"Communication is key to understand who we are dealing with" : A case study of managers' internal communication when leading in multicultural settings

University essay from Linnéuniversitetet/Institutionen för organisation och entreprenörskap (OE)

Abstract: Introduction: Communication is said to be one of the most important yet most challenging aspects of leadership. Today's globalized world creates new dimensions, requirements and higher demands are placed on managers' internal communication in order to be able to handle different cultural aspects and employees. Managers may face a myriad of challenges such as language barriers, cultural diversity through different values, behavioral patterns of team members and way of thinking. Previous research on communication shows that the focus has been on external communication, there has been limited connection between cultural impact and internal communication, and the concept of communication channels within internal communication, from a managerial perspective, is still rather unexamined. Purpose: By examining managers' understanding of cultural aspects in internal communication in multicultural settings, we aim to increase the understanding of what is required of managers, when communicating internally, so that the message is interpreted and understood by the various employees in a multicultural team. By adding the perspective of communication styles and communication channels into internal communication in multicultural settings, a broader understanding of the important tools for effective communication can be understood. Research methodology: The study is a case study based on a qualitative research method with an inductive approach. Twelve recorded semi-structured interviews with six main questions, and several sub-questions, were conducted with twelve various managers who lead multicultural teams in six different global companies. The theoretical framework is, from the empirical material, based on four themes- the importance of leadership, internal communication and communication style, the influence of culture and communication channels. Result and analysis: The result from the study shows that the role of leadership, internal communication and communication style, the influence of culture and communication channels are important aspects for managers to have knowledge of, in order to handle internal communication and successfully lead multicultural teams. Conclusion: The role of leadership, knowledge of culture, adaptation and the most beneficial communication channels are important factors for managers to have knowledge of for the effectiveness of internal communication. Culture plays an important role for communication,and it is essential to understand the meaning of culture. At the same time, the individual’s personality behind the culture has significance as well. It is therefore important for managers to be able to look beyond culture and also be able to navigate from other aspects. Keywords: Leadership, Communication, Internal communication, Multicultural teams, Culture, Communication channels, Communication style, Cultural diversity, Management

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