Cross-Cultural Teamwork Issues in Pacific Island Sustainability

By Norman Wright and Hadyn Bennett.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Issues of cultural, social, economic, and environmental sustainability have become increasingly significant in the Pacific Islands region of the world. While factors such as climate change present immediate and visible challenges to the region, it is also now subject to a host of economic, cultural and ecological forces, each of which presents its own challenges to a region where, for centuries, the outside world had little (if any) influence on the traditional and largely sustainable way of life.
Efforts to resolve such issues frequently involve international non-governmental organizations from the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand working with local islanders. Both groups bring to the table a wealth of knowledge and ideas that, when combined, create the possibility of effective movement towards a more sustainable future. As such teams work together, however, distinct cultural differences appear in the ways Pacific Islanders and Anglos approach team participation. This paper explores issues surrounding perceptions of conflict and voice within cross-cultural teams. The findings indicate that Pacific islanders tend to identify higher levels of argumentation within team settings than do their Anglo counterparts. Further, they are more likely than Anglos not to voice disagreement with the rest of the team in an effort, potentially, to preserve group harmony. The implications of these findings for the development and management of effective cross-cultural teams to tackle the challenges faced are discussed.

Keywords: Sustainable Development, Pacific Islands, Culture, Teamwork

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp.257-268. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.194MB).

Dr. Norman Wright

Professor, Management, College of Business, Alfaisal University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

While completing a Ph. D. in Management from Wharton, Dr. Wright accepted his first academic post with Brigham Young University Hawaii. He is currently a Professor of Management at Alfaisal University in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He has served as the Dean of the School of Business at the American University of Nigeria, and as a faculty member and administrator at Zayed University in Dubai, and the American University of Sharjah. In these programs he has worked extensively with multicultural groups of students from Asia, the Middle East, the Pacific islands, the Indian subcontinent, Africa, and North America. Norman has also been an active trainer, consultant, and personal coach in the United States and Middle East. His research focuses on cross-cultural teamwork and business in and around conservation areas.

Dr. Hadyn Bennett

Assistant Professor, Business School, University of Ulster, Belfast, UK

Dr. Hadyn Bennett has been lecturing in organizational behavior for the past 20 years, and has recently returned to the University of Ulster after working for the past three years as Assistant Professor of Management in Zayed University, Dubai. Holding a Ph. D. in Human Resource Management from Strathclyde University (United Kingdom), his research interests include group and team structure, organizational culture and person – organization fit. As well as teaching, Hadyn has worked extensively on consulting and training projects in both the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates.

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