Intercultural Communication Barriers among Future Leaders & Followers : A study on Intercultural communication barriers in Swedish multicultural work settings

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

Abstract: This is an era of globalization due to which the world has become a Global Village and organizations are transforming into multicultural firms while increasingly building diverse teams. However, due to the organizations’ tendency towards becoming international, individuals worldwide travel and migrate from one society to another. This cross-culturalism is fabricating challenges for the countries of higher immigrant rates because individuals bring the complex nature of mixed cultures with them. The context of cross-culturalism is based on various different elements e.g. cultural specific values, norms, behaviors, lifestyles, ethics and beliefs which promote diversity in multicultural organizations. Thus the diversity of people creates intercultural barriers for managers/leaders to manage multicultural teams as well as challenges have increased for employees/followers who work in those teams. However, it has become crucial for both leaders and followers to learn cultural competencies so that they can manage cultural barriers and perform effectively as well as efficiently in multicultural teams.Due to the rising demand to learn intercultural competencies, this research was initiated to help future leaders and followers to better understand and manage ICC barriers. This study is an addition to existing research and will guide multicultural organizations and their participants (leaders & followers). However two questions were developed around which this study has been executed 1) How do participants from High context and Low context cultures experience intercultural communication barriers while working in multicultural settings? and 2) How can intercultural communication barriers/challenges effectively be managed among participants? In order to answer these questions, interviews on students were conducted at four universities of Sweden for the purpose of collecting empirical data which later on analyzed with the existing literature relevant to ICC.The findings of this study conclude that both High-context (HC) cultures and Low-context (LC) cultures have differences among each other which create barriers/challenges for the individuals working in multicultural settings. The results represent that when an individual from HC moves to LC, he/she comes across challenges or even if an HC moves to HC he/she faces some sort of challenges in any way possible too and, same goes for LC. The empirical data after analysis with existing literature proved that every culture whether it’s LC or HC wants to interact with HC or LC, it always creates challenges and conflicts. But at the same time there are some possible steps which can be taken to manage these barriers e.g. observation of cultures, active listening, comparison with own culture, have a dialogue around the problem as well as understanding of others’ behaviors and giving them space.

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