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The positive role of global leaders in enhancing multicultural team innovation

Abstract

This study contributes to the empirical research on leadership of multicultural teams from the Positive Organizational Scholarship perspective (POS). Following the information/decision-making processes perspective on team cultural diversity, we examined the positive effect of leaders’ global identity, on multicultural team innovation. We proposed that R&D, multicultural team leaders with high global identity foster team-shared innovation goals and motivate team members to adopt communication inclusion behavior, making sure that they all understand each other. Furthermore, we propose that the effect of fostering team shared innovation goals on communication inclusion will be stronger for teams with perceived high, rather than low, cultural diversity and that team communication inclusion will positively affect team innovation. Participants were 574 R&D multicultural team members, their leaders, and their leaders’ managers in 82 co-located teams in a Chinese branch of a large, German global organization. Using SEM analysis, our findings supported our research model, demonstrating that multicultural team leaders with high global identity leveraged cultural diversity to promote innovative goals, which further enhanced team communication inclusion and its positive impact on team innovation. We discuss the theoretical and practical implications to the POS perspective on cultural diversity.

Résumé

Cette étude contribue à la recherche empirique sur le leadership des équipes multiculturelles dans la perspective de la « Positive Organizational Scholarship » (POS). En nous appuyant sur la perspective des processus de l’information/prise de décision sur la diversité culturelle des équipes, nous avons étudié l’effet positif de l’identité globale des leaders sur l’innovation des équipes multiculturelles. Nous avons proposé que les leaders d’équipes multiculturelles en R&D avec une identité globale forte favorisent les objectifs d’innovation partagée par l’équipe et motivent les membres de l’équipe à adopter un comportement intégrant la communication, s’assurant qu’ils se comprennent tous mutuellement. Par ailleurs, nous postulons que l’effet de faciliter des objectifs d’innovation partagée par l’équipe sur l’intégration de la communication sera plus fort pour les équipes avec une diversité culturelle perçue élevée, plutôt que faible, et que l’intégration de la communication d’équipe va influencer positivement l’innovation d’équipe. Les participants sont 574 membres d’équipes multiculturelles en R&D, leurs leaders et les managers de leurs leaders dans 82 équipes localisées dans la succursale chinoise d’un grand groupe global allemand. Utilisant un modèle d’équations structurelles, nos résultats valident notre modèle de recherche, montrant que les leaders d’équipes multiculturelles avec une identité globale forte valorisent la diversité culturelle pour promouvoir les objectifs d’innovation, qui ont par ailleurs amélioré l’intégration de la communication d’équipe et son impact positif sur l’innovation d’équipe. Nous discutons les contributions théoriques et managériales à la perspective POS sur la diversité culturelle.

Resumen

Este estudio contribuye a la investigación empírica en equipos multiculturales desde la perspectiva del « Positive Organizational Scholarship » (POS). Siguiendo la perspectiva de los procesos de información/toma de decisiones en diversidad cultural en equipos, examinamos los efectos positivos en la identidad global de los líderes, en la innovación en equipos multiculturales. Proponemos que la I+D, lideres de equipos multiculturales con alta identidad global promueven metas de innovación compartidas por el equipo y motivan a los miembros del equipo a adoptar comportamientos de comunicación incluyente, asegurando que se entienden entre ellos. Además, proponemos que el efecto de promover metas de innovación compartidas por el equipo en comunicación incluyente será más fuerte en equipos percibidos como altos, en lugar de bajos, diversidad cultural y que la comunicación incluyente del equipo afectará positivamente la innovación del equipo. Los participantes fueron 574 miembros de equipos multiculturales de I+D, sus líderes, y los gerentes de sus líderes en 82 equipos ubicados en una misma subsidiaria china de una gran, organización global alemana. Usando análisis SEM, nuestros hallazgos apoyan nuestro modelo investigativo, demostrando que los lideres de equipos multiculturales con una identidad global alta apalancan diversidad cultural para promover metas innovadoras, las cuales aumentan la comunicación incluyente del equipo e impacta positivamente la innovación del equipo. Discutimos las implicaciones teóricas y practicas a la perspectiva POS de diversidad cultural.

Resumo

Este estudo contribui para a pesquisa empírica sobre liderança de equipes multiculturais a partir da perspectiva acadêmica organizacional positiva (POS). De acordo com a perspectiva de processos de informação/tomada de decisão sobre a diversidade cultural da equipe, nós examinamos o efeito positivo da identidade global dos líderes, na inovação de equipes multiculturais. Propusemos que P & D, líderes de equipes multiculturais com elevada identidade global promovem objetivos de inovação compartilhados pela equipe e motivam os membros da equipe a adotar um comportamento de inclusão da comunicação, certificando-se que todos se entendem mutuamente. Além disso, nós propomos que o efeito de promover metas de inovação compartilhadas pela equipe sobre a inclusão de comunicação será mais forte para equipes com alta, e não baixa, diversidade cultural percebida, e que a inclusão da comunicação da equipe vai afetar positivamente sua inovação. Os participantes foram 574 membros de equipes multiculturais de P & D, seus líderes e os gerentes de seus líderes em 82 equipes localizadas em uma filial chinesa de uma grande organização global alemã. Usando análise SEM, nossos achados suportaram nosso modelo de pesquisa, demonstrando que líderes de equipes multiculturais com elevada identidade global alavancaram a diversidade cultural para promover objetivos inovadores, que posteriormente aprimoraram a inclusão da comunicação na equipe e o impacto positivo na inovação da equipe. Nós discutimos as implicações teóricas e práticas para a perspectiva POS sobre a diversidade cultural.

概要

这项研究有助于基于积极组织学术(POS)视角的多元文化团队领导力的实证研究。跟随关于团队文化多元性的信息/决策制定过程视角, 我们检验了领导者的全球认同对多元文化团队创新的正向效应。我们提议, R&D、有高度全球认同的多元文化团队领导者培养了团队共享的创新目标, 并且激发了团队成员采取沟通包含行为, 确保他们都理解彼此。此外, 我们提议培养团队共享创新目标对沟通包含的效应对感知高, 而非低的文化多元性的团队会更强, 团队沟通包含会正向影响团队创新。参与者是一家大型德国全球组织在中国分公司的82个共处一地团队的574名多元文化团队成员、他们的领导, 以及他们领导的管理者。使用SEM分析, 我们的研究结果支持了我们的研究模型, 证明高全球认同的多元文化团队领导者利用文化多样性促进创新目标, 这进一步增强了团队沟通包含和它对团队创新的正向影响。我们讨论POS视角看待文化多样性的理论和实践启示。

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Acknowledgments

This study was supported by the SHRM Foundation (Grant No. 164). The interpretations, conclusions and recommendations are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the SHRM Foundation. The survey was supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China Grants (Grant No. 71232002). We thank Guest Editor Guenter Stahl and the three anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments. We thank Etti Doveh and Ayala Cohen for their statistical assistance and Ella Glikson for her help in data collection.

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Correspondence to Yang Sui.

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Accepted by Guenter Stahl, Guest Editor, 20 April 2016. This article has been with the authors for three revisions.

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Lisak, A., Erez, M., Sui, Y. et al. The positive role of global leaders in enhancing multicultural team innovation. J Int Bus Stud 47, 655–673 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41267-016-0002-7

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Keywords

  • innovation and R&D
  • leadership theories
  • organizational behavior
  • structural equation modeling