‘Intercultural Communication Challenges and Impact on Multicultural Teams in Saudi Arabian Companies – Perceptions and Roles on Beliefs of Trust’




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De Montfort University


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Peer reviewed


Trust is very important in multinational organisations as it serves to improve teamwork, creates a positive and creative environment, and helps develop cooperation and enhance communication amongst members of the multicultural organisations and ameliorate their performance at work. However, despite the importance of trust in building collaborative and effective relationships in the workplace, the increasing cultural diversity in these organisations often makes perception of trust face many intercultural communication challenges, which can disrupt the organisational performance and competitiveness. These rise to conflicts among them and even lead to severance of relations. The aim of this research is to explore how team members in multicultural teams at multinational companies in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia understand trust. This research adopts an innovative approach by using a mixed method framework in which three data collection tools were used: questionnaire, interviews, and metaphor analysis. This method has not been utilised before in the literature to study the conceptualisation of trust. 482 members of multicultural teams working in four international companies have participated in the questionnaire as well as 38 members participating in the interview in this study. Thematic analysis, descriptive statistics and regression analysis is used to analyse qualitative and quantitative data, respectively. Significant findings of this study show that ten key individual personality characteristics contribute to perceptions of trust among multicultural team, which are honesty, reciprocation, reliability, credibility, ability, security, openness, dependability, loyalty and shared understand. However, three characteristics of the trustee were considered highly valued and critical for the establishment of the trust between the trustor and the trustee, which are ability, honesty and reciprocity. The social and cultural factors were found to contribute to the development of trust perceptions of trust between team members in multicultural teams, which are experience, social environment (organisational environment), religion, education, upbringing, and culture. Furthermore, the cultural similarities and differences in the perception of trust were revealed to be an important factor in the development of trust within multicultural teams in multinational organisations in Saudi Arabia. The major similar trends in perception of trust were the honesty, ability and reciprocation perceived as the key features of trustworthy person, while reliability, security and openness are perceived differently among different nationalities. The perception of trust model was drawn based on personality characteristics of the trustee and cultural Perception of trust vi similarities and differences, which contributes an important piece of knowledge to the existing literature on the issues of trust in multicultural teams. Another important finding of this was that the perceptions of trust were positively associated with the communication and teamwork. For the first time, this study validated the use of metaphor analysis to dissect the issue of perception of trust in multinational companies. Thus, this study has important implications for both managers and practitioners working with multinational companies to reduce the mistrust issues.





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