Reflection on Working in a Multicultural Group

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The group was generally unprepared and inexperienced in working in a multicultural group, especially in the context of five different cultures. This variety of cultures created a difficult barrier to overcome in the start of the project of IPRIC 2018. To become efficient as a team in the group setting both in work and cooperation there was a need for the group to get to know each other and learn about the different cultures represented in the group. The multicultural seminars provided us with the tools and basic understanding needed to overcome the difficulties arising from our varied cultures.

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One of the main issues we encountered was the language barrier. The different proficiency in English made it difficult for parts of the group to both understand other members and tasks and to express themselves with ideas and opinions. This made it necessary for us to create a context and team setting that allows group members space and time to explain or ask questions. Since we encountered this problem early on it gave us plenty of time to work with it and learn new ways to communicate with each other. This gave us, in the end, an increased ability in communication in the group. Both with body language but also with the understanding of the needs of each other for expressing ourselves. The need to develop the fluent knowledge on a foreign language is deemed a very important criteria in today’s world. The abolition of language barrier can result initiate a relationship being trustworthy.

At first, we encountered difficulties because misunderstandings would arise both because of our language barriers and because of our different points of views and different educational backgrounds. The communication issues as mentioned before was encountered early on and therefore were dealt with. However, the different points of view and educational backgrounds remained an issue for longer because it was more ingrained in our habits and was harder to overcome than the language barrier. By creating our own subculture and workflow where we allowed for explanations and motivations for our points of view through discussions and insight in that you are not always right or wrong, but a combination was the more correct understanding.

This eventually evolved into a strength of the group instead where it allowed for deeper and more detailed understanding of the task at hand and our workflow. By understanding the group members different points of view we were able to use the strengths of each one and get more insight into the weaknesses of our own backgrounds. According to the study as all the group members work together over a period, toward a common goal, they will synchronize their efforts “unaware of the dynamics at play”. They will get to know each other and even though there are many arguments and disagreements, they learn more about each other. Part of understanding the other group members backgrounds and workflows came to the issue of finding a common way to work for the team. Since we all have different experience both from working in the industry and from previous group works. For example, two of our group members have extensive experience from working in two different fields of industry. This experience provided a good basis for our team to work from and create our own common workflow. After this workflow was established we were able to be both efficient in work but also to become more relational and get a better team spirit. Multicultural competence helps developing the intercultural abilities as well as have many solutions to the situation that arise. This leads to team members having a mutual respect towards each other and the work that they do.

To summarize we faced a lot of cultural challenges but also challenges in personalities. But since we faced these issues early on it gave us time to confront them and discuss them early on. We also think that our individual open-mindedness gave us a good foundation to overcome the cultural differences. And be able to become an efficient and respectful team.

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