Essays on managing cultural impacts in multinational projects: Dissertation

Johanna Kuusisto

    Research output: ThesisDissertationMonograph

    Abstract

    Cultural differences have become more perceivable at the same time as national borders have become less relevant and economic systems more dependent on each other. Current concepts about culture do not seem to help in understanding the differences and their effects in practice. Despite the previous efforts within the project management discipline, a large variety of concepts and the lack of practical solutions are leading to disregarding especially the innovation potential arising from multiculturalism. This thesis consists of a summary and three essays, which are based on three research settings exploited in parallel in the essays. The first essay illustrates the variety of cultural conditions causing challenges between unified project practices and the flexibility of action in individual projects. The second essay reveals the tactics of Finnish project managers when navigating in multicultural project encounters, and the third essay depicts key elements of cross-cultural competence by comparing the differences between the approaches of masters and novices in culturally slanted project encounters. The first attribute and at the same time limitation associated with the concept of culture is nation, which often (almost always in daily conversation) is used as an equivalent to the word culture. National culture has been found to be obsolescent when managing cultural diversity in a multinational business environment, although it can sometimes be a relevant unit of analysis if linked to, for example, the political and legal institutions of the nation. The external variations of cultural spheres cause problems internally when applying the unified project process model and take attention away from external challenges. Secondly, culture is basically seen as causing only challenges, that is, having a negative influence. Especially on the level of an organisation the actions were directed to decrease or eliminate the possible problems. The individual project managers, on the other hand, saw diversity as more fine-grained and sought the subsequent opportunities. Thirdly, both cultural and project management knowledge are context related. The project manager should be able to change the approach if necessary in the situation at hand.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor Degree
    Awarding Institution
    • Aalto University
    Supervisors/Advisors
    • Tainio, Risto, Supervisor, External person
    • Kazi, Sami, Supervisor
    Award date26 Oct 2012
    Place of PublicationEspoo
    Publisher
    Print ISBNs978-951-38-7471-1 (soft back ed.), 978-951-38-7472-8 (PDF)
    Publication statusPublished - 2012
    MoE publication typeG4 Doctoral dissertation (monograph)

    Keywords

    • cultural diversity
    • project management
    • cross-cultural competence

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