Third Explanation

There are differences between cultures. The differences are in foundational areas. The differences influence cross-border collaboration.

When colleagues in multinational teams experience problems in their collaboration they typically assume that the cause is either lack of ability or lack of willingness. Or both. On the part of the other colleagues.

Seldom do colleagues consider a third explanation. Namely that their colleagues from the other countries are equally capable and equally willing to work together. But that they simply have a different approach to how the work is done.

We should not be surprised. That this third explanation is not considered. Few global companies address the influence of culture on cross-border collaboration. And if they were to do so, they would find little competent support.

The reality in global companies is that colleagues from different national cultures are thrown together and told, explicitly or implicitly: “You all speak English. You’re all professionals. Begin collaborating. Produce results.”

This reality, this expectation, is neither fair nor good for business. Colleagues collaborating in complex multinational environments are left to fend for themselves. Not good.

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