Sustainable learning and change in international teams:from imperceptible behaviour to rigorous practice

This paper outlines the authors' experience of working with international cross-cultural teams, and is an attempt to address the question about how international organizations can give rise to a sustainable capability in which generations of teams build on each other's experience. The paper outlines some of the behavioural dynamics, both constructive and destructive that seem to occur in international teams, and focuses on ways of working through the destructive dynamics. The paper suggests that sustainable learning can happen when organizations and teams engage with the "cultural whirlpool" that their internal diversity creates; when they maintain ongoing cross-cultural conversations which bring cultural differences and understandings alive; and where they engage with the strategic moments that are afforded by their emotional and relational dynamics.

Heimer, C. & Vince, R. (2006) Sustainable learning and change in international teams:from imperceptible behaviour to rigorous practice, Managing Diversity, Module for the ILO Management and Leadership Development Programme (MLDP), International Labour Organisation, Geneva

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