Cross-Cultural Challenges in Product Realization Process

Abstract: With increased global competition, companies need to diversify their product realization process to gain advantages offered by different geographical areas. However, different cultural backgrounds of people and companies situated around the world can lead to challenges in crosscultural collaboration. Taking into account the whole product realization process, this thesis focuses on the three main areas of the product realization research field: product development, product introduction, and production ramp-up/serial production. The aim is to identify crosscultural challenges in the product realization process and contribute to knowledge on possible strategies facilitating a cross-cultural collaboration.This thesis is based on a qualitative research approach. First, a systematic literature review was conducted to explore the research field and gain more understanding regarding challenges in cross-cultural human collaboration. Then, case study methodology was adopted to explore cross-cultural transfer of management concepts and possible strategies to facilitate crosscultural human collaboration.Results reveal that cross-cultural challenges exist both directly, when people from different cultural backgrounds work together, and indirectly, when management concepts are transferred across cultural contexts. In the case of human collaboration, different cultures lead to crosscultural challenges such as misunderstanding, tensions at work, difficulties in communication and knowledge transfer as well as a mismatch in resource planning and control. Regarding transfer of management concepts, there is a cultural imprint in management concepts causing challenges when they are implemented in a different culture. However, this is a two-way adaptation in which both the organization and some principles of the management concepts can be adapted to better fit with each other during the implementation process.The study also suggests that Quality Management is a possible strategy to mitigate crosscultural challenges in human collaboration. Quality Management may serve as a guideline to establish working procedures to facilitate collaboration and help employees overcome cultural boundaries.

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