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How Would Communication Affect Multicultural Projects in the UAE?

By AY Lim 20 October 2012

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Abstract
Project management is a complex multi-disciplinary undertaking that needs to overcome several hurdles while in progress, most of which have to do with managing team members to deliver results as expected. And critical to the effort is communicative competence a social linguistic skill that predicates just about every aspect of project management, from planning to execution, from interpersonal coordination within the team and outside, to reading related documents and writing reports. This gets a significant aggravation when done in the multicultural environment where the team members, suppliers and other stakeholders to the project are from different countries with varying cultural and social backgrounds, temperaments, persuasions and social behaviors that must be set aside for them to work together to achieve a common objective. This is the kind of project management that implements new buildings, mega-structures, and systems in the United Arab Emirates, a 21st century mecca where migrants far exceed the local population and which is now on the road to meet the challenge occasioned by the countrys leaders embarking on Vision 2021. This paper explores the various aspects of communication in a multicultural project management setting to assess its roles and how it can best be used to create a smooth transition into the changes that will need to be implemented in such project management undertakings. The study used both quantitative and qualitative methods to extract common themes to confirm its hypothesis that communication has a heightened role in a multicultural project engagement. Several literatures were explored to create the conceptual framework within which the primary data collection using survey questionnaire and personal interview was undertaken to arrive at a thematic body of opinions. Page | 2

The results of the survey and interview affirmed the hypotheses and ends with a couple of recommendations that can better enable project managers to deal with the challenges presented by cultural diversity in their work ensuring 2nd language competence and implementing team building mechanisms prior to the start of any project. These recommendations are already in place in many companies across the UAE. But this paper, based on the survey and interview results, reiterates the need to implement these solutions at the earliest possible time for those that are not aware of or have yet to adopt them. Companies in the UAE sharing the same set of effective communication skills that can harness the benefits of cultural diversity and overcome its potential for internal strife can bring the nation to further heights of progress as defined in its Vision 2021.

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Table of Contents
Abstract ................................................................................................................................. 2 List of Figures ....................................................................................................................... 5 List of Tables......................................................................................................................... 5 1 Introduction ................................................................................................................... 6 1.1 Background ............................................................................................................ 6 1.2 Research aims and objectives ................................................................................. 7 1.3 Research Hypothesis .............................................................................................. 7 1.4 Relevance and Significance of the Research .......................................................... 8 1.5 Scope and Limitations of the Research .................................................................. 9 1.6 Structure of the Thesis .......................................................................................... 10 2 Literature Review ........................................................................................................ 12 2.1 UAE Progress under a Multicultural Environment .............................................. 12 2.2 Government Support for Multicultural Projects ................................................... 16 2.3 High Profile Multicultural UAE Projects ............................................................. 17 2.3.1 The Palm Island Jumeirah project ................................................................. 17 2.3.2 The Worlds Tallest Building the Burj Khalifa ......................................... 18 2.4 Problems Encountered with Multicultural Project Management ......................... 19 2.4.1 Communication Barriers ............................................................................... 20 2.4.2 Status Hierarchies.......................................................................................... 21 2.5 Job Specifications in Implementing Projects ....................................................... 22 2.6 Project management and communicative competence ......................................... 24 2.6.1 Intercultural or cross-cultural communication .............................................. 26 2.6.2 Where Communication is needed in Project Management ........................... 27 2.7 The Challenge in Cross-Cultural Communication ............................................... 30 2.7.1 Understanding Non-Verbal Cues .................................................................. 30 2.7.2 Developing ethnorelativity or Intercultural sensitivity ................................. 31 2.7.3 Enhancing second language capability ......................................................... 31 2.8 Advantages and benefits of a Multicultural Project team .................................... 33 2.9 Summary .............................................................................................................. 34 2.9.1 Conceptual Framework ................................................................................. 34 3 Research Methodology................................................................................................ 36 3.1 Research Design and Methodology ...................................................................... 36 3.1.1 Data Collection.............................................................................................. 37 3.1.2 The Survey Questionnaire ............................................................................. 37 3.1.3 Interviews ...................................................................................................... 38 3.1.4 Data Analysis ................................................................................................ 39 3.1.5 Qualification of the sampled ......................................................................... 39 3.1.6 Survey Invitation Process .............................................................................. 39 3.2 Research Ethics .................................................................................................... 40 3.3 Limitations............................................................................................................ 40 4 Findings ....................................................................................................................... 42 4.1 Survey and Interview Responses .......................................................................... 42 4.2 Results of the Survey ............................................................................................ 42 4.2.1 Part A: Demographics ................................................................................... 42 4.2.2 Part B: Multicultural Project management experience ................................ 44 4.2.3 Interview Results ........................................................................................... 48 4.3 Discussion and Summary of Themes ................................................................... 54 Page | 4

