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The bright side of social categorization: The role of global identity in reducing relational conflict in multicultural distributed teams

Raveh Harush (The Graduate School of Business Administration, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan, Israel)
Alon Lisak (Department of Management, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel)
Ella Glikson (Department of Management, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel)

Cross Cultural & Strategic Management

ISSN: 2059-5794

Article publication date: 1 September 2017

Issue publication date: 30 January 2018

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Abstract

Purpose

Using social categorization perspective, the purpose of this paper is to explore the effect of global identity, perceived proximity, and team interdependence on relational conflict in multicultural distributed teams.

Design/methodology/approach

Participants were 317 MBA students in 83 multicultural distributed project teams. Structural equation modeling and bootstrap methods were used to test the study model.

Findings

The results demonstrate that the indirect effect of global identity on relational conflict, through the pathway of perceived proximity, is moderated by team interdependence. More specifically, global identity leads to higher perceived proximity and lower relational conflict levels under low, rather than high, interdependence levels.

Research limitations/implications

The particular study context (multicultural distributed MBA student project teams) may limit the extent of the generalization of the findings.

Practical implications

The findings presented here can help practitioners in global organizations to defuse relational conflicts in multicultural distributed teams by embracing a global cultural approach and relying on shared global identity in team building, personnel selection, and development. Additionally, managers should be conscientious when they use the practice of facilitating interdependence between team members and assess the need for other interventions.

Originality/value

This study advances multicultural distributed team research by highlighting the role of global identity in reducing relational conflict, identifying the mediation mechanism of perceived proximity, and the boundary conditions of team interdependence levels under which this attenuation effect prevails.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors wish to cordially thank Miriam Erez for her valuable contribution to this study. All authors contributed equally to the writing of this manuscript.

Citation

Harush, R., Lisak, A. and Glikson, E. (2018), "The bright side of social categorization: The role of global identity in reducing relational conflict in multicultural distributed teams", Cross Cultural & Strategic Management, Vol. 25 No. 1, pp. 134-156. https://doi.org/10.1108/CCSM-11-2016-0202

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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