Sub-theme 31: Leveraging Cultural Dynamics in Organizations

Sylvie Chevrier, Université de Paris-Est Marne la Vallée, France
Christoph Barmeyer, University of Passau, Germany
Jean-Pierre Dupuis, HEC Montréal, Canada

Call for Papers

Cultural diversity is the rule in many organizations and no longer the exception. A variety of organizational situations is concerned with cultural diversity: teams of migrant workers, cooperation at distance, virtual international teams, expatriates managing a local workforce, transferring management practices across countries, off-shore sub-contracting, etc. Professional life has become immeasurably more complicated by the encounter with the unfamiliar and dissimilar worldviews, values and practices.

The spreading of cultural diversity in organizations has many implications:

  • Settling agreements to achieve managerial goals and interacting effectively between people having different worldviews
  • Building or capitalizing on common ground to ease interactions
  • Developing a climate of trust in which everyone feels acknowledged
  • Managing tensions resulting from diverging views
  • Drawing upon these different views in a constructive manner
  • Choosing appropriate work language(s)
  • Enhancing not a common, but a widely accepted hybrid organizational culture

While at the personal level culturally complex encounters can be challenging and painful due to the differences in values, norms, identities and meaning embodied in actors from different cultural backgrounds, they can also be enriching, and contribute to professional and personal development. Similarly, at the organizational level, whereas the intercultural interface can lead to 'frictional loss', the view is emerging that cultural diversity can be leveraged to achieve creativity and synergy (Adler, 2008; Stahl et al., 2010).

The cultural composition alone does not determine the outcome of cross-cultural work because the protagonists are embedded in organizational contexts, which play a major role in shaping the dynamics. Reciprocally, the understanding of the organizational dynamics cannot dispose of the different cultural worldviews through which actors give meaning to social situations (d'Iribarne, 2009). Cultural references and organizational contexts have to be articulated to understand what is going on when working across cultures.

This sub-theme aims to investigate dynamic intercultural interactions in organizations. We invite scholars to deepen our knowledge on the articulation of cultures and organizational contexts and to address the following questions:

  • How to unravel the complexity of cross-cultural situations (including the interplay of multiple cultures related to professional, organizational, regional, national communities) and the influence of these cultures on power relations, marginalization and identities?
  • How do organizations manage to make the most of cultural differences? How is common hybrid ground built?
  • How can managers overcome cultural differences and conflicts and turn them into creative, synergistic solutions?
  • How can divergent resourceful competencies be combined?
  • What are the processes of conflict resolution in cross-cultural organizations?
  • What are the consequences of the choice of multiple languages or a lingua franca?

The sub-theme builds on and extends the discussion on intercultural management with new analyses, and a focus on a contextualized approach to the relationship between culture, organization and management. It is concerned with situations in which cultural differences are not merely to be overcome but can be leveraged to create a new culture, or interculture which can be considered as a resource for the organization.

Contributions employing multidisciplinary approaches and relying on insights from multiple cultural backgrounds (Primecz et al., 2011) are encouraged. Qualitative research and case studies (Piekkari & Welch, 2011) are welcome, as well as conceptual contributions.



Adler, Nancy J. (2008): International Dimensions of Organizational Behavior, Fifth Edition. Mason, OH: Thomson Learning.
D'Iribarne, Philippe (2009): 'National cultures and organizations in search of a theory: an interpretative approach.' International Journal of Cross-Cultural Management, 9 (3), 309–321.
Piekkari, Rebecca & Catherine Welch (2011): Rethinking the Case Study in International Business and Management Research. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing.
Primecz, Henriette, Laurence Romani & Sonja Sackmann (2011): Cross-Cultural Management in Practice: Culture and Negotiated Meanings. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing.
Stahl, Günter, Kristiina Mäleka, Lena Zander & Martha L. Maznevski (2010): 'A look at the bright side of multicultural team diversity.' Scandinavian Journal of Management, 26, 439–447.


Sylvie Chevrier is Professor of Management at Université de Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée, France. Her main research interests focus on the management of cross-cultural teams. She has published several articles and books on cross-cultural management, among others "Le management des équipes interculturelles" (PUF, 2000) and "Management interculturel" (PUF, 2010).
Christoph Barmeyer is Professor for Intercultural Communication at the University of Passau, Germany, and Affiliated Professor of the Research Center HuManiS, Ecole de Management Strasbourg, University of Strasbourg, France. His research interest is in Intercultural Management, Organisational Culture and Transfer as well as International Human Resource Management. He is author and co-author of articles and books as "Management interculturel et styles d'apprentissage" (PUL, 2007) and "Multinational Enterprises and Innovation: Regional Learning in Networks" (Routledge, 2012).
Jean-Pierre Dupuis has been Professor of the Sociology and Anthropology of Organisations at the HEC Montréal since 1990. In that time he has devoted several years of research to cross-cultural management in firms in Canada, particularly in Montréal, and in France. He has published many articles and four books including "Sociologie de l'entreprise" (2007) and "Gestion en contexte interculturel" (2008).