When we speak of collaboration, we are referring to teamwork, partnership, or an alliance of two or more groups. Collaboration is a process of working hand in hand with others. Collaboration does not mean that individuals have got rid of differences from one another. It involves more of discussing the differences and working out these differences as a group.
Understanding Cross-Cultural Collaboration
Individuals with varying cultural backgrounds working together are doing a cross-cultural collaboration. By this, we mean an alliance across cultures. So cross-cultural collaboration is a process where a group of individuals with different cultures work jointly with each other on a common goal.
States collaborate with each other in working on nationwide programs and international goals. Even ethnic sub-cultures create collaboration despite the differences in values, beliefs, attitudes, and ideas.
To be clear about the concept, cross-cultural collaboration is different from cultural diversity or cultural sensitivity in a way that the former is not within the cultural entity but between or among cultures.
Say, if an international business collaborates with another international group, this partnership is coming from two culturally diverse groups seeking to produce cooperation and teamwork out of these diversities. It strengthens the value of each cultural group while promoting understanding.
It is normal in a collaboration to have a dominant culture where one group tends to rule over the other. Experts call this assimilation, which means giving up your own cultural values and adapting that of others as a means of survival.
No one individual or cultural group would probably want their established values, beliefs, and customs to simply just dissolve. In the assimilation process, individuals in the minority cultural group also share their traits to the new society.
Successful Cross-Cultural Collaboration Tips
Ethnic or cultural group take simpler steps in cross-cultural interaction to collaborate with another culture.
When working with people across cultures, it is prudent to have a sense of consciousness or mindfulness in behavior and perceptions.
Be aware of how your reaction might affect or create an impact to others. Consider differing ideas and be open to them. Brought about by cultural orientations, each group may either have similar or contrasting opinions, just as how it is in your own culture.
In a collaboration of various cultures, try as much as possible not to engage in debates or arguments. It may be too personal for other people, especially to a collectivist culture. A very important thing to do when working with other cultures is to observe closely how they seem to interact with each other and how they deal with things.
In addition, you must have cultural self-awareness in order to understand cultural differences and develop cultural sensitivity to other people’s thoughts and emotions. They say you have to know and understand yourself first before you can understand other people and vice-versa.
In sharing viewpoints, avoid prejudices and biases. Learn how to normalize diversity by bringing a topic to the table that can arouse diverse opinions. This way, they will take interest in sharing their own cultural beliefs and opinions.
Lastly, understand that values are basis for decision-making in most cultures. For instance, Americans value time while other cultures value relationships.
Cross-Cultural Collaboration Myths
There are certain false assumptions about cross-cultural collaboration. One myth states that through membership in a cultural group, an individual is able to deal with others of that society with cultural competence. It may be possible but it will take time since culture is learned, and knowing that learning an established culture by heart is challenging, a cultural group may not immediately take into consideration the competence of an assimilated individual.
Another allegory is that it is not reasonable to create working relationships with minor ethnic or cultural groups because of their increasing population. Well, that is why there is cross-cultural collaboration. That a single minority group can represent the whole community is a myth. This is the reason why sub-cultures exist. Even if one large community consists of smaller cultural groups, not one group can be a representative of the bigger community because there are still existing cultural differences in each group.