Case Study 4: Being Marginalized

A multinational team in the United States: Many of the foreign team members will not substantially participate in meetings, hesitant to speak up. On occasion, some of the foreign team will even occasionally fall asleep in the meeting room. The effect of this was a growing sense that the foreign team members were marginalized as a group, and not fully able to contribute to the project.

Analysis: One cause of this is probably that the verbal discourse in the meeting was happening too fast. In addition, the meetings would often last too long. It can be taxing to actively listen to a foreign language for a long time, and it may be unreasonable to expect team members to absorb so much information in such a chaotic format. To compensate for this, the team distributed meeting minutes after each meeting that detailed all action items and conclusions. Also, relevant documents were stored in a central database, so foreign participants who could not follow the conversation likely planned to pick up the details after returning to their desks. Another aspect of this was that some of the foreign participants felt that the meeting contents were not relevant to their tasks—they were often invited to the meetings for reasons that they did not understand.

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Kevin Ready

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