Obstacles to Innovative Interaction: Communication Management in Culturally Diverse Organizations

Jakob Lauring (1)
(1) Aarhus School of Business, Arhus University, Denmark , Denmark


Cultural diversity has often been described as yielding competitive advantages like, for example, innovation resulting from the combination of different cultural perspectives. However, there are also substantial organizational problems related to managing cultural diversity, which need to be overcome in order for diversity to be a useful asset. Based on an empirical study of Danish multicultural companies, this article argues that the understanding of communication processes may reveal important aspects about the obstacles of managing cultural diversity. The main argument is that language-use is linked to social processes that can create boundary creation or social fragmentation within multicultural organizations.

Full text article

Generated from XML file


Adler, N. J. 1997. International dimensions of organisational behaviour. Cincinnati: South Western Publishing.

Alvesson, M. 2003. Beyond Neopositivists, Romantics, and Localists: A reflexive approach to interviews in organisational research. Academy of Management Review, 28(1): 13-33. DOI: https://doi.org/10.5465/amr.2003.8925191

Barth, F. 1971. Ethnic groups and Boundaries, The social organization of cultural difference. Bergen: Universitetsforlaget.

Bassett-Jones, N. 2005. The Paradox of Diversity Management, Creativity and Innovation. Creativity & Innovation Management, 14(2): 169-176. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8691.00337.x

Beamer, L. 1992. Learning Intercultural Communication Competence. Journal of Business Communication, 29(3): 285-303. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/002194369202900306

Beamer, L. 1998. Bridging Business Cultures. China Business Review, 25(3): 54-58.

Beamer, L., & Varner, I. 2001. Intercultural Communication in the Global Workplace. New York: McGraw-Hill Irvin.

Beamer, L., & Varner, I. 2005. Intercultural Communication in the Global Workplace. New York: McGraw-Hill/Irvin.

Bernard, R. H. 1995. Research Methods in anthropology, Qualitative and Quantitative approaches. Thousand Oaks: Sage.

Bonache, J., & Brewster, C. 2001. Knowledge Transfer and the Management of Expatriation. Thunderbird International Business Review, 43(1): 3-20. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/1520-6874(200101/02)43:1<3::AID-TIE2>3.0.CO;2-4

Bourdieu, P. 1991. Language and symbolic power. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Bourdieu, P. 2004. Distinction - a social critique of the judgement of taste. London: Routledge.

Brown, J. S., & Duguid, P. 2001. Knowledge and Organization. Organisation Science, 12(2): 198-213. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1287/orsc.

Cooren, F. 2006. The organizational world as a plenum of agencies. In F. Cooren, J. R. Taylor, & E. J. Van every (Eds.), Communication as Organizing: 81-101. London: LEA.

Cox, T. 1994. Cultural Diversity in Organizations: Theory, research and practice. San Fransisco: Berrett-Koehler.

Distefano, J. J., & Maznevski, M. L. 2000. Creating value with diverse teams in global management. Organizational Dynamics, 29(1): 45-63. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0090-2616(00)00012-7

Dowling, P. J., & Welch, D. E. 2004. International Human Resource Management - Managing People in a Multinational Environment. London: Thomson Learning.

Fontana, A., & Frey, J. H. 1994. Interviewing: The art of the science. In N. Denzin, & Y. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of Qualitative Research: 361-376. London: Sage.

Guzzo, R. A., & Salas, E. A. 1995. Team Effectiveness and decision-making in organizations. San Fransisco: Jossey-Bass.

Hagedorn-Rasmussen, P., & Kamp, A. 2003. Mangfoldighedsledelse: mellem vision og ledelse. København: Socialforskningsinstituttet.

Hall, E. 1959. The silent language. New York: Doubleday.

Hedetoft, U. 2003. The Global Turn - National encounters with the World. Aalborg: Aalborg University Press.

Henderson, J. K. 2005. Language diversity in international management teams. International Studies of Management and Organization, 35(1): 66-82. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/00208825.2005.11043722

Hervik, P. 1999. Forskellighedens logik: Fremstillingen, forestillingen og forskningen. In P. Hervik (Ed.), Den generelle forskellighed: Danske svar på den stigende multikulturalisme: 15-50. København: Hans Reitzels Forlag.

Holden, N. J. 2002. Cross-cultural management. A knowledge management perspective. Dorset: Prentice Hall.

Iles, P., & Hayers, P. K. 1997. Managing diversity in transnational project teams. Journal of Management Psychology, 12(2): 95-117. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1108/02683949710164190

Jacobs, B., Lûtzen, D. C., & Plum, E. 2001. Mangfoldighed som virksomhedsstrategi - På vej mod den inkluderende organisation. København: Nordisk Forlag.

Janssens, M., Lambert, J., & Steyaert, C. 2004. Developing language strategies for international companies: the contribution of translation studies. Journal of World Business, 39: 414-430. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jwb.2004.08.006

Jenkins, R. 1997. Rethinking Ethnicity - Arguments and Explorations. London: Sage Publications.

Jensen, I. 2004. The Practice of Intercultural Communication - reflections for professionals in cultural meetings. Journal of Intercultural Communication(6): 1-17.

