טכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל
הטכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל - בית הספר ללימודי מוסמכים  
M.Sc Thesis
M.Sc StudentNouri Rikki
SubjectCreativity in Multicultural Teams: The Effects of Cultural
Diversity and Situational Strength on Creative
Performance
DepartmentDepartment of Industrial Engineering and Management
Supervisor Professor Emeritus Miriam Erez
Full Thesis textFull thesis text - English Version


Abstract

Nowadays organizational success is influenced by the creative contributions of individuals and teams. An increasing number of teams working in global organizations are multicultural, with team members coming from different cultural backgrounds, and often work as a virtual team, coordinating their team performance effort via the internet and other technological devices.

Cultural diversity can increase the diverse knowledge and viewpoints that lead to the creation of new knowledge, but, can negatively influence group processes by increasing misunderstandings. We expect the difficulties in idea sharing, and fluent communication, to inhibit heterogeneous groups' creative performance compared to homogenous group.        

Another objective is to examine situational and task characteristics that enhance creativity of heterogeneous and homogenous teams. Previous studies have emphasized factors such as freedom of choice or autonomy, as critical for creative accomplishment. However, there have been no systematic studies of these factors on the creative process in teams. We would like to fill this gap, by studying group creativity as affected by the autonomy and ambiguity that the creative task enables, therefore we claim that situation strength can affect team creativity on creative tasks that require divergent thinking. Unlike the case of convergent tasks we propose that creative tasks will be better performed under weak situations that allow higher levels of exploration than under strong situations.

97 dyads worked as virtual teams in an experiment that took place simultaneously in Israel and in Singapore via the MSN messenger program. Dyads were either heterogenous (Israeli-Singaporean) or homogenous (Israeli-Israeli, Singaporean/ Singaporean). Situational strength was manipulated by the clarity of the instructions and the ambiguity of the stimuli in the creative tasks. Independent judges evaluated creativity performance.

ANOVA analyses indicated that cultural diversity reduced team creativity as homogenous dyads outperformed heterogeneous dyads. In addition, the overall level of team creativity was higher in the weak than in the strong situation.

As expected, a weak situation has a positive effect on the originality of the new ideas.

Findings suggest that the opportunity to explore in a weak situation facilitates team creativity and this conclusion is true across national cultures. As for the effect of cultural diversity on team creativity, our findings suggest that while culturally diverse teams have the potential for creativity due to their different mindsets, to realize this potential is more difficult than the cognitive resource diversity theory would suggest. Additional in depth analysis, text analysis, conclusions and implication will be further discussed.