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The present article is written by Milosevic who is engineering management associate professor at Portland State University and director of training for Pinnell&Busch, Inc. The main concern of the article under discussion is effective paradigm which serves to remove cross-cultural issues project managers usually face.
The major goal of the article is to “examine the influence of cultural values on project management, interpret the silent language, and show how to use the language for successful multicultural project management” (Milosevic, 1999, p.29).
Milosevic claims that companies deploy cross cultural project management trainings which prove to be ineffective, since existing training programs do not take into account the fact that people pertaining to different cultural traditions perceive the same information differently.
Moreover, it is important to understand that even if some technique is effective for one occasion, it can be inappropriate for another case involving people of another culture. After having considered the importance of paying attention to cultural differences, Milosevic suggests his paradigm which presupposes the use of six variables which enable project managers to understand cultural differences.
These variables are: “relationship to environment, time orientation, nature of people, activity orientation, focus on responsibility, and orientation to space” (Milosevic, 1999, p.30). The article under discussion provides detailed description of the variables suggesting some examples.
Milosevic also illustrates the use of his paradigm showing how managers can understand their own culture, understand their team members’ culture, identify “cultural and language gaps”, and resolve those gaps (Milosevic, 1999, p.35). The present article also contains certain precautions or “don’ts”. Milosevic claims that it is incorrect to project all cultural peculiarities to a certain individual since every person can be influenced by several cultures.
Moreover, Milosevic underlines that cultures are dynamic, they change and develop (slowly but still change), so it is important to take into account those changes. Thus, Milosevic comes to the conclusion that understanding of the silent language and the use of his paradigm, along with project manager’s creativity, can enable multicultural project managers to avoid possible cross cultural issues.
Key learning points
The present article can be very helpful for multicultural project managers and all those who want to understand the peculiarities of management in multicultural environment. In the first place, the article provides relevant theoretical information. Milosevic outlines the major difficulties which emerge in the field of multicultural management. The author provides the necessary background knowledge which links his research to the overall study. The article under consideration is also illustrated by definite examples.
These examples make the article more practical and even more comprehensible for wide audience. For instance, when talking about cultural peculiarities Milosevic points out some peculiar features of certain nations (Americans, Italians, Russians, Japanese, etc.). Readers can associate themselves with people depicted in the article which helps them to comprehend the paradigm better since they start understanding their cultural peculiarities (which is the first stage of the paradigm).
It is necessary to note that the major points which help to understand the use of the paradigm are presented in a very explicit form, i.e. in tables. Moreover, Milosevic provides an example of using the paradigm by an American. So, the reader can easily follow the steps portrayed and learn to use the effective paradigm. As has already been mentioned, the article can be useful for a wide audience. The language of the article does not contain difficult terminology or incomprehensible theories.
It is written in simple English which makes it possible for people of different nations to understand easily the material presented. The present article suggests an effective technique to use while working in multicultural environment. The reader can learn how to understand him/herself as a part of certain nation, understand other nations and learn to cooperate with other people. It goes without saying that the ability to cooperate effectively enables companies to develop their businesses, introduce new products and enter new markets.
The present article provides valuable and helpful information for coping with cross cultural diversity difficulties. Of course, there are still many questions to be answered. Many scholars try to reveal new facets of the issue.
For example, Anbari et al. (2004) depict well-known theories (which include the study of people’s attitude towards time, space, responsibility, action) which help to cope with difficulties of multicultural development revealing cases of success and failure, and concluding that multicultural project management can succeed “through effective leadership, cross-cultural communication, mutual respect, and reconciliation” (Anbari et al., 2004, p.273). Another research implemented by Chevrier (2004) dwells upon the practices similar to that depicted in the article under consideration.
Chevreir (2004) also suggests alternative method to improve the development of cross-cultural projects and concludes that “culture bound approaches” are exclusively important for multicultural project management. Some scholars are more concerned with defining issues emerging during implementation of cross-cultural projects. For instance, Oertig and Buergi (2006) classified the most common difficulties which project managers face.
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This research contributes to the overall study since it outlines definite areas which require particular attention. Another research implemented by Gullestrup (2003) studies one of the points mentioned in the article under discussion: individuals are often influenced by more than one culture. Gullestrup (2003) suggests an analytical model which enables to understand cultural peculiarities of different people which is helpful for managing cross-cultural projects.
The article under consideration is very helpful in terms of new product development process. The globalized world presupposes that this process should take into account cross-cultural techniques and paradigms: companies located in different countries collaborate to produce new products, companies try to enter new markets.
The article helps to work out effective technique which will make the process of developing new products less problematic. For instance, having in mind the paradigm suggested by Milosevic project managers will be able to establish effective schedules and budgets. Thus, if a project manager knows peculiarities of certain nations it will enable him/her to get prepared to negotiations better, taking into account his/her partners attitude towards time, action, space and responsibility.
Apart from this Milosevic states that it is incorrect to assume that if an individual pertains to a certain culture he/she should necessarily possess certain common features. The present article helps understand that cultures change and people are influenced by several cultures at a time, so project managers will be able to use various techniques (which constantly emerge) more effectively. The article can make readers a bit more creative and flexible, and these features are decisive for successful management in multicultural environment.
Anbari, F.T., Khilkhanova, E.V., Romanova, M.V., Umpleby, S.A. (2004). Managing Cultural Differences in International Projects. Journal of International Business and Economics,II(1), 267-274.
Chevrier, S. (2003). Cross-Cultural Management in Multinational Project Groups. Journal of World Business, 38, 141-149.
Gullestrup, H. (2003).The Complexity of Intercultural Communication in Cross-Cultural Management, 6. Retrieved from http://www.immi.se/intercultural/nr6/gullestrup.pdf
Milosevic, D.Z. (1999). Echoes of the Silent Language of Project Management. Project Management Journal, 30(1), 27-39.
Oertig, M. and Thomas Buergi. (2006). The Challenges of Managing Cross-Cultural Virtual Project Teams. Team Performance Management, 12(1/2), 23-30.