QuestionQuestion

Write a six to eight paragraph analysis of the similarities AND the differences you would expect in the functioning of Finnish versus American work teams, based on what you read in the cultural analysis of the Finnish Sauna and American Football. When you describe your expectations for how Finnish teams would operate, portray them, at least initially, as you think Finns would portray themselves. In other words, try NOT to give an ethnocentric account of Finnish teamwork. In addition, please explain any challenges, misunderstandings, or inconsistent expectations that you think teams with both Finnish and American members might encounter, based on the general cultural differences you read about. Give this assignment some thought. Go beyond what is explicitly stated in the text to try to envision the teamwork behaviors, thoughts and feelings and the ways of seeing the world that seem natural and taken-for-granted in each culture.

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The challenge to come up with a view of Finnish culture and work that is not ethnocentric—that is not essentially and presumptuously American—is no small challenge. It is all too easy to forget that the ways in which we are constituted by our cultures is not the only way possible. And, based on a manifold of historical and natural factors, cultures are different, and thus so are the people they build. But, this reality raises a puzzling question: if we are to compare and contrast, if we are to think of the similarities and differences between the likely work habits and actions of teams composed of people of radically different backgrounds and characters, from what ground will we be making such determinations?

After all, this concern is implicit in the guidance and admonition to not make the mistake of inadvertent ethnocentrism – our ground, my ground, the ground from which one makes and takes stances, is, arguably, ground constituted by culture, and so ethnocentric stances must always be close at hand. One may wonder why this concerns me. This concerns—and vexes—me because I think finding a neutral ground, or at least one from which ethnocentrism is mitigated or impossible, seems to have to be necessary to understanding, managing, and leading effective multicultural teams. So, one goal of this brief discussion will be to reflect on how one is able to come up with a non-ethnocentric analysis of the similarities and differences between American and Finnish team-members....
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