Intercultural Teams

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Fact Box
Module Web and Cooperation
Siegfried Stumpf
Credits Term 3, Term 4
Term Term 2
Course is not required
Current course page Winter 2017
Active Yes

The Big Idea

Due to globalisation and internationalisation for all kind of organisations like businesses (trading, production, services etc.), institutions (e.g. government, associations, science) regardless of their size and orientation (e.g. profit-oriented, non profit-oriented) international activities are in many cases a matter of fact nowadays. This process can be observed in two directions. On the one hand more and more German and European enterprises expand their activities to foreign countries outside of Europe (especially with focus on Asia). On the other hand the evolvement of foreign subsidiaries and takeovers of German and European companies by foreign owners is detectable.

Also it can be seen that because of the increasing complexity of processes in product and service development and also caused by the more and more required speed in „time-to-market“ the fruitfull working together in project teams is essential to reach quicker results of high quality. Of course in IT industry working in projects is the predominant working style.

Promoted by an increasing mobility of human capital (e.g. caused by major political changes and opening of certain markets like e.g. China) there is still a strong necessity to deal with many differences in culture, working style, ethics etc. which have to be taken in to consideration in spite of web usage and increasing worldwide communication. Online communication can even increase the difficulties to consider cultural differences[1] because it is e.g. difficult to express gestures, facial expressions and emotions by digital communication.

The course „Intercultural Communication“ shall figure out these challenges in some detail, sensibilise students for intercultural aspects in teamwork and provide some useful information which might improve understanding and behaviour in crititcal intercultural situations.

Intended Learning Outcomes

After attending this course students should be able to:

  • Have an understanding of important terms and expression in the field of international and intercultural business communication.
  • Know about classical studies and concepts as well as recents empirical studies on intercultural communication.
  • Detect important elements of intercultural communication with special focus on online communication.
  • Know about major distinctions of intercultural communication of different cultural regions or countries of the world.
  • Build up certain recommendations and guidelines for managing intercultural teams.

Structure of the Course


The introduction to this course reveals at first some facts and figures of internationalisation and globalisation which can be seen as reasons for the worldwide demand to deal with intercultural aspects in leadership and team management. The basic terminology and some basic concepts will be introduced. Finally the actual challenges of intercultural communication will be carved out.

Basic studies and concepts of intercultural management

To better understand the needs and specifics of intercultural teams it can be helpful to know about some "classical studies and concepts on intercultural management", which have been established by researchers like Hofstede, Hall or Trompenaar[2]. There is also some interesting new research and on the effectiveness of international teams[3] which shall be introduced and discussed in this part of the course[4].

Elements of intercultural communication

This chapter deals with some concrete elements which form a communication style within some certain cultural areas or countries. These elements are e.g. language, non verbal language[5], gender[6], Age, racial and ethical identities, a country's historical tradition, history or religious identities. In many countries class identity is important to consider in the business environment or other organisations. Within countries or areas national specifis are important and must be considered in line with national identities. The increasing use of web-baded communication leads to the necessity of focussing on characteristics of online communication (E-Mail, Intranet, Blogs, Communities etc.)

Examples of intercultural communication differences

In this section of the course certain important areas and countries of the world will be taken as examples for certain intercultural differences[7]. With respect to the time limitation of this course the countries resp. areas of Germany[8], India, China[9], Japan[10], Arabia, South America and USA will be examined.

Recommendations for managing intercultural teams

This chapter is dedicated to the developemt of concrete recommendation to improve work and communication processes in intercultural teams. Topics like education and training, leadership[11], selection of team members,team development, detection and solving of intercultural conflict and mediation[12] will be examined. There will also given some information on the posssible impact of a whole organization caused by incidents and behaviour in international teams.

Guidelines for communication in intercultural teams

The approach of this chapter will be very practice oriented. As result there will be guidelines on how to build up and hold international presentations, conduct intercultural meetings[13]. After considering telephony, the use of intercultural communication in new media like e-mails, web-based applications or teleconferencing will be figured out. Specially brought into focus will also be negotiation strategies[14] of people with different language [15] or cultural background and the specifics of intercultural project management.

Didactic Concept, Schedule and Assignments

The course is based on a blended learning concept that combines short lectures, self studies of students and online presence workshops (with video / audio examples and case studies). Each online workshop starts in seminarial form, in which the lecturer presents the subtopics of the specific workshop and gives information on the futher studies during this workshop. Students will have the opportunity to ask questions and open interactive discussions with the lecturer. During the online workshops most of the time students will work in small groups. There will be phases where the lecturer gives lectures of 30-45 minutes and other phases where these groups will work individually and afterwards present their individual group work results to the whole course audience in a plenary session. Selected questions, assumptions and hypotheses will then be discussed and clarified in order to create learnings for the whole group.

After a first introductory workshop on site, the subject is treated in three online workshops, that are supplemented by a wrap-up session on site. Online workshops are held on three evenings with a duration of three hours each.

