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MULTI-CULTURAL TEAMS AS SOURCES FOR CREATIVITY AND INNOVATION: THE ROLE OF CULTURAL DIVERSITY ON TEAM PERFORMANCE

Ricarda Bouncken (), Alexander Brem () and Sascha Kraus ()
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Ricarda Bouncken: Chair of Strategic Management and Organization, University of Bayreuth, Prieser Str. 2, 95440 Bayreuth, Germany
Sascha Kraus: Institute of Entrepreneurship, Fürst-Franz-Josef-Strasse, 9490 Vaduz, Liechtenstein

International Journal of Innovation Management (ijim), 2016, vol. 20, issue 01, 1-34

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 semi-structured 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.

Keywords: Multi-cultural; creativity; innovation; cultural diversity; team performance (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2016
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DOI: 10.1142/S1363919616500122

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