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Working in culturally diverse teams: Team-level cultural intelligence (CQ) development and team performance

Marina Iskhakova (Research School of Economics, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia)
Dana L. Ott (Department of Management, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand)

Journal of International Education in Business

ISSN: 2046-469X

Article publication date: 27 January 2020

Issue publication date: 7 April 2020

3070

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate how working in culturally diverse teams influences team-level cultural intelligence (CQ) development and how team-level CQ influences performance. The use of culturally diverse work teams continues to grow within organizations, however, their relationships with team-level CQ are not well understood. CQ is a set of knowledge, skills and abilities that assist in adapting to new and unfamiliar cultural environments and when interacting in culturally diverse situations. At the individual-level, CQ has been demonstrated to positively impact multicultural teams but team-level CQ has rarely been examined to understand how it is developed and whether it impacts team performance.

Design/methodology/approach

This research uses a quantitative methodology and a longitudinal research design to test two sets of hypotheses. Set 1 of the hypothesis tested the development of team-level CQ after working in culturally diverse teams, and Set 2 tested the influence of team-level CQ on team performance.

Findings

Data from 23 teams (86 individual participants) support the hypothesis that working in culturally diverse teams develops team-level CQ. In addition, partial support for the hypotheses that team CQ will positively influence academic performance is demonstrated.

Research limitations/implications

The research contributes to the CQ literature by lifting the level of analysis from the individual to a team-level to consider team-level effects. The authors conclude that working in culturally diverse teams develops team-level CQ overtime. Once team-level CQ has been developed, the authors demonstrated a positive relationship between the motivational facet and team academic performance. Thus, when considering the influence of team-level CQ on performance, it is important to consider the relationship with each of the CQ facets. Few studies have considered how team-level CQ impacts team performance outcomes, and based on the results the authors would suggest additional research that continues to unpack the CQ construct into its constituent parts.

Practical implications

The results have important practical implications with respect to the development of team-level CQ. Based on the results, the authors support the use of highly culturally diverse teams in business schools for the development of skills because they provide the opportunity for team members to learn from each other. The use of CQ, CQ development and performance relationships provides important insights into how individuals, particularly students, can learn from each other when working in culturally diverse teams about other cultures and then bring this knowledge with them when working in academic teams.

Social implications

As an important practical social implication, an opportunity to work in cross-cultural teams during international business studies could be considered as an “equalizer” for students who cannot afford to study abroad given the time consuming and costs aspects. So, cross-cultural teamwork could be considered in a wider extent by different business schools worldwide. Additionally, cross-cultural teamwork exposes students to intense interactions with different races and cultures during their study period and makes graduates significantly more work-ready.

Originality/value

This research contributes to the CQ literature by lifting the level of analysis to consider team-level effects and has important implications for the development and outcomes of team-level CQ.

Keywords

Citation

Iskhakova, M. and Ott, D.L. (2020), "Working in culturally diverse teams: Team-level cultural intelligence (CQ) development and team performance", Journal of International Education in Business, Vol. 13 No. 1, pp. 37-54. https://doi.org/10.1108/JIEB-11-2019-0052

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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