This study has investigated the acts of 10 senior venture administrators chipping away at development ventures in the UAE with culturally diverse groups. Specific accentuation has been laid on the effect of society on undertaking administration, positive and negative effects of culturally diverse groups on task administration, with exceptional reference to time and expense requirements of ventures. The aim of this study is to investigate cultural factors affecting project managers and project management in the UAE, with particular reference to cross-cultural teams in the global construction industry. The discoveries recommend that time and expense imperatives are normal for all ventures crosswise over societies, and the undertaking administrator’s part is foremost for the successful execution of any task. It was further obvious that the way one conveys is diverse in multifaceted groups with some offering assurance to the composed and talked word while others to the implicit variables like outward appearances. Contrasts are all the more effortlessly determined in mono-social groups. Contrasting societies have changing standards, social behavior and task administration strategies that are obvious while overseeing activities with multifaceted groups.
The aim of this study is to investigate cultural factors affecting project managers and project management in the UAE, with particular reference to cross-cultural teams in the global construction industry. The study strives to achieve the following objectives:
⦁ Identify the key cultural factors affecting Project Managers and Project Management in construction projects in UAE
⦁ Identify cross-cultural differences in multicultural project teams in the construction industry and how they affect project management
⦁ Identify project management strategies that could be followed to eliminate negative repercussions of cross-cultural differences thereby ensuring project success
⦁ What are the key cultural factors?
⦁ How the cultural factors influence the Project Managers and Project Management teams engaged in the construction industry of UAE?
⦁ How the identified cross-cultural differences in multicultural project teams of construction industry impact the performance and team behaviour?
⦁ What strategic recommendations might be implemented to mitigate the negative effects of cross-cultural differences in project management teams?
Business skills focus on project managers’ accomplishing short-term tasks and achieving project goals. Planning, organizing, team supervision are some of the important business skills that a project manager should possess (Kerzner & Thamhain, 1984; Pettersen, 1991). Other skills include making effective decisions, delegating work and authority, tracking project progress and employee performance, estimating costs and risks, reducing changes, and managing contracts (Chen, 1997). Additionally, setting realistic goals, taking a holistic approach to the project, and considering environmental factors while making decisions are set forth as necessary skills for effective project management (Pettersen, 1991).
This study has explored the practices of 10 senior project managers working on construction projects in the UAE with cross-cultural teams. Particular emphasis has been laid on the impact of culture on project management, positive and negative impacts of cross-cultural teams on project management, with special reference to time and cost constraints of projects. A hypothetical conceptual framework has been proposed which proposes that conflict is prevalent in cross-cultural teams in projects, more than that in mono-cultural teams and this conflict can be effectively managed based upon three pillars viz. Effective communication, empathy and power sharing. This would in turn lead to building of trust in the project team, and this would lead to a more cohesive and effective team and thus reduce cost and time overruns in a project and lead to better and more successful project management. Hence, it can be revealed that culture plays a very important role within an organization of project management operating under the umbrella of the construction industry.
The findings suggest that time and cost constraints are common for all projects across cultures, and the project manager’s role is paramount for the effective implementation of any project. It was further evident that the way one communicates is different in cross-cultural teams with some giving credence to the written and spoken word while others to the unspoken variables like facial expressions. Differences are more easily resolved in mono- cultural teams. Differing cultures have varying norms, social etiquette and project management techniques that are apparent while managing projects with cross-cultural teams. While it is largely conceded that cross-cultural teams have both positive and negative impacts, positive impacts are fewer and relate to mainly the use of varied experiences and innovation in project management. Among the negative impacts are that communication and management are more complex, and remote teams add to the problem. Personal issues may also come to the fore. It was predominantly agreed that cross-cultural teams have almost no positive effect on the cost and time constraints of a project. It was largely agreed that time and cost enhancement may occur In teams with cross-cultural team members due to various reasons. Also, project managers of cross-cultural teams require enhanced soft skills and may lead to lower trust among members. Communication emerged as the most important factor in managing any team, especially cross-cultural teams. Establishing clear communication lines at the planning stage itself would lead to more effective communication and thus more effective project management. It emerged that stepping into the shoes of a team member to solve his or her problems can be an effective conflict and problem dissipating tool. If a team member adopts the leadership style demanded by his/her team members, it leads to empathy and more effective leadership. Sharing responsibility for team decision making and action is another important tool to positively enhance the project management experience and can lead to team involvement, cohesion and collectivism, all indispensable to build trust and improve team performance. Also apparent is the fact that the team manger’s role is paramount, and his/her skill-set and experience can lead to better team performance and successful project implementation in cross-cultural teams. However, all is not lost due to cross-cultural teams in project management. There is a glimmer of hope that cross-cultural teams may bring fresh ideas and new approaches to project implementation. Hence, cross culture offers a significant impact on the behavior and knowledge base of the members of the organization. Doing so, helps to increase the productivity and efficiency of the teammates resulting in improvement of varied types of ideas and facts. All such inventive ideas might enhance the success of the organization involved in the industry of construction.
While the study focuses on ten project managers of construction projects in the UAE, a larger sample would have been more representative of the population. Also, the study is constrained by being confined to UAE construction projects. There is a possibility that the findings may not be true in other nations/cultures and may have to be modified for smaller projects or less experienced project managers. However, at the same time it is true that cross cultural teams are more likely to be found today for large engineering construction projects only and also that cross cultural teams are more likely to be assigned to experienced project managers only. This may not be true in times to come as globalization is increasing by the day through international business and recreational travel, not to mention the stupendous popularity of the internet. Remote teams are likely to be the norm in the future. It is in this context that, that this study assumes more importance. It is increasingly apparent that ignorance of cultural differences can lead to negative outcomes for the project manager and the project. Therefore, it is important to be aware of these issues, and then management or the nucleus of a project team can take measures to overcome any hindrances. While there is enough literature on the effect of culture on project teams and leadership in project management there appears to be a gap in the research on how cross-cultural teams behave when in a project and what measure can be taken to enhance the performance of cross-cultural teams in projects, especially construction projects. There is thus a need that there be more research on the enhancing the effectiveness of cross-cultural teams in projects and awareness of the subtle differences between nations and their respective cultures. This is extremely important for improving relationships and cohesiveness in project teams leading to the building of trust and thus more effective project management. There is also a need for training project managers on cross- cultural issues so that they become more effective project managers. While there is no shortage of cultural or leadership theories there needs to be the inclusion of this theory in training for project managers. Involvement of the members of the team with diverse culture and norms is essential so as to increase the efficiency and expertise of the individual. This may enhance the portfolio and reputation of the organizations of project management of construction industry effectively as compared to many other contending players.