Integrating an innovative organizational culture with cultural intelligence in multicultural teams: A case study of an international student team
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Addressing innovation and multicultural teams separately is no longer an option for companies since both are essential for a company to stay competitive and thrive. Although studies such as Cox, Lobel, and McLeod (1991) and Nathan and Lee (2013) have shown that diversity encourages innovation, it can be challenging with multicultural teams. Leaders need a different mindset and an extended toolkit to bring out the best in every member of a team. Team leadership theories have progressed from understanding how leaders promote change to how the composition of their diverse teams impacts productivity, and finally to reviewing how cultural and emotional intelligence can improve innovation. The challenge for leaders is weighing cultural sensitivities while still maintaining an organizational culture. The purpose of this study was to understand the techniques that leaders can use to motivate and encourage innovation within multicultural teams. I conducted a case study of a successful multicultural team, including in-person interviews of 15 participants from a purposeful sample, to investigate how leaders can achieve better results in innovative endeavors. The analysis of the findings resulted in themes presented in a proposed theory of CARE (community, aim, respect, and empowerment) for this multicultural team to successfully innovate. While a case study of a multicultural student team was analyzed, the findings could be applied to similar situations, such as companies or organizations with diverse teams and an objective of innovating. The recommendation is to test the CARE theme to other situations such as companies with multicultural teams and other organizations with diverse teams.