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Why Your Global Team Can’t Collaborate An interview with Dr. Karine Schomer By Carol Kinsey Goman If you’ve managed global projects, with team members from different cultures, you’ve probably encountered a number of differences that have presented challenges-because every culture has rules that its members take for granted, and those unwritten rules affect how we think and act in business.  In some cultures, for example, personal bonds and informal agreements are far more binding than any formal contract. In others, the meticulous wording of legal documents is viewed as paramount. High-context cultures leave much of the message unspecified – to be understood through context, nonverbal cues, and between-the-lines interpretation of what is actually said. By contrast, low-context cultures (most of the Germanic or English-speaking countries) expect messages to be explicit and specific. The former are looking for meaning and understanding in what is not said – in body language, in silences and pauses, and in relationships and empathy. The latter place emphasis on sending and receiving accurate messages directly, and by being precise with spoken or written words.  Since many cultural challenges are rightfully attributed to communication issues, you’ve probably tried to resolve them by establishing better communication tools, guidelines and protocols. But if the collaboration process is still problematic, and it’s costing you in terms of missed deadlines, product defects, service errors, and general team tension, you might need to dig deeper.  That’s where Dr. Karine Schomer comes in. A former professor of South Asian Studies at the University of California-Berkeley and Dean at Golden Gate University-San Francisco, she is a cross-cultural management consultant and executive coach to global project teams, with special expertise relating to India.  Last year, I spoke on “The Power of Collaborative Leadership” in seven different countries, and I always included a section on dealing Personal Excellence essentials presented by HR.com | 11.2014 Submit your Articles 17


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