Identifying Boundary Spanning Behaviours, Capital Conversions and Practices in Multicultural Teams




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De Montfort University


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Peer reviewed


This study concerns boundary spanning within and across multicultural teams, and will examine the impact of behaviours, roles, and boundary spanning practices in a multicultural team environment. Definitions of boundaries, boundary roles and boundary spanning behaviours and practices will be reviewed from social network and forms of capital literature, including recent conceptual rethinking on brokerage as ongoing processes (Obstfeld, 2014): of note conduiting and mediation. Conduiting is a form of indirect brokerage where an intermediary is the lone link between two agents across a boundary, and it involves false starts at brokering. The examination of false starts as they occur on a longitudinal basis will be attempted. With this approach, it is hoped to carry out a fresh examination of how conduiting may convert to mediation, namely a direct brokering process where a more successful intermediary succeeds in linking erstwhile separate parties together for communal collaboration (Obstfeld 2005; Lingo and O'Mahony, 2010). Reviews of ambassador and of task co-ordinator roles (Ancona and Caldwell, 1992) will include their negotiating behaviours within and between groups, and the forms of capital they accrue and convert between on a longitudinal basis. Key gatekeeping behaviours will be reviewed in terms of negotiation (Friedman and Podolny, 1992); as well as those of un-nominated emerging technology gatekeepers (Tushman and Scanlan, 1981). The emphasis of this study is the examination of the concept of boundary roles in simulated multicultural teams of higher education students (Popov et al, 2012). This is timely given that the brokerage processes of informal social structure have been found in experimental educational studies to boost the effectiveness of multicultural teams (Di Marco, Taylor and Alin, 2010). This thesis will explore the nature of informal social processes that develop during collaboration within and between multicultural teams with respect to: role negotiation processes (Ryan and Cosliger, 2011); gatekeeping behaviours (Levina and Vaast, 2005); and barriers to boundary spanning (Schotter and Beamish, 2011). Semi structured interviews and focus groups will be used in a longitudinal inter-subjective approach, in a multicultural team context over 30 weeks' duration. Purposive sampling will be employed to identify respondents in a three - pronged data collection process with the first set of focus groups at 15 weeks into the project, the second at 27 weeks, and individual interviews at 30 weeks. Manual coding will be employed to capture subtle details of boundary spanning practices. Key findings included barrier breaking practices, and associated capital conversions. Contributions from this longitudinal approach to multicultural teams include the identification of: barrier breaking practices based on social inclusion and processes of constituting social space associated with boundary spanning in practice; and the nature of associated capital conversions by key boundary roles.





Research Institute