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Multi Cultural Intervention Vs Effectiveness of Group Discussions

Kirjoittanut: Ruwanthi Moragoda Arachchi - tiimistä Ei tiimiä.

Esseen tyyppi: Akateeminen essee / 3 esseepistettä.

Syed Saniat Amin
Esseen arvioitu lukuaika on 7 minuuttia.

Written by Ruwanthi Moragoda Arachchi & Syed Saniat Amin


Have you ever been part of a group discussion where despite everyone having the same goal, there seems to be a communication breakdown? Perhaps, you were struggling to understand a different person’s perspective, or you found yourself holding back from sharing your ideas. This may be due to the impact of cultural influences on the success of group discussions. Understanding and managing these cultural elements has become crucial for enterprises in today’s globally interconnected world in order to promote efficient group discussion, collaboration, and decision-making.

What is Culture?

According to social experts the term “Culture “ has hundreds of definitions and meanings. But I considered the defiition presented by Hofstede “Culture is the collective programming of the mind that distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from others”. Further he explains that is interconnected phenomenon but it always connected to different (Hofstede ,2001). “Most commonly the term culture is used for tribes or ethnic groups (in anthropology), for nations (in political science, sociology and management), and for organizations (in sociology and management). A relatively unexplored field is the culture of occupations (for instance, of engineers versus accountants, or of academics from different disciplines). The term can also be applied to the genders, to generations, or to social classes. However, changing the level of aggregation studied changes the nature of the concept of ‘culture’. Societal, national and gender cultures, which children acquire from their earliest youth onwards, are much deeper rooted in the human mind than occupational cultures acquired at school, or than organizational cultures acquired on the job. The latter are exchangeable when people take a new job. Societal cultures reside in (often unconscious) values, in the sense of broad tendencies to prefer certain states of affairs over others” (Hofstede, 2001, p. 5).

Strategies for Overcoming Cross-Cultural Barriers in Group Discussions

Effective group discussions are critical for organizations to succeed, as they can lead to innovative ideas, a culture of collaboration, and informed decision-making (Bostrom & Anson, 2019). The success of these dialogues can, however, be strongly impacted by cultural traits such communication style differences, power distance, individuality versus collectivism, and uncertainty avoidance (Brouwer & Trompenaars, 2017). Ignoring these factors can result in misunderstandings, conflicts, and ineffective decision-making, emphasizing the need to investigate their influence and develop strategies for overcoming potential barriers to cross-cultural collaboration (Gelfand et al., 2017). By doing so, organizations can leverage the full potential of their diverse workforce and create a collaborative environment that fosters innovation, growth, and success (Li & Zhang, 2018).

The culture of a group or community is defined by its shared values, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors (Hofstede, 2011). People’s perceptions of and interactions with one another, as well as how they understand and react to information, can all be influenced by culture. Individualism versus collectivism, power distance, differences in communication styles, and aversion to ambiguity are among cultural elements that might affect how effective group discussions are (Brouwer & Trompenaars, 2017). Therefore, it is essential to comprehend how cultural elements affect group discussion and to create policies that encourage intercultural cooperation.

Communication styles refer to the way people use language and nonverbal cues to convey information and express themselves. Different cultures may have distinctive ways of communicating, which may influence how people participate in group discussions. For instance, although certain cultures favor subtle and polite speech, others may encourage direct and assertive communication (Hall, 1976). As participants may interpret one other’s messages differently during group discussions, these communication style variances may cause misunderstandings and conflicts (Gudykunst & Ting-Toomey, 1988). Therefore, In cross-cultural group conversations, it’s critical to be aware of the variations in communication styles and to adjust to them.

Power distance is the extent to which members of a community accept and prepare for unequal distributions of power and authority. In high power distance cultures, people may defer to authority figures and abstain from questioning their judgements or decisions, but in low power distance cultures, people may feel more comfortable speaking their opinions and challenging authority. Participants in high power distance cultures may be less likely to speak out and provide suggestions during group discussions as a result of these disparities in power distance (Hofstede, 1980).