Conclusion .................................................................................................................. 57 5.1 Answering the Research Questions ...................................................................... 57 5.2 Implications .......................................................................................................... 57 5.3 Recommendations ................................................................................................ 58 5.3.1 Incorporate Bi-Lingual Personnel as Part of Project teams .......................... 58 5.3.2 Incorporate Team Building Activities before Starting a Project ................... 59 5.4 Conclusion ............................................................................................................ 59 References ........................................................................................................................... 62 Appendices .......................................................................................................................... 66 Annex A: Survey Questionnaire .................................................................................... 66 Annex B: Interview Prompts........................................................................................... 69 Annex C: Invitation to Participate in the Survey and Interview .................................... 70

List of Figures
Figure 1: Population growth in major UAE cities (source: World Population Prospects: 2010 revision and World Urbanization Prospects, 19 June 2012) ...................................... 12 Figure 2: Ethnic residents in the UAE (Source: UAE Government estimations based on US Departments of State data (2011)) ...................................................................................... 13 Figure 3: Composition of migrant population living in Metropolitan Dubai as of 2005 .... 16 Figure 4: Gender ................................................................................................................. 42 Figure 5: Civil Status ......................................................................................................... 42 Figure 6: Income ................................................................................................................. 43 Figure 7: Age distribution ................................................................................................... 43 Figure 8: Education ............................................................................................................. 43 Figure 9: Experience (years) in project management ......................................................... 43 Figure 10: Multicultural projects handled by respondents .................................................. 44 Figure 11: Second language competence of respondents ................................................... 44

List of Tables
Table 1: Percentage of migrants to total population in the UAE from 1990 to 2010 (Source: United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2009). Trends in International Migrant Stock: The 2008 Revision (United Nations database, POP/DB/MIG/Stock/Rev.2008). ......................................................................... 15 Table 2: Multicultural content of a major construction project .......................................... 20 Table 3: Samples of job skill requirements for positions in project management excerpted from various online sources advertising for vacant job positions targeting the UAE job markets. ............................................................................................................................... 22 Table 4: Countries with English as a stated official language or widely spoken (Sources CNRS, 2008) ....................................................................................................................... 31 Table 5: Survey questionnaire structure ............................................................................. 38 Table 6: Ranking of three major project management skills .............................................. 45 Table 7: Ranking of importance of specific communication skills in a multicultural project ............................................................................................................................................. 46 Table 8: Ranking of importance of specific project management areas where communications plays a vital role. ...................................................................................... 47 Page | 5

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1.1

Introduction
Background The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is among the more liberal Islamic countries in

the Middle East, providing liberal trade that has attracted significant capital inflows from within and outside the Middle East over the last decade (HSBC / PWC, 2010). This has catapulted the country to stand proud alongside world class developing tiger economies on the road to first world status as a nation. Along the way, the country under its current leadership and governance has seen several high profile infrastructure projects in property development, construction, IT, telecommunications and road network that have paved the way to its current world class ranking. Nearly all these projects involved foreign expertise and labour from several countries on all continents along with migrant ethnic groups in the country working together to transform a once backward nation to what it is today. How did the UAE manage to bring such a pool of multicultural diversity to work on a singular objective of nation building is a monumental testament to the determined vision of the countrys leadership and the resilience, flexibility and determination of its local workforce in embracing diverse ethnic groups to live and work with them. But underpinning such multifaceted dimensions of culture, working styles and temperament from various cultures is an enabling tool that brings together such diversity under a commonly understood objective. This is communication. To a large extent, the UAE represents a microcosm of the global village, with diverse cultural forces set aside to work together towards a common aspiration. Toward this end, enabling various projects to achieve success is the result of various project management disciplines tied together by the ability of their project managers to bring the work force into a cohesive team. Delivering the desired results has been proven to rest on having sufficient communicative competence Page | 6

to bring the disparate multicultural parties in the project together with a clear understanding of is expected from them individually and collectively.

