Are cultural misinterpretations hampering the completion of complex international projects?

As the economy is becoming more global in nature, increasingly companies have to handle projects on an international level. This may be because the businesses involved operate in international markets, it may be that products and services are being outsourced from various international markets or for a whole range of strategic reasons. Consequently people from different cultures have to communicate with each other, often over long distances.

Naturally modern technology, and particularly travel, video conferencing and the internet, has made communications across borders over long distances possible. For communications to be effective, however, a common code is also required – the English language is often assumed (unfairly). Good communications also requires that we understand each other at a deeper cultural level. Books and case studies have been written about cultural misunderstandings, indeed they happen all the time.

In order for businesses to be effective they need to tackle the sometimes hidden issues which are hampering smooth communications and therefore slowing down or even halting international projects and operations. While cultural misunderstandings can probably never be eliminated, they can be minimised by creating ways for us to respect other people’s beliefs and ways. Some of the issues or difficulties that may need to be tackled are: