The positive role of global leaders in enhancing multicultural team innovation

Research paper by Alon Lisak, Miriam Erez, Yang Sui, Cynthia Lee

Indexed on: 28 Jun '16Published on: 24 Jun '16Published in: Journal of International Business Studies


This study contributes to the empirical research on leadership of multicultural teams from the Positive Organizational Scholarship perspective (POS). Following the information/decision-making processes perspective on team cultural diversity, we examined the positive effect of leaders’ global identity, on multicultural team innovation. We proposed that R&D, multicultural team leaders with high global identity foster team-shared innovation goals and motivate team members to adopt communication inclusion behavior, making sure that they all understand each other. Furthermore, we propose that the effect of fostering team shared innovation goals on communication inclusion will be stronger for teams with perceived high, rather than low, cultural diversity and that team communication inclusion will positively affect team innovation. Participants were 574 R&D multicultural team members, their leaders, and their leaders’ managers in 82 co-located teams in a Chinese branch of a large, German global organization. Using SEM analysis, our findings supported our research model, demonstrating that multicultural team leaders with high global identity leveraged cultural diversity to promote innovative goals, which further enhanced team communication inclusion and its positive impact on team innovation. We discuss the theoretical and practical implications to the POS perspective on cultural diversity.