. Many people wonder why this is important for the success of a company. Our thesis is very easy: If we don’t know and understand our environment, our customers and especially the people we are working with, we won’t be successful in the field we are working in. Upcoming questions concerning this statement will possibly be: What are possible problems of having a mixture of people coming together from all over the world?
How could they act efficiently and successfully as an ‘international team‘ and finally what are the difficulties for a team acting in a global environment? The aims of this paper are to highlight the challenges that international teams face as well as the strategies that can be used to overcome these challenges. In the last chapter of this paper we try to give a short overview concerning the complexity of an international environment. Terms and Explanations Before we start with the main part of this essay we have to define several terms which are frequently mentioned.
We see this as a requirement for understanding the coherence of the discussed topics. In addition the distinctions between various terms should convey a sense of what we want to figure out. In some way we try do demonstrate differences between an international context and a single culture context. Team We start with the paper’s headline, which is called ‘International Teams‘. According to the authors Browaeys and Price teams are “a small number of people who work together for a common purpose and hold themselves collectively responsible for what they do” (Browaeys & Price, p.286, 2008).
Another definition for the word team would be: “A group of people with a full set of complementary skills required to complete a task, job, or project” (http://www. businessdictionary. com/definition/team. html 14. 01. 2012). Accordingly we can conclude hat a team is a group of human beings who all bring their competences together and try to achieve the best result for a task. Definition of Management One of the ‘vogue words‘ of the 21st century is definitely the word ‘Management‘. In our opinion it is one of the most overused terms in the western economy.
However, a manager plays an important role in the context of teams. But what is the exact meaning of the term management? According to the authors Harold Koontz and Heinz Weihrich management is “the process of designing and maintaining an environment in which individuals working together in groups, efficiently accomplish selected aims“ (Koontz & Weihrich, p. 5, 2007). The author R. Jayaprakash Reddy supports this thesis “though there are many definitions given by scholars and authors…” because in his eyes it is the most suitable definition especially for the commercial world (Reddy, p.3, 2004).
Koontz and Heinz go into dtail concerning their theory in defining 3 points through which Management could be explained best. From their point of view managers are people who carry out ‘managerial‘ functions like planning, organizing, staffing, leading and controlling. Furthermore the term Management fits without considering an institution`s size, purpose or branch. Last but not least the term applies to all kinds of managers, regardless whether it is a facility manager or a general manager (Koontz et al. , p. 5, 2007).
The famous US engineer Frederick Winslow Taylor could also be quoted: “Management is the art of knowing what you want to do and seeing that it is done in the best and cheapest way” (Taylor, 1911). This definition summarizes the well-known management theory of scientific management or also called ‘Taylorsim‘ in one sentence. The theory has the objective of improving efficiency and productivity. The aforementioned definitions show that it is not easy to find one common definition of the term management. It depends on the context and situation in which it is used.
However we can conclude that management has something to do with organizing one‘s environment and guiding/leading people so that requirements for successful work consist. Culture An essential term we should clarify when discussing international teams is ‘Culture‘. It is very difficult to define culture with few words. Even in dictionaries and lexicons the statements regarding the word culture differ. Furthermore there are multiple elements like geographical location, race, religion, etc. which have to be included to construct a definition of culture.
Brooks Peterson writes in the book ‘Cultural Intelligence‘ that: „directions for defining culture seem limitless, and perfectly correct definitions of culture can be so varied that it’s no wonder people can be at a loss to articulate just what culture is…“ (Peterson, p. 17, 2004). Despite this attitude Peterson tried to formulate an acceptable definition in saying: „Culture is the relatively stable set of inner values and beliefs generally held by groups of people in countries or regions and the noticeable impact that those values and beliefs have on the people`s outward behaviours and environment“ (Peterson, p.17, 2004).
Out of the quotes mentioned before we can conclude that culture is very difficult to define. However, it has somethinge to do with values, beliefs and also behaviours. The author Simon Sinek tells us in one of his presentations: „If You Don’t Understand People, You Don’t Understand Business“ of the phenomenon that people who go on holiday far away from home tend to meet other people who originally come from the same home country. They immediately feel familiar with each other and often become friends. In Sineks opinion this happens because human beings are willing to collaborate with similarly wired people.
The demand of human beings to find a like-minded person with a basic understanding of their values and beliefs is very strong. This is how the aforementioned phenomenon could be explained best. To put it in a nutshell we createg the thesis that there is an enormous number of elements which have to be considered if we want to come up with definition of culture and as a result of that it brings us to the conclusion that the term culture should only be defined if it is mentioned in a given context. However there is a strong significance that people’s values and believes build the foundation of cultural thinking.
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