Why is intercultural management important

Why intercultural competence is so important


When Daimler-Chrysler sends a management team to Shanghai or SAP develops software in India, it is not only an act of strength in terms of personnel, but also an intercultural one. Global teams from sales and management must work closely together, and a sure instinct in leadership is important.

Flexible, interculturally trained and open to change. This is probably the ideal requirement profile for managers with intercultural competence who have to work together successfully in an international team in global teams in their own country or sent from their company remotely. The same applies to global joint ventures, in which two management and leadership cultures have to grow together in a new common business area.

"The development of intercultural competence requires the willingness to deal with foreign and unfamiliar systems of cultural orientation based on a basic attitude of cultural appreciation", says Alexander Thomas, author of the book "Intercultural Action Competence and its Development" Practice? In Thomas' view, intercultural competence is primarily the result of a targeted learning and development process. It arises from good preparation for the upcoming management tasks and from working with international colleagues, but also from practical experience Approaching people from other cultures and cooperating with them also shows in the ability to perceive and respect cultural conditions and influencing factors in oneself and other people and to use them productively in the work process, Thomas knows.

Curiosity about the strange

One of the most common hurdles for employees involved in intercultural projects are, above all, different expectations regarding the action plans or the behavior of the other. The foreign partner is sometimes unexpectedly experienced in a way that initially irritates. Often the new experiences with colleagues from global teams are constantly related to the situation in their own country, which can increase the differences. Book author Thomas draws attention to some key competencies such as

  • Appreciation of the stranger,
  • Receptivity and curiosity on foreign things,
  • the willingness to understand one's own cultural and foreign cultural orientation system to reflect and
  • the ability to move from the stranger into a possibly new one To learn organizational culture.

The advantages of multicultural teams

One challenge is the globally controlled project management across national borders. This often involves newly assembled project teams (or groups) that consist of members from different cultures and that work together for a limited time on a complex task, at one location or purely virtually. Marion Keup describes what is important in a special "International Project Management". It makes it clear that the risks are greater, the less experience everyone involved has with international project work. The advantages of multicultural teams over homogeneous groups, namely using synergy effects through culture-specific strengths and skills and intercultural learning, only worked if this special type of cooperation was consciously designed and clearly managed. Immersing yourself in foreign work and team cultures in a different work process is always a tightrope walk and certainly an adventure - but perhaps one of the most exciting.