Cultural Diversity In Human Relations Management Essay

Recently, one of the most significant current discussions is culture, especially the effect of culture in multinational environment. It is clear that Barinaga’s (2007) research is a significant exploration in this area, this essay will make a critical evaluation on Barinaga’s research, the critical evaluation will examine the advantage and limitation of the methodology of this research, investigate the feasibility and rationality of this research. In order to achieve this aim, this critical evolution has been organised in the following way. Firstly, this essay will provide a brief description about this research. Secondly, it will describe the main theoretical frameworks of this research. Thirdly, this essay will focus on the methodology of this research. Lastly, describe the distinctive content of this research and relate to personal learning experience make a final conclusion.

This research insight into organisation of multinational group works and investigates how international working projects organize. That is, the study how people in different culture and background corporate with each other in a multinational working environment. Previous studies have explored a broaden view of cultures, while this study focuses on the role played by the discourses on “national culture” and “cultural diversity” in the organising process of an international project (Barinaga, 2007: 321).

At the beginning of this article, the author introduced the research dominated by Ely and Thomas (2001). Ely and Thomas demonstrated that the cultural discourse of the group members is more influential than the actual variety of their countries of origin in the multinational group. However, they did not continue research the relevant point. This article used the term discourse in Foucauldian sense comes from Foucanlt (1980). And then, put the emphasis on what group members organized under the discourse on “national culture”. The author took the Barnes’s (1985) theory set the structural order in front of it from its position behind. Then, the author accepted the view that group members are reflexive actors accounting for what they do. This view comes from Garfinkel (1967). Furthermore, the author reconciled the Foucault’s view of discourse with Garfinkel’s approach, concluded that the discourse on “national culture” informs rather than determines the group members’ action, contributing to organize the international project while reproducing the effects of “national culture” (Barinaga, 2007: 318-319). From the theoretical framework of this research, it is clearly that the author of this research has gleaned a vast quantity of literature material before putting the research into practice. Nevertheless, it is too wordy on describing the basic theory and previous researches in the beginning of this article. In general, the theoretical framework of this research is significant and reasonable.

In the section of methodology of this article, Barinaga (2007) has adopted qualitative research approaches. For example, observation, focus group, interview. Specifically, the author took part in a seventeen months long international group project, collected data by herself and observed every work meeting and social event, took notes frantically. Moreover, for solving the problem of geographically dispersed and time fragmentation. The author used the e-mails to contact the group members to obtain the contexts. Furthermore, there are three steps in her analysis section: coding; re-read search for underlying themes and find the specific example or exceptions (Barinaga, 2007: 322-323).

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Data accuracy

Nature of qualitative research data requires high accuracy of data (Silverman, 2006: 55). Due to analysis approaches of qualitative research are subjective; less researchers helps increase data consistency and accuracy (Miller et al, 2009: 111). In this research, the author followed the group members wherever they met and took part in all workshop activities, took notes frantically and collected details.

Focus group

The author investigated the specific multinational group, and used this kind of qualitative research method can glean more data in less time. Moreover, because the group which the author has chosen is multinational and designed, therefore, the data come from this group is representative (Saunders et. al. 2009: 239).


Firstly, the author made an observation in the multinational group seventeen mouths. Therefore, it is more easily obtained the first hand information, moreover, the data which come from observation is more validity (DeWalt, 2002: 237). Secondly, the dual character made the author glean information which difficult to obtain, furthermore, found the problems at the beginning. Nevertheless, for keep the objective of the data, in the process of observation, the researcher should keep a distance from the respondents, and do not influence the objective of the data (Szarkowicz, 2006: 24).


This method can help the author got more potential data come from the interviewees. This research is put into an international project group; therefore, this premise determined that the research environment is complex and variational. In this kind of situation, the interview is a positive method to collect the data (Bryman & Bell 2007:474).

The method used to collect data

The author used the e-mail to contact with the group members, it save the money and time (Barinaga, 2007: 322). Moreover, this method can keep the continuity of data.

The process of analyse

Barinaga (2007) used coding to systemize the notes, written material and interview transcripts. This will make the data easier to understand and more structured (Saunders et. al. 2009: 423). On the second procedure, the author re-read the categorized with questions. On the third procedure, the author re-read the categorized for searching of the example and exceptions. All of this works will increase the rationality and validity of the data which collected in the research.


The time of the research

There is no explanation about the time of this research, why is seventeen mouths? Why is not one year or two year? There is no rational reason for the time of this research (Silverman, 2005: 43).

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Time fragmentation and geographical dispersion

Time fragmentation and geographical dispersion are the two main problems in research regarding multinational environment. In between workshops group members were geographically dispersed, and thus the contexts where they worked were inaccessible to the author (Jemielniak & Kociatkiewicz, 2009: 359). Though the author uses the e-mails to solve this problem, it will more or less have some negative influence on the continuity and objective of the data (Barinaga, 2007: 322).