The degree to which people give priority to personal aspirations and interests over those of the group is referred to as individualism against collectivism. Individuals may prioritize their own objectives and interests over the goals and interests of the collective in individualistic societies, but they may do the opposite in collectivistic cultures. These differences in individualism versus collectivism can affect how individuals interact in group discussion, as participants in individualistic cultures may be more competitive and assertive, while participants in collectivistic cultures may be more cooperative and deferential (Hofstede, 1980).

Uncertainty avoidance refers to how much people try to avoid ambiguity and uncertainty. People may value stability and predictability in high uncertainty avoidance cultures and may be less open to change and taking risks, whereas people may be more at ease with ambiguity and change in low uncertainty avoidance cultures. These differences in uncertainty avoidance can affect how individuals engage in group discussion, as participants in high uncertainty avoidance cultures may be more resistant to new ideas and may prefer to stick with familiar and proven solutions (Hofstede, 1980).

To overcome potential barriers to cross-cultural collaboration in group discussion, it is important to develop cultural intelligence, which refers to the ability to understand and adapt to different cultural perspectives and behaviors.

Strategies to develop cultural intelligence.

  1. Building awareness of one’s own cultural biases and assumptions is an essential step towards developing cultural intelligence. Individuals can start by reflecting on their own cultural background and how it may influence their perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors towards individuals from different cultures. They can also seek feedback from others on their communication style and how it may be perceived by individuals from different cultures.
  2. Developing an open and curious mindset towards different cultural perspectives and behaviors is another important aspect of cultural intelligence. This involves avoiding stereotypes and generalizations and recognizing the individuality of each person, regardless of their cultural background. Individuals can approach interactions with individuals from different cultures with a sense of curiosity and a willingness to learn, rather than if they already know everything about the other person’s culture.
  3. Learning about the cultural values, norms, and communication styles of the individuals and groups one interacts with is a crucial aspect of cultural intelligence. This can involve researching the culture, asking questions, and observing behaviors. Individuals can also adapt their communication style to fit the situation, considering factors such as the context, the purpose of the discussion, and the cultural background of the individuals involved.
  4. Practicing active listening and asking questions to clarify and understand others’ perspectives is another important skill for effective cross-cultural communication. Paying great attention to what the other person is saying, clarifying any misunderstandings with questions, and reflecting back on what you have heard to ensure understanding are all parts of active listening. This can help individuals to avoid making assumptions and to gain a deeper understanding of the other person’s perspective.
  5. Creating a safe and inclusive environment that encourages all participants to contribute and respect each other’s opinions and perspectives is also critical for effective cross-cultural group discussion. This involves creating a culture of respect, where individuals feel valued and included, regardless of their cultural background. Individuals can encourage participation by actively seeking input from all participants and creating opportunities for everyone to contribute. They can also ensure that everyone’s opinions are respected and that disagreements are handled in a constructive and respectful manner.
  6. Embracing discomfort: Developing cultural intelligence requires stepping out of one’s comfort zone and engaging with individuals and groups from different cultural backgrounds. This can be uncomfortable, as it may involve confronting one’s own biases and assumptions. However, individuals can develop their cultural intelligence by embracing discomfort and challenging themselves to engage in cross-cultural interactions.
  7. Seeking out opportunities for cross-cultural experiences: People can actively look for opportunities to interact with people from different cultures by going to cultural events or joining a cross-cultural group, for example. These experiences can provide individuals with the opportunity to learn about and appreciate different cultural perspectives, as well as to develop their cultural intelligence through hands-on experience.
  8. As people’s behavior during group brainstorming is affected by peer evaluation and social conformity, culture and media may influence the extent of evaluation pressure people perceive and change the dynamics of group brainstorming”(Fussell ,Setlock and Wang 2009)

