Managerial Challenges Due to Diversity in Technical Teams
Abstract: The positive effects of diversity have been comprehensively highlighted in the academic world. However, less research has been conducted on the challenges that can occur due to diversity. Even less research has been conducted on challenges due to diversity in technical teams. In an effort to augment the positive effects of diversity, this study aims to shed light on some of the challenges due to diversity, in order for managers to be better able to understand and manage them. There are various dimensions within diversity, and no previous study seems to have exclusively studied challenges in technical teams due to diversity in functional and cultural background. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate if cultural and functional background diversity can cause tensions that lead to conflicts in technical teams. The most common type of conflict was firstly determined; subsequently, the most common underlying cause was also determined. Lastly, the study provides managerial suggestions for preventing tensions and conflicts in technical teams from escalating. This research is conducted as a case study with an abductive approach where data was collected from 13 semi-structured interviews and carefully analysed afterwards. The findings of the study revealed that tensions and conflicts can be caused by diversity in cultural and functional backgrounds in technical teams, where the most common type of conflicts was clarity in expectations, misunderstandings in expressions and language, misunderstandings due to functional background, language barrier, communication style, lack understanding of technical language, non-compatible working methods, and lack of shared and clear understanding of methods. The findings further showed three most recurring causes for tensions and conflicts: misunderstandings and mistrust, communication, and working methods. For the managerial suggestions for preventing tensions and conflicts from escalating, five themes were emphasised; Flexible management style, Understanding Behaviour & Cultural intelligence, Clear direction, clear authority and responsibilities, Prompt conflict handling and lastly, Building trust and shared understanding. The findings of the study thus demonstrated that diversity in the cultural and functional background in technical teams can cause tensions or conflicts in technical teams, and the most common type of conflict in this study was human-rooted conflict.
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