Interesting post. Thanks for the perspective and for garnering my interest.
I have only recently been thinking about this and, hence, this comes at an auspicious time for me. My thinking, admitttedly, relates more to a purely American perspective and regards the challenges that I face frequently in putting together teams on new projects; but recently and unexpectedly it took on a slightly global perspective from an unexpected source: my daughter.
My daughter, age 12, began attending a private secondary school this year and there are two twin boys from the UK that are in her group. The boys have been here in the US for a couple of years and expect to be here for many more (perhaps permanently).
There are, of course, the usual interesting and differing language differences that amuse and intrigue the kids. But my daughter noted a more profound challenge that prompted a long discussion between her and myself regarding the cultural differences.
The essence of the discussion related to the challenges the two boys face when trying to be a part of the young kids' culture and to good-naturedly "fit in" with the gentle teasing that goes on. My daughter's comment was that sometimes the boys "over do it" and their teasing takes on too strong or offensive a note.
That led to a discussion of how much one's culture framework guides our behavior and can, in unexpected (and even undesired) ways cause us to err when it doesn't fit with a different culture.
She was intrigued and had some truly impressive insights and ideas about how to help them and was surprisingly sensitive to how hard it would be for her to fit into what their cultural framework might be.
She noted that a lot of folks think that just learning the language and dialects is enough; but she correctly surmised that such is only the beginnig and that tolerance and allowance for the effects of the cultural framework is even more important.
That made me think of my own challenges of team formation. Your comments on the "other dimensions" beyond just the ones that Geert Hofstede, IBM, posed, were especially enlightening; they added a lot of important and good thoughts to my own ruminations. The cultural framework (whether from multi-national cultures or even multi-regional cultures within just one country), in my experience, even reaches beyond just team interactions; it also has a surprisingly (at least to me) strong effect on the technical work such as the approaches and paradigms that each programmer utilizes in their individual contributions to the team effort. That difference makes it especially challenging for us to integrate the works of the team memebers into a harmonious "common voice" result.
Thanks for the post and for giving me a lot more focus and voice to my own wonderings.
ack Albuquerque, NM