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The 24th EGOS Colloquium 2008  

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Postdoctoral pre-colloquium workshop

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Sub-theme 17:

Exploring the Cultural Mosaic: Competences and Processes in Intercultural Settings



Sylvie Chevrier
Université de Marne-la-Vallée (France)

Yih-teen Lee
IESE Business School (Spain)

Luciara Nardon
Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School (Belgium)

Susan Schneider
HEC University of Geneva (Switzerland)

Call for papers

Globalization and the resulting multicultural environment around and within organizations challenge individuals and organizations to adapt, change, and reinvent themselves. On one hand, multiculturalism may result in individual upsets and bring considerable nuisances to organizations. On the other hand, the diversity of worldviews and logics of action made available through multiculturalism can upset old assumptions and habits generating positive renewal to both individuals and organizations.

Management scholars have identified several complementary concepts dealing with individual competences required to navigate a global and/or multicultural environment. For instance, managers are advised to expand their cultural intelligence (Earley & Ang, 2003, Thomas & Inkson, 2004), cultivate a global mindset (e.g. Maznevski & Lane, 2003), and develop intercultural competence (Friedman & Berthoin Antal, 2005). Most of the literature focuses on individual competences that are likely to facilitate manager's ability to understand and adapt to other cultures. While a long list of characteristics distinguishes the “competent” from the 'incompetent' in dealing with multicultural forces, less is known about the development of these competences, and the role of organizations in developing them.

In contrast, researchers have also acknowledged that rather than being a nuisance, intercultural encounters can bring important benefits. If culture is a toolkit of symbols, stories, rituals, and world-views which people may use to solve problems (Swidler, 1986), then exposure to other cultures can be seen as a way to acquire additional tools and enhance one's ability to deal with problems. Furthermore, by confronting different perceptions, interpretations, behaviors, and practices originating from a multicultural context, individuals and organizations may develop higher awareness about their own assumptions and behaviors, which can potentially lead to change and renewal.

This sub-theme explores individual and organizational competences required to benefit from the upsetting forces of multiculturalism – both to prevent nuisances and to drive positive change. To this end, we would like to solicit papers addressing processes and practices to develop competences required to deal with multiculturalism – individual competences that facilitate successful intercultural or multicultural interactions and organizational competences that facilitate dealing with a multicultural workforce and/or a multicultural environment. Conceptual and empirical papers may address questions such as the following:

  • What are the nature, content, and dimensions of individual inter/multi-cultural competences (e.g. personality traits, mindsets, motivation, behavioral skills)?
  • Are cultural competences universal? Can one develop a set of cultural competences that will allow him/her to navigate any cultural settings?
  • How do individuals develop their inter/multi-cultural competences? How can organizations and academic institutions develop inter/multi-cultural competences in its workforce and students?
  • Which processes and mechanisms individuals and organizations may use to 'upset' old routines and reset mindsets so as to be culturally flexible and competent in various cultural settings?
  • What is the role of cultural identity in facilitating or hindering the development of intercultural competences?
  • What are the nature, content, and dimension of organizational level competences? Which concrete organizational processes or practices help upset old routines, create broader perspectives, and overcome upsetting forces of multiculturalism?
  • How does power influences the development and exercise of inter/multi cultural competences? To which extent does power or domination contribute to the creation of upsetting feelings?

We encourage papers focusing on the processes used by individuals, groups of individuals, organizations, or groups of organizations, to benefit from upsetting forces originating from multiculturalism in several contexts, including expatriation, management of a multicultural workforce, inter-organizational collaborations, and the use of multicultural teams. Works employing multidisciplinary approaches, novel research strategies, and/or relying on insights from multiple cultural backgrounds are particularly encouraged.

Key readings

Earley, P.C. & S. Ang (2003): Cultural Intelligence: An Analysis of Individual Interactions across Cultures. Palo Alto, CA : Stanford University Press.

Friedman, V.J. & A. Berthoin Antal (2005): Negotiating Reality: A Theory of Action Approach to Intercultural Competence. Management Learning, 36: 69-86.

Maznevski, M.L. & H.W. Lane (2003): Shaping the Global Mindset: Designing Educational Experiences for Effective Global Thinking in Action. Boyacigiller, Goodman and Phillips (eds.): Crossing Cultures: Insights from Master Teachers. London: Routledge, pp. 171-184.

Swidler, A. (1986): Culture in Action: Symbols and Strategies. American Sociological Review, 51: 273-286.

Thomas, D.C. & K. Inkson (2004): Cultural Intelligence: People Skills for Global Business. San Francisco: Berret-Koehler.

About the convenors

Sylvie Chevrier is assistant professor at Université de Marne la Vallée (France). She obtained a PhD in management from the University of Quebec at Montreal (Canada) and her main research interests focus on the management of cross-cultural teams.

Yih-teen Lee is assistant professor at IESE Business School, University of Navarra (Spain). He obtained his PhD from HEC, University of Lausanne (Switzerland). His recent research topics include cross-cultural person-environment fit, intercultural competences, work design and well-being, and performance determinants of auditors.

Luciara Nardon is assistant professor at the Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School (Belgium). She holds a PhD from the University of Oregon (USA) and her current research interests include intercultural collaborations, conceptions of culture, and culture influences on technology development.

Susan Schneider is Professor of Human Resource Management at HEC University of Geneva (Switzerland) and visiting professor at INSEAD (France). Her research activities focus on intercultural management, diversity and social responsibility.