Cultural Insights Blog - Joost Thissen
FROM THE LITERATURE. The MBI model for high performing multicultural teams, first put forward by Maznevski and DiStefano (2000), stands for Mapping, Bridging, Integrating. The model has gained wide acceptance in business, communications and management fields for its simplicity and adaptability to different contexts (2019).
The MBI Model for high performing multicultural teams serves as the foundation for structuring intercultural learning and development programs during design, development, and implementation phases for our clients. Whether presenting, training, coaching, or lecturing, the MBI model guarantees that participants relate more intuitively to cultural differences at work. It helps to make the unconscious more conscious.
The main strength of the MBI model is its ability to leverage cultural differences for better decision-making and increasing group performance. A great number of models are instrumental in positioning cultural value differences, however they stop short at fulfilling the objective of increasing group performance. It is worth mentioning that it is not the differences that are problematic, but rather how we manage these to work together. The MBI is doing just that: where understanding (from mapping) and communicating (from bridging) get converted into productive results (from integrating)”.
“…where understanding (from mapping) and communicating (from bridging) get converted into productive results (from integrating)”.
(Maznevski and DiStefano, 2000).
We embrace the MBI model in our intercultural learning & development practice for it greatly assists in structuring our intercultural learning and development programs. We can easily include relevant models and tools to the MBI process as we see fit for specific clients’ requirements.
How does the MBI Model work?
The Model is a three-component process, which adopts three principles and creates a means to bridge differences in culturally diverse work environments. The three components are:
“Value the differences and the differences will create value”
According to the literature, often multicultural groups do not perform as well as homogeneous groups. This sounds counter-intuitive to the assumption that diversity provides:
Why is there a gap between potential and actual?
Vital functions in teams such as building trust, assurance of conflict, show commitment, take accountability, focus on collective outcomes, are all more complex in culturally diverse teams. Especially when a lack of awareness and knowledge about cultural differences creates conflict.
How can potential be enhanced?
Cultural value differences can seriously hinder but also truly increase results: The MBI model offers a way to recognise and analyse cultural differences among team members and create a means to bridge differences, combine effect to close the gaps. Furthermore, measurable increases in productivity and effectiveness can be gained by not only effectively managing cultural differences among staff, but by leveraging the differences to provide added value.
By applying the MBI components during training interventions, your multicultural team has the potential to become one of the teams that do outperform homogeneous teams by creating and implementing unique and innovative solutions to complex intercultural organisational challenges. We call that creating a cultural competitive advantage.
Distefano, J. J., & Maznevski, M. L. (2000). Creating value with diverse teams in global management. Organizational Dynamics, 29(1), 45–63.
Lane, H., & Maznevski, M. (2019). International Management Behavior: Global and Sustainable Leadership. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 112
Joost Thissen, Partner & Interculturalist
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