Introductory lesson on site

The main purposes of the introductory lesson are the following:

  • To give an overview on the the objectives and the approach of this course and to point out conventions on how the lecturer and the students will work together and proceed in the course.
  • To introduce and explain facts and figures of internationalisation and globalisation which are prerequsites of the increasing demand of intercultural communication.
  • To introduce useful terminology and basic concepts which are needed to examine intercultural communication.aspects while proceeding in the course, e.g. terms like "communication", "management", "culture", "intercultural", "crosscultural" and "transcultural".
  • To figure out the challenges of intercultural communication in modern organisations.

Time Schedule for the course (who makes what when):

Literature List:

Informations concerning students´ presentations: Presentations take place during the Online-Session. Presentations have to be prepared and executed by small teams (typically 2 or 3 persons). Duration of each presentation: 25 Minutes (please keep close attention to this time limit). Each presentation is graded. Total grade = (Grade presentation + Grade written examination)/2. Here you find further information:

Article "A framework for analyzing and reflecting teamwork" (S. Stumpf)


1st Online workshop

Course room:

Passwort: MCs4lWK5

Slides Siegfried Stumpf:

Student Presentation - Andreas, William: Communication in intercultural teams

Student Presentation - Cagdas, Justin, Oliver: Conflict and Conflict Management in Intercultural Teams

Group Exercise "Team Values": Please send me your team results unter 20th November - we will discuss the results in our 2nd Online-Session. Here is your instruction:

If you need some support in order to generate team values, you can look at the Schwartz value inventary (see appendix of the following article; I add also a German version). Not all values in this inventary can be transferred to work teams, but some values may be important in teams. Here the Schwartz-Value-Materials:

2nd Online workshop

Slides Siegfried Stumpf:

Student Presentation

Student Presentation

Team results on exercise "group-value-consensus":

3rd Online workshop

Slides Siegfried Stumpf:

Student Presentation

Student Presentation

Wrap-up session on site

This on site workshop is dedicated to clarify open questions of the students, to reflect and summarize achievements of the online workshops, to discuss continuative aspects, deepen knowledge on selected subjects. The wrap-up session will also be used to better prepare students for the written examination (45 minutes).


The participants shall either prepare a seminar paper or to work out a case study in the field of Intercultural teams. Relevant topics and case studies can be chosen out of a selection that changes over time to capture latest academic discussions or real life examples of enterprises or institutions. The list is prepared by the responsible professor. The quality of the written elaboration (seminar paper or case study) is appraised by the professor and form 50 % of the final grade. During the wrap-up session a written examination of 45 minutes is to be passed, which contributes the other 50 % to the final grade.

Literature and documents for preparing the exam:

A) Slides (Complete Set of Slides: Slides Presentations Stumpf and Slides of students´presentations (abbreviated version))

B) Texts

c) More information on the exam


  1. "Gibson, Robert (May 20,2012). Coping with culture. 
  2. "Peng, Mike W. (2009). Global Business. South Western Cengage Learning, p. 61-68. 
  3. "Bertelsmann-Stiftung (May 20,2012). Intercultural competence – The key competence in the 21st century ?. 
  4. "Stumpf, Siegfried (2010). Intercultural Teams, in: Thomas, Alexander; Kinast, Eva-Ulrike; Schroll-Machl, Sylvia: Handbook Of Intercultural Communication And Cooperation. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, p. 301-312. 
  5. "Beatty, John; Takhashi, Junichi (2001). Intercultural Communication. Atomic Dog Publ.Co., pp. 69-87. 
  6. "Nakayama, Thomas K.; Halualani, Rona Tamiko (2007). The Handbook Of Critical Intercultural Communication. Wiley-Blackwell, eBook, URL: 
  7. "Mayer, Claus-Hélène, Boness, Christian Martin (2011). Managering Transcultural Conflicts In Organizations. Waxmann (DVD medium). 
  8. "Schroll-Machl, Sylvia (2010). Doing Business With Germans. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, p. 121-137 and p. 169-191. 
  9. "De Monte, Boyé Lafayette (2009). The Chinese Mind. Tuttle Publ., p. 33-51. 
  10. "Holliday, Adrian; Hyde, Martin; Kullmann, John (2010). The Chinese Mind. Routledge, eBook, URL:, p. 93-97. 
  11. "Stumpf, Siegfried (2011). Intercultural Leadership and Management, in: Intercultural Leadership and Management, in: Thomas, Alexander; Kinast, Eva-Ulrike; Schroll-Machl, Sylvia: Handbook Of Intercultural Communication And Cooperation. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, p. 287-300. 
  12. "Kammhuber, Stefan (2011). Intercultural Conflict Managment and Mediation, in: Intercultural Leadership and Management, in: Thomas, Alexander; Kinast, Eva-Ulrike; Schroll-Machl, Sylvia: Handbook Of Intercultural Communication And Cooperation. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, p. 264-271. 
  13. "Dignen, Bob; Chamberlain, James (2009). Intercultural Skills. Summertown Publishing, p.11-24 and p. 70-98. 
  14. "Varner, Iris; Beamer, Linda (2011). Intercultural Communication. McGraw Hill, p. 303-326 and p. 329-361. 
  15. "Martin, Judith N.; Nakayama, Thomas K. (2007). Intercultural Communication In Contexts. McGraw Hill, p. 210-249. 

Past Course Pages