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Research aims and objectives The paper aims to establish and confirm the value of communication skills in a

multicultural project management and to add to the wealth of knowledge about what makes project management succeed in a multicultural environment, regardless of the complexity of the project that needs to be managed in the UAE. To this end the research aims to answers the following specific research questions: (1) Are project managers properly trained in multiple or two language linguistic competence in managing multicultural projects? (2) How do project managers perceive the value of communication skills in multicultural project engagements? (3) Is the experience of UAE project managers in managing multicultural projects sufficient to bring them closer to reaching the countrys Vision 2021?

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Research Hypothesis Answering the research questions hopes to confirm or debunk the hypothesis that

communication skills matter significantly in implementing a multicultural project successfully in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Few places on the planet where there has been intensive projects in the private and public sectors characterized by a high level of multinational involvement as in the UAE. The paper hopes to arrive at and establish a definitive confirmation of the benefits of communication in enabling a multicultural project to be effective in achieving success in any project management endeavor.

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The independent variable in the study is the communication skills harnessed in project management while the dependent variable is the success of multicultural projects. The moderating variables include the demographics, project management experience and values of the surveyed project managers.

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Relevance and Significance of the Research The paper hopes to gather the relevant information from primary and secondary

sources on the importance of communicative competence in managing human capital of diverse cultural origins working together for a common objective in a project management setting. While there are several extant literature on the factors creating a successful project management undertaking, there are just a few that delve with what makes a multicultural project succeed. Communication skills are another topic that has several authors talking about its importance in a corporate management setting, but remains less so in the context of managing projects with a multicultural content in its workforce. This paper will add to the current body of knowledge about project management with particular focus on managing the social dimensions complicated by the active involvement of several nationalities with differing social values and behaviuoral norms occasioned by their respective cultural origins and religious persuasion. Communicative competence is well recognized as a factor critical to the success of teamwork in a project, but it gets even more challenging when the success hinges on the harmonious interactivity among various races and cultures that need to work together as a team. To a large extent, project management under this circumstance is a microcosm of what it means to have cross-border openness that aspires to achieve a more seamless trade cooperation among nations.

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1.5

Scope and Limitations of the Research This study was confined to the following scopes: Time: The research design, data collection and analysis and documentation were done within the period from March September 2012. Location: The study was conducted in the United Arab Emirates, specifically in Dubai. Primary Data Collection: Various literatures (books, journals, government, and academic research) were explored on the subject related to the UAE cultural profile, communication, intercultural communication, and project management in general and multicultural project in particular, published or released within the period from 1990 to the present. Population Sample: The study surveyed project managers of several multinational companies engaged in various public and private projects in Dubai.

The study was limited by the following 1. Empirical data gathered provided an accurate snapshot of the current multicultural project management situation obtaining in the UAE industries as a situational snapshot. Hence, its findings would only be valid within a short period of time since future developments in the countrys socio-political landscape as well as management practices among UAE businesses could create situations where the research findings progressively lose its relevance as new realities and adaptive measures are undertaken by project stakeholders and project managers.

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2. The research does not cover the political implications of managing cultural diversity other than to point out current overall cultural heritage that makes UAE a melting pot of various cultures from immigrants and migrant workers that have overwhelmed its own native population. 3. The population sample size was limited to the period of time allotted for the study. 4. The surveyed Project Managers had their pressing schedules and commitments so that it was understandable if had some reluctance or refused to participate in the study.

