Cultural differences, participative leadership and communication style - A study of two international software companies
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This thesis looks at the influence of cultural differences on software development teams. It consists of two articles. The first article explores employee expectations and preferences towards participative leadership (PL), and the second article looks at differences in communication style, focusing on openness and directness. A multimethod approach was used to gather empirical data from two case companies, with both a questionnaire, an SPGR survey and in-depth interviews. Data was mainly collected from Norway, Sweden, Russia, Lithuania, Latvia and the Netherlands, with some respondents from other countries. The findings exposed several divergences in expectations between nationalities towards the level of participative leadership, but indicated that preferences are much more similar across the countries. Regarding communication, there seems to be a difference in openness between Eastern and Scandinavian countries, while directness is more related to the individual country, and cannot be clustered as easily. Finally, the age of respondents was also discovered to have an impact, both on preferences for PL and on communication style. Theories on national culture, agile software development and virtual communication have been applied to the data to better understand the context that affects the cross-cultural teamwork. The thesis contributes to literature by adding both support and some nuances to previous theories, as well as new insights for the countries studied. Additionally, the findings have managerial implications for multinational companies and multicultural teams.