Cultural theory training for multicultural teams: a “clumsy” solution for a “wicked problem”

This dissertation, based on social anthropology, examined the impact of raising awareness of the participants’ default culture to see if this knowledge impacts the way in which they interact with their team. This was done by using an application of Mary Douglas’ (1970, 1978, 1999, 2005b, 2005a) and Thompson Ellis and Wildavsky’s (1990) Cultural Theory to measure the changes in the multicultural team member’s preferences for their non-preferred ways of making decisions and their self-reported responses about the levels of conflict and safety on their team. This qualitative research uses a mixed qualitative quasi-experimental study that uses a pre-test and posttest design with a control group overall research design. It evaluated whether or not a teamwork-training program, which, teaches differing decision-making processes, and argumentation logic can stretch a multicultural team member’s tolerance for rival regimes and lower the level of destructive conflict on the team. The researcher conducted two stages of fieldwork in Cambodia and Myanmar. In the first stage, she administered the pretest instruments and facilitated three multicultural team-building workshops in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, Cambodia, and Yangon, Myanmar to 80 participants from 22 countries. During these workshops, she utilized participant observation and unstructured interviews. The second stage carried out 6-8 weeks after the first, involved 31 semi-structured interviews and administering the posttest instruments to 56 multicultural team members in seven teams. This study also uses a critical incident survey to investigate cultural bias. The findings show that event based, multicultural teambuilding training did not have a significant effect on a team’s level of stress or conflict. However, it did have a positive effect on the levels of psychological security in teams that did not know each other well. In addition, the treatment teams show changes in their perception of and preferences for how their team works, indicating increased levels of tolerance for each. This dissertation then discusses the impact of cultural bias on training events. It concludes with an overview of how viewing multicultural training as ‘Wicked Problem” can suggest ways in which team leaders can build “Clumsy” training solutions.
xxi, 390 pages
Table of Contents:
Abstract -- Dedication -- Acknowledgements -- Table of Contents -- List of Tables -- List of Figures -- List of Abbreviations -- Part I Introduction, Problem and Methodology -- Chapter 1 Overview and Introduction -- Chapter 2 Understanding Multicultural Teams and Difference -- Chapter 3 Multicultural Teams: Research Design and Methodology -- Part II Research Implementation and Results -- Chapter 4 An Experiment in Multicultural Team Training: A Description of the Participants and Experiment Setting -- Chapter 5 Intragroup Qualitative Analysis: Behavioral Learning Outcomes -- Chapter 6 Intragroup Quantitative Analysis: Measuring Perceptions: Results and Analysis of Grid-Group Survey -- Chapter 7 Intragroup Quantitative Analysis: Measuring Preferences and Tolerance: AGAPE Int’l Vignette Survey Results and Analysis -- Chapter 8 Intragroup Quantitative Analysis: Measuring Stress, Conflict and Safety in Multicultural Teams -- Part III Implications of Research -- Chapter 9 Cultural Tensions in Treatment Teams -- Chapter 10 Way of (Workshop) Life: Implications for Multicultural Teamwork Training -- Chapter 11 Learning Tolerance: Putting it All Together -- Chapter 12 Reflections, Implications and a Clumsy Way Forward? -- Appendix A Socio-demographic Information for each Team -- Appendix B Stress, Conflict, and Safety Data -- Appendix C Grid-Group Data -- Appendix D AGAPE Int’l Vignette Survey Data -- Appendix E Stress, Conflict, and Safety Data and Analysis -- Appendix F Multicultural Teams Survey Instruments English Version -- Appendix G Multicultural Teams Survey Instruments Khmer Version -- Appendix H Multicultural Teams Survey Instruments Lao Version -- Appendix I Multicultural Teams Survey Instruments Thai Version -- Appendix J Individual Participant Profiles -- Appendix K Semi-Structured Individual Interview Protocol -- Appendix L Recruitment Documents and Consent Forms -- Appendix M Grid-Group Survey Data Tables for Chapter 6 -- Appendix N AGAPE Int’l Tolerance Data Tables for Chapter 7 -- Reference Cited -- Vita
WIcked Problem
Team Work
Multicultural Teams
Grid - Group
Cultural Theory
Clumsy Solution
Adult Education
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