Overcoming Barriers to Cross-Cultural Collaboration in Group Discussions

Cultural factors can have a significant influence on the effectiveness of group discussion, and it is important to develop cultural intelligence to overcome potential barriers to cross-cultural collaboration. By building awareness, developing an open mindset, learning about the cultural values and communication styles of others, practicing active listening, and creating a safe and inclusive environment, individuals can enhance their ability to engage in effective cross-cultural group discussion. Moreover, organizations can also play a crucial role in promoting cultural intelligence and facilitating cross-cultural collaboration. Organizations can promote cultural intelligence by providing training and resources that help employees understand and appreciate cultural differences. This can include training on intercultural communication, cultural norms and values, and diversity and inclusion (Livermore, 2018). Organizations can also create opportunities for employees to interact with individuals from different cultural backgrounds, such as through cross-functional teams or international assignments. By fostering a culture of cultural intelligence and cross-cultural collaboration, organizations can not only enhance the effectiveness of group discussion but also promote innovation, creativity, and global competitiveness (Kapoor & Solomon, 2011).

However, developing cultural intelligence and promoting cross-cultural collaboration is not without challenges. One major challenge is overcoming stereotypes and biases that can hinder effective communication and collaboration across cultures. Stereotypes and biases can lead to assumptions about others based on their culture, rather than recognizing their individual differences and strengths. This can lead to misunderstandings, conflicts, and a lack of trust and respect in group discussions. Another challenge is managing cultural conflicts that can arise in group discussions. Cultural conflicts can occur when individuals from different cultures have divergent opinions, values, or communication styles. Cultural conflicts can be addressed by creating a safe and inclusive environment that encourages open and respectful communication, and by using conflict resolution strategies that take cultural differences into account (Livermore, 2018).


In conclusion, the effectiveness of group discussion can be influenced by various cultural factors, including communication styles, power separation, individualism vs. collectivism, and avoiding uncertainty. To overcome potential barriers to cross-cultural collaboration, individuals can develop cultural intelligence by building awareness, developing an open mindset, learning about cultural values and communication styles, practicing active listening, and creating a safe and inclusive environment. Organizations can also play a crucial role in promoting cultural intelligence and facilitating cross-cultural collaboration by providing training and resources, creating opportunities for cross-cultural interaction, and fostering a culture of diversity and inclusion. Despite challenges such as stereotypes, biases, and cultural conflicts, effective cross-cultural group discussion can lead to enhanced creativity, innovation, and global competitiveness.


Bostrom, R. P., & Anson, R. (2019). Group communication in context: Studying bona fide groups in action. Routledge.

Brouwer, S., & Trompenaars, F. (2017). Cultural dimensions and group decision-making: A study of Dutch and Chinese students. Cross Cultural Management: An International Journal, 24(4), 523-540.

Gelfand, M. J., Erez, M., & Aycan, Z. (2017). Cross-cultural organizational behavior. Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior, 4, 1-27.

Li, X., & Zhang, L. (2018). The effect of cultural diversity on team performance: Evidence from Beijing Olympic Games. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 72, 99-107.

Brouwer, P. J., & Trompenaars, F. (2017). Cross-cultural business behavior: Marketing, negotiating, and managing across cultures. Routledge.

Gudykunst, W. B., & Ting-Toomey, S. (1988). Culture and interpersonal communication. Sage Publications.

Hall, E. T. (1976). Beyond culture. Anchor Press.

Hofstede, G. (2011). Dimensionalizing cultures: The Hofstede model in context. Online readings in psychology and culture, 2(1), 1-26.

Hofstede, G. (1980). Culture’s Consequences: International Differences in Work-Related Values. Sage publications.

Kapoor, C., & Solomon, N. (2011). Enhancing creativity through cross-cultural interactions. Journal of International Management, 17(4), 280-291.


Livermore, D. (2018). Leading with cultural intelligence: The real secret to success (3rd ed.). AMACOM.

Wang, H.C., Fussell, S.F. and Setlock, L.D., 2009, April. Cultural difference and adaptation of communication styles in computer-mediated group brainstorming.

In Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on human factors in computing systems (pp. 669-678).

I'm Ruwanthi from Sri Lanka. Now I'm living in Tampere.

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