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Structure of the Thesis Chapter One: This is the current chapter which introduces the subject of the

paper, stating with a brief background information predisposing the research and segues to where the research is headed through its aims, objectives and the questions that need to find answers by the end of the study. It presents the significance of the prospective findings and ends with a brief overview of the papers structure. Chapter Two: This focuses on providing a detailed, comprehensive and critical review of extant literature relevant to the exploration of answers to the research questions while providing scholarly and professional insights that create the conceptual framework of the study. The literature review looks into what the academe, professional practitioners and news writers have published in assessing the multicultural dimensions of the UAE as a country and in the context of project management behind some of the high profile projects that have defined the economic marvel that the UAE has become today. Chapter Three: This will present a detailed description of the research methodology and its justification. It presents the chosen research design and strategy, the primary data collection methods, target population, and the analysis to be used. The Page | 10

chapter also presents the ethical issues that may arise during the studys implementation as well as its limitations peculiar to this study. Chapter Four: This will present the findings of the primary data collection efforts within the context of the literature-based conceptual framework as discussed in Chapter Two. The presentation of the findings is systematically arranged to correspond to each research question posed by the study and ends with a discussion of each theme as may be revealed in the gathered information. Chapter Five: This concludes the study, taking off from the discussion of the thematic body of shared and significant opinions emerging from the findings discussed in Chapter Four to answer the research questions. The chapter ends with the studys implications for further research and recommendations that can provide better multicultural project management outcomes for UAE companies.

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Literature Review
The section reviews extant materials in the form of research studies, books and

journal articles that define the conceptual framework where the role of communication can be situated in the context of a multicultural diversity in the workplace. An examination of the society of the UAE where such project managements are carried out locally or on a global scale provides the backdrop in the study. The value and the role of communication is then discussed and its implications and benefits in managing team members are then explored towards the end. 2.1 UAE Progress under a Multicultural Environment Polish academicians Kamrowska-Zaluska and Goledzinowska (2012) calls the UAE rise from the a non-descript underdeveloped Arab desert village of fishermen and pearl divers (Randall, 2010) in the 70s to a thriving mega-metropolis of the 21st century as a spectacular specimen in hyper-dynamic developmental growth in a multicultural urban setting that defined the global standard for a developing nation while at the same emphasizing on its tradition of multiculturalism. The UAE is considered among the

Figure 1: Population growth in major UAE cities (source: World Population Prospects: 2010 revision and World Urbanization Prospects, 19 June 2012)

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youngest states in the world but also one of the most dynamic in terms of infrastructure development and is the most cosmopolitan and westernized nation in the region (Miller, 2011). Randall (2010) points to its tolerant Islamic society, oil-based wealth and rapid development driven by the influx of foreign workers from the lowly taxi driver to construction workers, teachers and doctors who have further enriched its multicultural diversity with English assuming a second language and widely used in business (Miller, 2011). Fig 1 shows the steady growth in the UAE population across its major cities. What relevance does the UAE population growth have on the research? Not much unless the population has a multicultural diversity involved in major infrastructure projects behind the transformation of the country to become one of the most developed tiger economies the Asian continent, thanks larges to its oil products and exports (Shihab, 2001). As a result of unabated influx of foreign workers and expatriates migrating to the Emirates, the native Emiratis are effectively outnumbered in their own country, with around 85% of the population migrants as shown in Fig. 2. The largest ethnic groups come from India and Pakistan which at 51% already comprise more than half the nations residents. Despite the cultural diversity, the most pervasively spoken languages are Arabic and/or English.
Figure 2: Ethnic residents in the UAE (Source: UAE Government estimations based on US Departments of State data (2011))

However, the highly skilled professionals from the west are visible but small part of this society - the great mass of the population are South Asian contract labourers, who are legally bound to a single employer

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(Davis, 2007). The economic stability and prosperity of the country have spawned various developmental and infrastructure projects which attracted FDI inflows creating more jobs than the local workforce can competently fill, thus, further increasing the attractiveness for the country to foreign workers as evidenced by the continuous influx of migrant workers from the region, Asia and western countries. Brenner and Kell (2006) consider this hyperdevelopmental trend as a direct offshoot of the globalization that the country has embraced since the end of the 20th century. The trend sits well with the tradition of benign multicultural tolerance that has seen the region develop as a mecca for various ethnic groups to settle over the centuries. Abetted and encouraged by the globalization trends that have significantly altered the social landscape of the country (Elsheshtawy, 2009), the concept of a world citizen where the world could well be seeing the roots of starting right at the heat of the Dubai metropolis. Needless to say, the project management needed to undertake the various developmental projects face a social dimension of multicultural complexity that is rarely, if at all, encountered in most first world and developing countries in the West The UAE is a federation of seven emirates with laws at federal and emirate levels. The Islamic federation has enunciated its commitment to among the best counties in the world by 2021. This is the national Vision 2021 (www.vision2021.ae) with the slogan: United in ambition, and determination. The vision looks at four developmental elements that will concretize this vision a socially responsible emirates, prosperous families, strong and active communities, and a vibrant culture founded on progressive moderate Islamic values. The country has embarked on several programs that will successfully carve out this vision into a socio-economic reality over the next decade,

