People who are assigned to inter-cultural teams often begin working closely with a group of new team members, and the welfare of the new group tends to displace the welfare of the individual as the team attempts to build cohesiveness and a sense of interdependence. (Wellins, 1990, 76)
As with self-management, the use of teams in the workplace also may best be thought of as lying on a continuum. At one end, teams with a low degree of interdependence consist of employees who rarely see each other and perform their tasks without exchanging information or materials.
At the other end of the continuum, teams with a high degree of task interdependence consist of employees who frequently interact and constantly exchange materials and information to complete their tasks.1 On a highly interdependent team, successful task accomplishment obviously depends greatly on the interaction of employees. Our definition of a inter-cultural teams, however, implies very little variation. Thus, we assume that resistance to inter-cultural teams is, essentially, resistance to interdependent teams.
The resistance to inter-cultural teams can be due to a person's philosophy about teamwork rather than to his or her views on particular task characteristics (such as a task's degree of self-management).
For example, when introduced to the idea of inter-cultural teams, an i...
Thus, an employee's philosophy about working in a highly interdependent fashion, rather than in an independent manner, may be a key factor in determining that individual's support of, or resistance to, inter-cultural teams. (Adler, 1997, 117)
Collectivism versus individualism
When people value the welfare of the group more than the welfare of the individual, they are called "collectivists." Hofstede defines "collectivism" as a tight social framework in which a person's "identity is based in the social system" and his or her "belief is placed in group decisions" (1980b: 48). People from collectivistic cultures tend to put aside their own self-interests in deference to the interests of their group.
For example, several studies have found that people in South Korea and Sweden (cultures that are highly collectivistic) disregard individual performance differences when determining employee rewards. Consistent with this, collectivists believe in cooperating rather than competing, following a group purpose rather than individual agendas, and promoting the welfare of the group over that of the individual members. In addition, people from collectivistic cultures fear being ostracized personally or bringing shame to their group for behavior not contributing to the welfare of the group.
Conversely, people in "individualistic" cultures tend to put forth and promote their own welfare over the interests of their group or organization (Hofstede, 1980a). People in the United Kingdom (a highly individualistic culture) had higher incidences of social loafing than did the Chinese (a highly collectivistic culture) when working on an interdependent group task. People in the United Kingdom also prefer reward distributions that