M.Sc Thesis

M.Sc StudentLeshem Lee
SubjectMulticultural Work Teams and Situation Strength: Effects on
Team Performance, Emotional Exhaustion and Team
DepartmentDepartment of Industrial Engineering and Management
Supervisors PROFESSOR EMERITUS Miriam Erez
PROF. Anat Rafaeli
Full Thesis textFull thesis text - English Version


In this era of globalization work frequently involves interactions with people who are geographically dispersed and culturally diverse, and this trend will become even more diverse in the future. Advantages of cultural variation include a variety of perspectives and a wider pool of knowledge and information. But disadvantages may be communication problems and poor coordination and cooperation as a result of differences in values and behavioral norms. We propose the situational strength (well versus poorly structured work context) as a moderator of the relationship between multicultural experiences, communication processes, fatigue and task performance. Based on a laboratory study of 47 culturally homogeneous dyads, from Israel and Singapore, and 40 culturally heterogeneous dyads, our findings support the moderating effect of the situational strength. Under a weak situation multicultural dyads had ineffective team processes - more conflict and less cooperation and cohesion, experienced higher fatigue, and reached lower performance levels than homogenous dyads. No such differences occurred in the strong situation. Our findings suggest that situation structure can overcome the impediments of communication problems in multi-cultural interactions, by providing clear guidelines and shared meaning to what needs to be done that overrule the differences in multicultural experiences and enable these teams to build upon their strengths. Research limitations are discussed.