Kim, Y. Y. 2005. Inquiry in intercultural and development communication. Journal of Communication, September: 554-577. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-2466.2005.tb02685.x

Kochan, T., Bezrukova, K., Ely, R., Jackson, S., Joshi, A., Jehn, K., Leonard, J., Levine, D., & Thomas, D. 2003. The effects of diversity on business performance: Report of the diversity research network. Human Resource Management, 42(1): 3-21. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/hrm.10061

Kvale, S. 1996. Interviews An Introduction to Qualitative Research Interviewing. Thousand Oaks: Sage.

Lagerström, K., & Andersson, M. 2003. Creating and sharing knowledge within a transnational team: The development of a global business system. Journal of World Business, 38: 84-95. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S1090-9516(03)00003-8

Lauring, J. 2005. Når organisationen bliver mangfoldig - om vidensdeling og interaktion i etnisk mangfoldige organisationer. Handelshøjskolen i Århus, Århus.

Lauring, J., & Ross, C. 2004. Cultural Diversity and Organisational Effiency. New Zealand Journal of Employment Relations, 29(1): 89-103.

Leonard, D., & Swap, W. 1999. When Sparks Fly: Igniting creativity in groups. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business School Press.

Loosemore, M., & Lee, P. 2002. Communication problems with ethnic minorities in the construction industry. International Journal of Project Management 20: 517-524. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0263-7863(01)00055-2

Maznevski, M. L. 1994. Understanding our differences: Performance in decision making groups with diverse members. Human Relations, 47(5): 531-553. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/001872679404700504

Maznevski, M. L., & Chudoba, K. M. 2000. Bridging Space over Time: Global Virtual Team Dynamics and Effectiveness. Organization Science, 11(5): 473-492. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1287/orsc.11.5.473.15200

Miller, M., Fields, R., Kumar, A., & Ortiz, R. 2000. Leadership and Organizational Vision In Managing a Multiethnic and Multicultural Project Team. Journal of Management in Engineering, 16(6): 18-23. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1061/(ASCE)0742-597X(2000)16:6(18)

O'Reilly, C. A., Caldwell, D. F., & Barnett, W. P. 1989. Work group demography, social integration and turnover. Administrative Science Quarterly, 34: 21-37. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2307/2392984

O'Reilly, C. A., & Flatt, S. 1989. Executive team demography: Organizational innovation and firm performance. Berkeley: University of California.

Paulus, P. B. 2000. Groups, teams, and creativity: The creative potential of idea generating groups. Applied Psychology: An internationl Review, 49: 237-262. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/1464-0597.00013

Pike, K. L. 1965. Language in Relation to a Unified Theory of the structure of Human Behavior. The Hague: Mouton.

Robichaud, D. 2006. Steps toward a relational view of agency. In F. Cooren, J. R. Taylor, & E. J. Van every (Eds.), Communication as Organizing: 101-115. London: LEA.

Roosens, E. E. 1989. Creating ethnicity. London: Sage.

Salomon, M., F., & Schork, J. M. 2003. Turn Diversity to Your Advantage. Research - Technology Management, July - August: 37-44. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/08956308.2003.11671575

Spradley, J. P. 1980. Participant observation. New York: Holt Rinehart and Winston.

Steiner, I. D. 1972. Group Process and Productivity. San Diego: Academic Press.

Taylor, F. 2006. Coorientation: a conceptual framework. In F. Cooren, J. R. Taylor, & E. J. Van Every (Eds.), Communication as Organizing: 141-157. London: LEA.

Taylor, J. R., & Cooren, F. 1997. What makes communication 'organizational'? How the many voices of a collectivity become the one voice of an organization. Journal of Pragmatics, 27: 409-438. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0378-2166(96)00044-6

Triandis, N. C., Hall, E. R., & Ewen, R. B. 1965. Member homogeneity and Dyadic Creativity. Human Relations, 18: 33-54. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/001872676501800104

Varey, R. J. 2006. Accounts in interactions: Implications of accounting practices for managing. In F. Cooren, J. R. Taylor, & E. J. Van every (Eds.), Communication as Organizing: 181-197.

Wagner, W., & Pfeffer, J. 1984. Organizational demography and turnover in top management groups. Administrative Science Quarterly, 29: 74-92. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2307/2393081

Weick, K. E. 1979. The social psychology of organizing. London: Addison-Westley publishing company.

West, M. A. 2002. Sparkling Fountains or Stagnant Ponds: An Integrative Model of Creativity and Innovation Implementation in Work Groups. Applied Psychology: An international Review, 51(3): 355-424.c DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/1464-0597.00951


Jakob Lauring
JaLa@asb.dk (Primary Contact)
Author Biography

Jakob Lauring, Aarhus School of Business, Arhus University, Denmark

Jakob Lauring is an Assistant Professor at Aarhus School of Business, Arhus University, Denmark.
In the last years he has been working with intercultural interaction in culturally diverse organisations.

Lauring, J. (2007). Obstacles to Innovative Interaction: Communication Management in Culturally Diverse Organizations. Journal of Intercultural Communication, 7(3), 1–11. https://doi.org/10.36923/jicc.v7i3.446

Article Details

Smart Citations via scite_
  • Abstract 104
  • Download PDF 52