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drawing on the countrys strong heritage of family and societal bonds, innovation and technical skills, and progressive moderate Islamic values. One of these programs, and the most consequential of them, is the development of the countrys infrastructures, industries and commerce that will tap on the best-of-breed disciplines and practices from disparate peoples, mostly from the Western, and East and Southeast Asian nations as well as developing countries that have achieved economic and industrial successes. What this implies to local enterprises engaged in managing projects and to the government that endorses such projects is the need for an added dimension of micromanaging the social and cultural diversity in project management something that has not bedevilled industrialized nations who have undertaken similar projects in the past. These countries have tapped more on their local expertise, presenting no significant sociocultural barriers as what now confronts the UAE today and over the last decade is achieving its current status as a world class country with higher aspirations to achieving the best for its Vision 2021.
Table 1: Percentage of migrants to total population in the UAE from 1990 to 2010 (Source: United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2009). Trends in International Migrant Stock: The 2008 Revision (United Nations database, POP/DB/MIG/Stock/Rev.2008).

Year

International migrants Estimated number of international as a percentage of the migrants at mid-year population 71.3 70.6 70.6 70.0 70.0 1 330 324 1 715 980 2 286 174 2 863 027 3 293 264

1990 1995 2000 2005 2010

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Figure 3: Composition of migrant population living in Metropolitan Dubai as of 2005

Table 1 shows a high percentage of foreign mix in the UAE population which currently stands at roughly 4.7 million as of 2010, while Figure 3 shows the mix of nationalities comprising these migrant workers (UN, 2012). It is clear that foreign stock dominates the countrys population and this high level of migratory influx can be traced to the governments liberal policies and the local peoples tolerant attitudes despite having a culture and religion considered less tolerant than their counterparts in Western and East Asian countries. 2.2 Government Support for Multicultural Projects Recognizing the inherent problems that have widespread and consistent reach in managing diverse cultures to bring the countrys vision to reality, the Dubai government has taken the necessary steps to support companies engaged in these projects. Towards Vision 2021, the government has enunciated a three-headed strategic program that will promote effective government communication (UAE 2011). These are as follows:

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Enhance the visibility and credibility of the Federal Government by fully utilizing existing and new communication channels to reach all key segments, and ensuring fact based communication and media engagement in a proactive manner Create a distinct and unied Federal Government identity by developing and implementing unied standards for the Federal Governments identity Enhance the role of communication in policy-making and cultural change by utilizing communication as an input to policy-making and strategy development, leveraging communication to support policy execution, promoting internal communication tools, and building communication systems, capacities and skills

One of the pillars supporting these strategies is clearly driven by communication and media engagement considered essential is reshaping the cultural dynamics of a nation that has been largely dependent on a multicultural mix of foreign and local workforce behind projects that have catapulted the nation to where it is today. Recently, Gulfnews reported that the UAE Ministry of Labour reiterated its commitment to implement the instructions of the countrys Head of State, President Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan to protect the rights of contractual workers involved in local projects (Gulfnews, 2012). Mubarak Saeed Al Daheri, the Labour Undersecretary made clear this commitments to enforce relevant legislation as well as supervisory and regulatory policies to maintain a balanced relationships between local employers and foreign contractual workers in a speech before a Nepalese delegation to discuss and promote Nepalese workers in the UAE. 2.3 High Profile Multicultural UAE Projects 2.3.1 The Palm Island Jumeirah project

Property development projects in the UAE are composed of highly diverse management teams in one major construction project that spanned almost a decade to complete, the presence of several nationalities with different cultures, religions, values and Page | 17

languages working as project participants created numerous challenges. Orrill (2010) recounts that the challenges that the Palm Island Jumeirah project faces between 200 when it\started and 2008 when it was completed, mostly stemmed from several factors that can be traced to divergent norms and values, status hierarchies and communication barriers, to mention the major ones. 2.3.2 The Worlds Tallest Building the Burj Khalifa

