Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Multicultural teams are becoming increasingly common in international organizations. These teams offer great potential for high performance, but the cultural diversity presents barriers to productive interaction, and multicultural teams tend to perform worse than their homogenous counterparts. The goals of this research were to develop an understanding of effective interaction and performance in multicultural groups, and to investigate whether groups could be trained to improve their ability to interact productively.;A model of multicultural group performance was developed, which emphasizes the importance of effective communication and explicit agreement on norms for interaction, both requiring understanding of group members' cultural orientations. Measures were developed and pretested for cultural orientations (based on Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck, 1961), communication preconditions (based on Blakar, 1985), synergistic integration processes, and group outcomes (based on Hackman, 1987). Propositions derived from the model were tested in a quasi-experiment, in which 73 groups of four to six people worked together to complete an in-basket simulation based on a real-life complex international management situation. Measures of cultural orientations and individual preconditions were collected prior to the group's interaction, and group-level variables were measured after the interaction. Group's in-basket responses were compared with an expert solution to obtain a measure of output quality. Half of the groups participated in a twelve-hour training intervention prior to completing the task, designed to increase their ability to integrate culturally diverse perspectives.;Regression and multivariate analysis of variance were used to test the hypotheses. Overall support was found for the conceptual model, and training had a positive effect on process and outcome variables. It was concluded that the model developed provides a good understanding of integration processes in multicultural groups and, together with previous related research, provides a good understanding of performance in these teams. The training results offer encouragement to managers that barriers to integration in multicultural teams can be overcome.



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