Though the author claimed that she tried to keeping a distance and do not influence the behaviours of the respondents. Nevertheless, to be an interpreter of this multinational group, this kind of influence probably can not be avoided (Saunders et. al. 2009: 290).

In general, firstly, compare with other researches, Barinaga’s (2007) research provides some distinctive views. That is the emphasis of research is not focus on how the “national culture” and “cultural diversity” influences the performance of the multinational group, or the cultural factors lead to a better or worse group performance. The distinctive content of this research is that the author investigated how “national culture” and “cultural diversity” discourses shape the organizing process of a multinational group. Therefore, the emphasis of this research is on the process of the organization of the multinational group rather than on the performance of the multinational group. Secondly, the dimension of this research is enormous. It has spent seventeen mouths, has met five different cities, three different countries, and gathered a considerable amount of data to interpret and analyse. Hence, compared with other researches, this research is more intensively and meticulous. Thirdly, the finding of this research is interesting and easily to understanding. It is not just display the results or academic figures, but rather showed the notes of talk made by the respondents, sometimes this kind of informal language is easier to understand and accepted by the readers.

In conclusion, this research is very influential to my learning of the cross-cultural management. In my learning log, there is a tendency that make all of the problems of group’s development relate to the cultural reasons. There is a view that “Sometimes cultural differences are interpreted as “personality problems” (Schneider & Barsoux, 1997: 198). Nevertheless, probably that the situation it just personality problems, no relationship with the culture. The culture just an excuse that can be used simply and easily, moreover, no one will in trouble for this excuse. May be this is the practical reason that people willing to use the cultural excuse to explain the problems which in their multinational group (Barinaga, 2007: 325). Consequently, this research gives a useful inspiration to my study, that is do not judge the problems is cultural or non-cultural without a hitch, it is necessary to analyse the cause and effect of this problem more carefully. Furthermore, the author provides a good example on communication in the multinational group. She talked to each group member, and contacted the group members via e-mail or telephone frequently. Even sometimes she was introduced to a newcomer as a Swede (Barinaga, 2007: 322). The author used this kind of communication made the respondents feel relax and comfortable in the process of research, therefore, it can get data easier (Samovar & Porter, 2006: 353). All of these show that how communication is important and significant in the multinational group. Finally, the results of this research demonstrate that the “national culture” and “cultural diversity” are playing a significant role in organizing process of an international project (Barinaga, 2007: 321). That means this organizing process can be regarded as two steps: first is separate; second is together. The separate step makes the group members realized how important they are individually. The together step is that the cultural diversity helps the group members build their interdependency. Moreover, this research provides an inspiration to the person who is working in or interested in the field of cross-cultural management, it changed the traditional view that merely put attention on the relationship between cultural diversity and the performance of group. It suggested people who are in the multinational environment concerned the relationship between culture and organizing process of the multinational group. To sum up, this research has some distinctive contents and is significant in this area.


The list of reference

Bryman, A., and Bell, E. (2007). Business Research Methods. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Barinaga, E. (2007) ‘”Cultural Diversity” at Work: “National Culture” as a Discourse Organizing an International Project Group’ in Human Relations, Vol. 60: 315-340.

Barnes, B. (1985). Ethnomethodology as science. Social Studies of Science. London: SAGE. Vol. 15:751-62.

DeWalt, K, M. DeWalt, B, R. (2002). Participant observation: a guide for fieldworkers. Rowman Altamira, p. 237.

Ely, R, J. Thomas, D, A. (2001). Cultural diversity at work: The effects of diversity perspectives on work group processes and outcomes. Administrative Science Quarterly, Vol. 46: 229-73.

Foucault, M. (1980). Power/knowledge. New York: Pantheon.

Garfinkel, H. (1967). Studies in ethnomethodology. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Jemielniak, D. Kociatkiewicz, Jerzy (2009). Handbook of Research on Knowledge-Intensive Organizations. London: IGI Global snippet, p. 359.

Miller,P, G. Strang, J. Miller, P, M. (2010). Addiction Research Methods.

Chichester: John Wiley and Sons, p. 111.

Saunders, M. Lewis, P. Thornhill, A. (2009). Research Methods for Business Students. London: Pearson Education.

Schneider, S, C. Barsoux, J, L. (1997) Managing across cultures. London: Prentice Hall, p. 198.

Silverman, D. (2005). Doing qualitative research: a practical handbook. London: SAGE, p. 43.

Samovar, L, A. Porter, R, E. (2006). Communication Between Cultures. New York: Thomson Learning, p. 353.

Silverman, D. (2006). Interpreting qualitative data: methods for analyzing talk, text, and interaction. London : SAGE, p. 55.

Szarkowicz, D. (2006). Observations and reflections in childhood. London: Cengage Learning Australia, p. 24.

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