Cross-cultural Project Management and Intercultural Communication Competencies in Non-profit Organizations

University essay from Umeå universitet/Företagsekonomi; Umeå universitet/Företagsekonomi

Abstract: This dissertation aims to contribute to the knowledge on Cross-cultural Project Management. The concept of culture brings a huge complexity to this study, since there are no conventions about its definition and the concept continues to be on debate. Moreover, culture has another dynamic element nowadays, the fast-paced technology evolution that changes day to day and influences culture and intercultural relations. Technology is reducing the geographical distances and bringing people together in an easier way. This context is also changing the Project Management processes; therefore, the organizations are opting for developing their operations in a project-based approach. That is the case of the non-profit organizations NPO, which is the sector that is having the most huge impact in the hiring of human resources from all over the world to compose multicultural teams in order to deploy their humanitarian projects in different territories of the planet, turning this projects in to very complex cultural systems that need Project Managers with very particular skills, specifically in the area of communication which becomes the engine of each of their endeavours. With this reflexion in mind, our research question is: What are the intercultural communication competences required in the cross-cultural project management in the non-profit sector? In order to give answer to our research question and taking in to account the high level of subjectivity and relativity of the concept of culture and the fact that not much has been found in literature regarding this topic in the NPO sector, we designed an exploratory research in a line of an interpretive paradigm. Through the conduction of a qualitative approach research, and a strategy inspired in the Grounded Theory. We developed several interviews, given by experts in project and programme management, human resources and communication, within non-profit organizations that have deployed international projects with multicultural teams and contexts. The findings show that in the Non-Profit sector, the motivations are based on values, beliefs and motivation for the transformation of mind-sets, therefore, the project managers in this sector tend to have a high sensitivity for cultural factors. All of them argue that communication is crucial in the intercultural projects. Moreover, they all shared some drivers of solutions to overcome certain challenges in the intercultural context, for instance, they stated the importance on a previous study of the “historical context” or “historical memory” of the territories where they deploy their projects in order to understand the local cultures and develop a more adequate and successful project. Moreover they suggest that “deconstructing” the previous rational conceptions would help to understand the host cultures. The knowledge about human rights would also enhance the work of a project manager in the field. These and other findings will be discussed in this document.

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