Publication Date

1999

Abstract

This paper analyzes data about members of a multinational, multicultural organization, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Information about their knowledge of the concept of cultural differences is collected. The members' awareness of their own national cultural behaviors is also explored. This data is gathered in order to address the need for a cultural awareness training component for all members. The training would focus on understanding the impact of national cultural differences on teamwork. It would equip members with skills to engage in more effective intercultural communication. The specific research question is: What are the primary challenges to effective intercultural communication within the OSCE in Albania? The sub-questions are: What problems result from a lack of cultural awareness? How can these problems be resolved to create more effective communication? Analysis of the data yields several conclusions. National cultures do have characteristics specific to them. These may include patterns of speech, styles of communication, and the concept of time. Members of multicultural teams may experience unique difficulties without recognizing these national cultural differences. The need for cultural awareness training is recommended for teaching skills of successful intercultural communication. National cultural differences are the focus of this paper, although the skills learned for recognizing and understanding national differences apply to other cultural groups such as class and professional cultures. Through the use of questionnaires, interviews and observation, this paper examines the OSCE members' knowledge of the concept of cultural awareness and their current behavior. Every team faces challenges, but multicultural teams are especially vulnerable to misunderstandings. With cultural awareness training, the problems highlighted in this paper can be significantly reduced.

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