Working with Others

Cultural Dimensions that Affect Teamwork

Royal Road’s University classrooms are becoming culturally diverse, giving rise to new challenges and rewards for your learning in teams. Students from different cultures differ in their orientation to communication styles, time, power distance, collectivism and individualism, and task vs. relationship focus. These differences can result in conflict, and can also support success if facilitated well. In other words, when conflicts arise in teamwork, the emphasis is on creating shared understanding and team norms. Instead of a "your way or my way" mentality for adaption, RRU faculty and students must jointly invent “our way”.

There are underlying cultural differences that contribute to the challenges in coming to a shared meaning on culturally diverse teams. With an awareness of these cultural dimensions, students can better navigate cultural differences on teams. Scholars highlight several diversity variables that impact teams, including:

  • direct vs. indirect communication
  • polychromic vs. monochronic
  • large vs. small power distance
  • individualistic vs. collectivist orientation
  • confrontation vs. harmonious conflict style
  • task vs. relationship orientation.

Not sure what these terms mean? Read on, for a deeper dive and explanation!