The Burj Khalifa project won the Best Project of the Year at the 2010 Middle East Architect Awards (Crowcroft, 2010) and while it has been prominently in global news as being the worlds tallest building in the world and sharing a spotlight with Tom Cruise in the 4th instalment of the Mission Impossible franchise, the project has had its share of labor problems. As a backgrounder, the construction project exemplified what a multicultural project is. The property is owned by a local property development firm with global reach - Emaar Properties, which awarded the design work to a US firm - Skidmore, Owings and Merrill the same design firm behind the Sears Tower in Chicago and the new One World Trade Center in New York, the London-based multinational engineering consultants, and Hyder Consulting as supervising engineers along with the NORR Group Consultants International LTD. The engineering design employed a modern structural innovation invented by a Bangladeshi, Fazlure Rahman Khan. Meanwhile the South Korean company Samsung Engineering & Construction which also built the Petronas Twin Towers and Taipei 101 was chosen to construct the tower in a joint venture with Belgian company BERSIX and a local firm Arabtec, employing workers primarily from South Asia (India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh). The US-based Tuner Construction Co was chosen as the project manager.

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2.4

Problems Encountered with Multicultural Project Management In most post-project assessments, communication is often among the areas that

could have better served a smoother project implementation if not precluded its failure, in part or in whole (Cornelius & Associates, n.d.). A breakdown in communication can cause problems in any project management effort and this gets even more complicated in a multicultural project. This can occur at various levels or hierarchies in a project team can include any or a combination of the following: The Construction , Engineering and Infrastructure Management or CEIM (2010) reported that a condominium project in Ho Chi Minh employing contractual workers and engineering experts from a few countries suffered interpersonal and intra-group communication problems which included a failure to generate or encourage information flow in a face-to-face meetings between team members as well as inter-group communication problems where interactions between the team and suppliers, contractors, principals, and other stakeholders occur very frequently at any point or time during the project duration. The same construction project experienced a fundamental failure to identify and assess the project stakeholders and their specific information needs, suitable channels of information flow (online chats, emails, paper submissions, etc.) and frequency or interaction between the project team and stakeholders. This could have been addressed of at the very start of a project engagement and a project charter identifying a matrix of reporting methods, recipients and reporting accountabilities will help in addressing this problem. Several other communication problems were experienced such as the use of abusive language, wrong timing of information flow such as delayed status updates and assessment of team member performance, and failure to understand the needs Page | 19

and concerns of team members often occasioned by a failure to listen attentively to what members are saying or take them seriously. 2.4.1 Communication Barriers

Communication can be difficult enough when team members speak the same language in a homogenous cultural setting (Behfar, Kern & Brett, 2006) . Finding the right words and phrasing nuances to motivate workers can be challenging but this is nothing compared to a team with dozens of different languages in a heterogeneous multicultural setting with only a few speaking more than one that can be understood by most, such as English. Table 2 shows the number of nationalities involved with Jumeirah project (Orrill 2012) and the end result is a multi-cultural project innately challenged by natural communication barriers. Orrill (2012) has enumerated several problems in the Jumeirah related to cultural diversity but communication constituted a major part the often derailed efforts to achieve teamwork, cooperation and collaboration among various nationals working in the project. This often led to delayed deliverables and conflicts that almost led to violence between certain ethnic groups.
Table 2: Multicultural content of a major construction project

Nationality/Culture
UAE Nationals GCC Nationals Certain Arabs Brits Americans Australians Other Arabs Iranian/Iraqi Europeans Filipino Pakistani Indian/Chinese Sub Saharan African

Hierarchical Level
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

Typical Project Function


Property Owner / Developer Upper Management Upper Management Management (CM) Management (CM) Management (CM) Management (CM/GC) Management (CM/GC) Management (CM) Technicians Labourers Labourers (some Chinese GCs) Labourers

