Intercultural Competence in International Teamwork: Understanding High-and Low-context Communication Styles

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Steven Levitt


During the last 30 to 40 years of the 20th century and continuing to the present, the need for multinational teams has grown extensively, and the trend will continue as globalization increases. This qualitative and international empirical study explores cultural factors affecting international team dynamics and effectiveness. The specific purpose of this study is to examine how high-and low-context communication styles impact international teamwork dynamics. Extending previous studies on team dynamics, this study found these styles are manifested in relationship development, face-saving, and power dynamics. Egocentric perceptual schemas continue to create barriers to effective communication. Competence in international teamwork is facilitated by acknowledging and validating cultural identities, reflexive sensemaking of cultural contexts including power relationships, and adaptation of behavior and communication styles. Thus, there is critical demand for increased intercultural competence for industry practitioners.

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