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IBM Company’s Multicultural Project Team Management Case Study

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Updated: Jul 30th, 2021

If you calculate the person-hours devoted to IBM’s team projects, they amount to more than 180,000 hours of management time each year. Do you think this is a wise investment of IBM’s human resources? Why or why not?

IBM’s team projects certainly take up much person-time in terms of HR management; however, such time and effort expenditures can be considered beneficial. In their projects, IBM has put its stake on teamwork, which requires the teams to complete tasks collectively. Considering that IBM runs quite a number of outsourcing/offshore projects, the number of hours appears adequate. Teams sent abroad can attract customers, including people as well as organizations. The team that IBM trains are multicultural, which ensures a diversity of human resources. By diversifying the teams, IBM enhances their capacity to work with customers of different cultures (Hymowitz n.pag.). Other benefits of spending so much effort to manage the resources include, for example, enhanced problem-solving and analytical thinking. Also, such teamwork will ensure IBMers cooperate on the global scale and are open-minded enough to overcome cultural clashes. As a result, mutual trust is built between the shareholders of diverse cultures; when the shareholders understand each other, it is easier for them to achieve the desired outcome in cooperation, as was proved by the launch of Corporate Service Corps in 2008 (“Corporate Service Corps” n.d.). Finally, such teamwork creates a possibility of knowledge and know-how sharing, which is also valuable.

Would you like to work on one of IBM’s multicultural, multinational project teams? Why or why not?

Working on one of IBM’s multicultural and multinational projects would be a marvelous experience. It would provide an excellent opportunity for personal development in terms of identity. As Gurchiek suggests, when a person works globally, they develop a global identity as opposed to the local one (Gurchiek par. 2). Such development would help me better integrate into the team and open up for valuable knowledge. Furthermore, having an insight into a diverse-cultured team’s work would boost my cultural awareness and give me an in-depth perspective on how culture and business are intertwined. That is, I would get some know-how on the ways business and delivery services function from the cultural perspective. Such practice would also give me a chance to easily adapt to cultural diversity and polish my problem-solving, networking, and team-work-related skills because teamwork can be regarded as one of the most effective ways of training (Aguinis and Kraiger 462).

Multicultural project teams often face problems with communication, expectations, and values. How do you think some of these challenges can be overcome?

Each individual team member has their own expectations and conceptions of business etiquette, leadership, and procedures (Gupta par. 2). As a result, the diversity of cultures can present challenges as well as benefits. Diverse values and beliefs are expressed through communication, which is why establishing understanding is the ultimate way to resolve the problems by gathering momentum (Mautner 10).

Understanding is the key component of problem-solving because it requires team members of different cultures to listen to each other. Thus, the primary means of establishing understanding is constructive dialog. From the dialog, other people’s values and expectations can be understood – provided that the communicators listen attentively and ask questions. Furthermore, it is worth considering that diverse-cultured team members might or might not be fluent in the agreed lingua franca. Be it English or any other language that the team has agreed on using, some people can experience difficulties expressing themselves in this language. To make sure the dialog is effective, patience is the key. The team members should keep in mind the difficulties and wait until their colleagues have expressed their thoughts. Some help with putting their thoughts into a non-native language can be required. Patience and helpfulness can help make the dialog effective and thus enhance communication.

Works Cited

Aguinis, Herman, and Kurt Kraiger. “Benefits of Training and Development for Individuals and Teams, Organizations, and Society.” Annual Review of Psychology 60.1 (2009): 451-474.

“Corporate Service Corps.” IBM. IBM, n.d. Web.

Gupta, Sangeeta. “Mine the Potential of Multicultural Teams.” HR Magazine 53.10 (2008): 79-84. Print.

Gurchiek, Kathy. “Global Training Sought for Leaders of Multicultural Teams.” Society for Human Resource Management. SHRM. 2011. Web.

Hymowitz, Carol. The Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones and Company. 2008. Web.

Mautner, John. “Solving Problems – The Right Way.” Ceramic Industry 156.11 (2006): 10.

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