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Communication is not just about being able to send a message through the facility of spoken or written communication, no matter how comprehensively or eloquently done. It is also the ability to listen, understand and digest meanings from what others are saying. David Nunan (1997) describes listening as having fundamental importance in the communication process. Gillian Brown (1990) calls it oracy, or the ability to both listen and speak the language as being fundamental to communicative competence and literacy. The next level is the ability to read and write in the language and this ability completes the communicative literacy when learning ESL (English as a Second Language). In another level, communicative incompetence can be seen when there are discrepancies in phrasing minutes of a meeting with what actually transpired during the meeting. This can be merely a clerical error to proofread and is truly a failure to understand and document the proceedings of a meeting. Phrasing inaccuracies of meeting minutes communicate different messages to different parties. Even if the language is perfectly clear, it is the various meanings and concepts that lie behind the actual words that can become an issue of misinterpretation. 2.4.2 Status Hierarchies

A characteristic of projects in the UAE that is endemic to the UAE society despite having a high tolerance level of multi-ethnicity is that workers are ranked according to status hierarchies or their worth to a project management organization. In the West, this would be the equivalent of cultural stereotypes and biases. It was not only obvious in the Jumeirah project (Orrill 2010), but is evident in the wider UAE societies, though noticeably fading over time. Even the caste system ingrained in the culture of Indians became evident as biases emerged to give problems in the organization of the team that would not have occurred if this particular ethnic group were not employed.

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2.5

Job Specifications in implementing projects in the UAE A random sampling of a few online job placement ads for a project management

position in a number of first rate companies in the UAE shows that among the qualifications in technical and managerial skills, there is a consistent requirement for communication skills. This clearly points to the need for communication competence as integral to project management positions in the country (Buehring, 2009). Table 3 shows four sampled online job placement ads with communications skills among the requirements for project management positions.
Table 3: Samples of job skill requirements for positions in project management excerpted from various online sources advertising for vacant job positions targeting the UAE job markets.

1. Product Manager, IP, from a recruitment agency for an unnamed Telecoms company
http://www.bayt.com/en/job/?xid=1789751 Skills Minimum of 5 years Product Management experience in Telecommunications and or IT environment specializing on IP related products. Product management skills product knowledge, development of products, product pricing and the establishment of products in the market. Process and business skills demonstrate deep understanding of the operational process implication of existing mobile communication products and services and the enhancement thereof throughout the company. Customer focus skills are dedicated to meet the expectations and requirements of internal and external customers. Get first-hand customer information and uses it for improvement of products. Acts with customers in mind. Reporting skills writing of letters, preparing monthly and other reports, preparing presentations serving as decision support. Interpersonal skills relates well to all kinds of people. Uses diplomacy and act tact. Can diffuse even high-tension situations comfortably. Communication skills with the ability able to communicate clearly. Can get messages across that have the desired effect. Can convince people. Written communication skills is able to write clearly in a number of different communication settings and styles. Can get messages across that have the desired effect. Expertise in developing and assessing business plans and monitoring actual data. Expertise in Project Management. Analytical skills ability to assess data and make conclusions. University Degree or equivalent qualification in Business Administration, Marketing, or Telecom Engineering.

2. Project Director LTE Network Design

TAAHEED Riyadh, Saudi Arabia http://www.gulftalent.com/home/Project-Director-LTE-Network-Design-jobs-in-Riyadh-SaudiArabia-96940.html

Requirements The Project Director shall have a degree in Electrical or Electronics Engineering from a university or equivalent qualification, a master's degree or higher is desired.

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The Project Director shall possess an excellent command of the English language. Knowledge of the Arabic language would be an advantage. The Project Director shall have at least 15 years previous experience in planning, design and project management of large telecommunication projects, and at least 5 years in a responsible position managing large departments. In particular reference shall be made to design of state-ofthe-art Fixed and Mobile networks.

3.

