“But isn’t it true that sometimes intercultural differences are not the root cause of problems in collaboration?”
Yes, it’s true that cultural differences are not always the root cause of problems. Often it is the fight over power and influence. Often it is simply personality differences. And often it is just a difference of opinions on the subject matter.
However, if there are differences between cultures, for example between Americans and Germans, and if the differences are in foundational areas, such as communication or decision making or process philosophies, then those differences will always be a factor, always be in play, in one form or another, to one degree or another.
Take for example colleagues, Americans and Germans, working on how best to harmonize two processes. Depending on the processes it could be a real battle about power and influence. Depending on the colleagues involved it might be that they don’t yet feel comfortable working together. Depending on the subject matter it could be that they have legitimate differences of opinion.
At play in any and all of those situations is the fact that the two cultures, meaning the two colleagues, communicate differently, present their cases differently, debate differently, and perhaps understand the role of processes differently.
For these reasons I think it is well worth it for colleagues to have an understanding of what the cultural differences are, and how they might influence/impact their collaboration.
These situations are complex. Seldom is there one root cause. Life is complicated. Cross-border collaboration is complicated. Good ! Let’s master that complexity.