Predictors of Perceived Differences and Distances

Main Purpose

Research has effectively demonstrated that individual attitudes and perceptions may affect team dynamics and performance. Hence, it is important to understand and predict individual attitudes and perceptions about international cooperation and cultural differences. Perceptions about differences/similarities among members of international teams is one those attitudes that may have a significant effect on what team members expect from their team, how members of the team approach one another, how they interact, and ultimately perform as a team. Using longitudinal data on 200+ teams with 1,000 + team members, the study explores antecedents of perceptions about differences/similarities among representatives of different cultures and perceived difficulties/ease of working with representatives of different cultures. The study participants are business students who worked together for about two months in virtual teams of 3-6 students in 2010-1011 school year. Student from over 20 countries participated in the project, with a total of 3-5 countries represented on each team. Initial attitudes and perceptions were collected before the project started and then again the same data were collected after the completion of the project. Additionally, data on respondent demographics, country or origin and country of studies, and prior international experience were collected. Also, team dynamics and performance were assessed based on peer evaluations, team member comments, quality of the team reports, the ability of the team to meet deadlines, and the like. The data were analyzed using HLM. The results are discussed with the focus on managerial implications, in particular with respect to selection and perception management.



Basic Research Questions              

“What predict individual perceptions about cultural differences? (In your opinion, how similar/different are the following two cultures)?

What predict individual perceptions about difficulties/ease of working with foreigners? (In your opinion, how difficult/easy would it be to work together for the people from the following two cultures)?

–              Demographics (age, gender, etc.)?

–              Actual economic, politic, religious, language differences among the countries?

–              Prior international experience as a student, resident, immigrant in a foreign country?

–              How do perceptions change as people work representatives of other countries, experience of being on the same team with foreigners? (E.g., after working with internationals, do people see different countries as more similar or more different?)


–              Does the country of origin/studies matter? Do people from some countries evaluate some country pairs differently than people from other countries do? Are there systemic biases? (E.g., do people from China see difference between China and the US differently than people from Honduras do?)

–              Do experiences during the collaboration project affect the change in perceptions? (E.g., are changes in perceptions of members of the teams that did well – few conflicts, high performance, high grade – are different than those on the teams that didn’t perform well?)


Lead Author: Vas Taras

Status:   dormant, needs a fresh start