The creation of a global village, transnational corporations, internet and similar influences remind us constantly that a science of organizations and management is incomplete without the integration of concepts of culture and self-awareness. It is no longer appropriate to discuss organizational activities and employee actions without incorporating a more complete view of where such activities take place. Not only must we include an immediate social context, but we must deal with the international and cultural aspects of the social world as well. More than ever, understanding of employee action requires knowledge of how action is related to the environment in which it is embedded. Using this general focus, we examine a number of significant issues concerning cultural influences on work groups and teams.
Our emphasis is the extension and elaboration of other reviews concerning work teams evaluated cross-culturally. The interested reader is referred to a number of articles including Mann (1980), Triandis (1994), Tannenbaum (1980), Earley and Gibson (in press), Granrose and Oskamp (1997), and Ravlin et al. (in press) among others. Our review contains three sections, the first of which is a discussion of traditional approaches to studying teams including the emphasis used in this chapter. In the second section, we use our framework to review literature concerning cultural influences in relation to work teams. Finally, we make a number of recommendations for future research and indicate how our contextual-structural approach extends existing lines of work.