Ethnic diversity becomes more and more important. On the one hand OECD countries experience an increasing trend of a much higher number of immigrants since the 1960s. On the other hand organizations such as technology enterprises in the automotive industry work on transnational complex information based projects to make progress in highly innovative fields, such as e.g., autonomous driving; leading to cross-cultural teamwork with geographically converged (i.e. physical collaboration) and diverged (i.e. virtual) ethnic diverse team members. The fast globalization leads to a culture clash between different ethnics, which can lead to conflicts and hamper innovation. Research shows that the majority of enterprises do not manage ethnic diversity and literature is very rare to this topic. Dependent on the research setting and context, the literature reveals different results: A positive, negative or neutral relationship between ethnic diversity and innovation. Conditioned by the variables (i.e. possible factors), which are added to statistical models, researchers get different results. Hence, the explored factors cannot be considered as the key success factors to increase innovation with ethnic diverse teams. Therefore, the goal of this master thesis is to explore factors on the organizational and on the managerial level to increase the product innovation behavior in ethnic diverse teams. Based on extensive theoretical research, three semi-structured interviews with a team manager and two team members from a multinational company operating as a technology consulting partner in the automotive industry were conducted. The master thesis explored several factors that are based on Hofstedes cultural dimensions, the Cognitive-Affective Personality System Theory (CAPS), the Regulatory Fit Theory and the Situated Learning Theory.
The results show that the first step is to understand the team structure, because the theories from Hofstede and the CAPS theory have a major impact on the understanding about the collaboration with virtual team members, whereas the Situated Learning Theory is more noticeable in the collaboration of geographically converged team members, since people learn to adapt their behavior due to new situations. The Regulatory Fit Theory is useful to gain a general understanding about the mindset of people and how their soft skills can be best applied to create a balanced team with different skills. The second step is to understand the business strategy. To introduce the factors that foster innovation in an ethnic diverse team a global business strategy with the possibility for regional adaptions to address regional needs. Based on this fundament the three key success factors are mission statement (target the employee) on the organizational level as well as networking and customer orientation on the managerial level. These key success factors dictate the sub-factors, which are on the organizational level consistency (implement constantly market and culture values), involvement (empowerment, group-orientation, participative management style), structure (lean flat hierarchy) and a smart compensation system (reward teamwork). These organizational factors have an impact on the managerial factors, which are time (selection of candidates, spending time for employees), tasks (appropriate allocation of interdependent tasks), promoting respect (through participative decision-making and team events) and supporting motivation (through teamwork and challenging tasks). These factors enable the managers to work customer-oriented (i.e. peers are customers as well) and to network.