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Journal cover: International Journal of Managing Projects in Business

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business

ISSN: 1753-8378

Online from: 2008

Subject Area: Management Science/Management Studies

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Cultural differences in decision making in project teams

Document Information:
Title:Cultural differences in decision making in project teams
Author(s):Ralf Müller, (Umeå School of Business, Malmö, Sweden), Konrad Spang, (Faculty for Project Management, University of Kassel, Kassel, Germany), Sinan Ozcan, (Faculty for Project Management, University of Kassel, Kassel, Germany)
Citation:Ralf Müller, Konrad Spang, Sinan Ozcan, (2009) "Cultural differences in decision making in project teams", International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, Vol. 2 Iss: 1, pp.70 - 93
Keywords:Decision making, Germany, Modelling, Multicultural management, Project management, Sweden
Article type:Research paper
DOI:10.1108/17538370910930527 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Purpose – The purpose of the paper is to report on research in cultural differences in decision-making styles in project teams composed of team members from different nationalities. Differences in decision making in mainly German teams vs mainly Swedish teams was assessed.

Design/methodology/approach – A sequential mixed-method approach was used, starting with interviews to develop a grounded theory, followed by survey to test the theory. Factor and regression analyses allowed for identification of the cultural antecedents of the identified differences in decision making.

Findings – Locus of control differences in decision making were identified, together with factors for differences in decisions, namely decision-making style, process, and involvement. Correlated cultural antecedents to these factors, in the form of personal attributes, were found.

Research limitations/implications – Although the research design provides for some credibility of the results, the scope of the study is limited mainly to the engineering and construction industry in the two countries.

Practical implications – The study helps team members and project managers to understand the impact of their cultural differences on decision-making process and style. Through that the study helps to minimize the potential friction when working on multicultural projects. Recommendations for practitioners are provided.

Originality/value – The idiosyncrasies of decision making in multicultural projects are researched using the example of Sweden and Germany. A model is built which extends existing project management theory. The paper also provides insights into the lived experiences of practicing project managers in multicultural teams and gives hints on how to overcome cultural barriers.

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