Finding the Right Mix: How the Composition of Self-managing Multicultural Teams’ Cultural Value Orientation Influences Performance Over Time

Chi-Ying CHENG, Singapore Management University


This research investigates a new type of team that is becoming prevalent in global work settings, namely self-managing multicultural teams. We argue that challenges that arise from cultural diversity in teams are exacerbated when teams are leaderless, undermining performance. A longitudinal study of multicultural master of business administration study teams found that in the early stage of team formation, teams with a low average level of, but moderate degree of variance in, uncertainty avoidance performed best. Four months post formation, however, teams with a high average level of relationship orientation performed better than teams with a low average level of relationship orientation. Furthermore, a moderate degree of variance in relationship orientation among team members produced better team performance than a low or high degree of variance. These findings suggest that different cultural value orientations exert different patterns of effects on the performance of self-managing multicultural teams, depending on the stage of team formation. We discuss implications for the composition of self-managing multicultural teams and its influence on team processes and performance.