Multicultural Team Building

Globalization is a reality changing the landscape of almost everything, and the world of consulting is no different. Over the last quarter century organization development has taken on a global appeal and is practiced in numerous organizations across multiple sectors (Alderfer, 1977). Consulting has also found itself going through a process of change to account for the global climate, and consultants are having to add to their toolbox new skills and abilities in order to help an ever broadening client base.

One major trend consultants are assisting with in the new global context of organizational behavior is the use of multicultural teams (Greiner & Poulfelt, 2010). Organizations are incorporating multicultural teams in order to accomplish activities around the world (Greiner & Poulfelt, 2010). These teams are faced with the dilemma of rapidly developing an understanding of the team’s purpose, individual roles, and responsibilities, navigating the cultural differences represented in the team, and having to deal with the separation of time and distance (Greiner & Poulfelt, 2010).

Multicultural team building is a skill global consultants need to add to their toolbox if they desire to be effective. Currently, the number of consultants who possess an adequate range of business acumen as well as cultural knowledge are limited (Griener & Poulfelt, 2010). This begins with their ability to be adaptive in cultural contexts and engage in the culture they are serving (Cabrera & Unruh, 2012). They also need to be trained, experienced, and understand how to navigate group dynamics, team development, and cross-cultural relations in the multicultural context (Greiner & Poulfelt, 2010). This requires a knowledge of cultural differences, technology application, virtual teamwork facilitation, efficient team management (O’Hara-Devereaux & Johansen, 1994).

How does multicultural team building differ within the states?


Alderfer, C. P. (1977). Organization Development. Annual Review of Psychology, 28(1), 197–223.

Cabrera, A., & Unruh, G. (2012). Being global: how to think, act, and lead in a transformed world. Boston, Mass: Harvard Business Review Press.

Greiner, L. E., & Poulfelt, F. (Eds.). (2010). Management consulting today and tomorrow: perspectives and advice from 27 leading world experts. New York: Routledge.

O’Hara-Devereaux, M., & Johansen, R. (1994). Globalwork: bridging distance, culture, and time (1st ed). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

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