Project Manager, for an unnamed international telecoms company providing a complete rang e of wire and cable products, http://www.gulfjobsmarket.com/project-manager-58-job Skills and Specifications University degree or college diploma in the field telecommunications and /or Data communications. 5 years direct work experience in a project management capacity, including all aspects of process development and execution. Certifications in Project Management Familiarity with project management software, such as MS Project. Knowledge of the Telcordia Network Engineer ESRI GIS Technology system as deployed within Etisalat. Knowledge of current Network technologies and Topologies. Knowledge of ISP and OSP Installation Methodologies Competent with various software programs, such as MS Office and AutoCAD Can conform to shifting priorities, demands and timelines through analytical and problem-solving capabilities. Ability to read communication styles of team members and contractors who come from a broad spectrum of disciplines. Ability to elicit cooperation from a wide variety of sources, including upper management, clients, and other departments. Ability to defuse tension among project team, should it arise. Strong written and oral communication skills. Strong interpersonal skills. Adept at conducting research into project-related issues and products. Customer service skills an asset. Ability to effectively prioritize and execute tasks in a highpressure environment is crucial. Work Conditions: Overtime may be required in meet project deadlines. Sitting for extended periods of time. Dexterity of hands and fingers to operate a computer keyboard, mouse, and other devices and objects. Physically able to participate in training sessions, presentations, and meetings. 4. Head of Cloud Services, Etisalat - Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates) http://www.linkedin.com/jobs?viewJob=&jobId=3043458&srchIndex=10&trk=njsrch_hits&goba ck=.fjs_*1_*1_*1_Y_ae_*1_*1_1_R_true_*1_*2_*2_*2_ae%3A0_*2_*2_8_*2 Etisalat is the Middle Easts largest operator and the GCCs third largest corporation. With a market value of approximately Dhs. 80 billion (USD 20 billion) and annual revenues of over Dhs. 32 billion (USD 8.7 billion) Etisalat is today on the verge of being numbered amongst the top ten operators in the world Desired Skills & Experience Experience in Cloud product management, product development and commercialization. Experience in managing Cloud products including IaaS, PaaS, SaaS and CaaS across multiple territories Experience in setting and executing Cloud strategies Strong management, planning and organizational skills Strong analytical and problem solving skills Strong knowledge of Cloud services ecosystem and overall Digital services portfolio Sets high personal standards and is goal oriented Excellent communications skills, both orally and in writing

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2.6

Project management and communicative competence Project management in any organisation rests at two levels - the macro and the

micro levels. Modesto and Tichapondwa (2010) pointed out that on the broader macro level, project management ensures that what is undertaken, small or major, is achieved or delivered on time, within budget and complying with specified standards. On the detailed micro level, project management is all about encouraging and nurturing teamwork and participative collaboration in the workplace, ensuring deadlines and budgets are met; reducing cost, managing risks, and ensuring that important documents and information is shared among members of the team. The micro level activities are not as difficult to attain if every member of the team has a common understanding of what needs to be done, where they are headed, and how to get there. This is made possible with communicative competence that ensures a steady stream of information exchange understood by everyone on the team. A project can be defined as a multidisciplinary initiative to bring about change (Baume et al, 2002). The change can be as simple as initiating a procedure alteration in the way certain aspects of an organization does its work and confined to just an office or department, or it can be as monumental as building the worlds tallest skyscraper or longest bridge spanning cities and municipalities. Achieving the change requires meeting a set of specific objectives, within a timescale and an allocated set of resources, and in a given context (community, government, business, etc.). Baume et al (2002) list the attributes of a best of breed project management practice as having the following: 1. a clear purpose that can be achieved in a limited time; 2. a clear end when the outcome has been achieved; 3. resources to achieve specific outcomes; Page | 24

4. a sponsor who expects on-time delivery of outcomes and within budgets,; and All the attributes require that the relevant ideas and information are clearly communicated and understood by stakeholders in the project especially in the areas of decision making, collaborating and understanding the overall task sequences, especially in complex projects (Senescu, Aranda-Mena & Haymaker, 2011). Haughey (2009) defined a stakeholder as anyone or group that has an interest in the project or will be impacted by its deliverables or outcomes. It is important to assess and understand the values that stakeholders have in order to address them properly throughout the project duration. These project stakeholders are the project sponsors, higher management, project team members, 3rd parties involved with supplying and supporting the project and the people, organizations or communities that will be affected by its implementation. The latter could be indigenous tribes or old historic structures that may be displaced by the project. Among the various skills that a project managers needs to have, such as organizational, time and resource management, and the relevant technical skills, competence in communication is considered the most fundamental and critical ingredient to the success of a project (Buehring, 2009). Kerzner (2001) defines communication as the sending and receiving of messages that includes verbal and written messages, how the message is expressed and understood, and the timely exchange of the right information. As Row (2010) pointed out, the main advantages of communication is that it greatly reduces misunderstanding among project stakeholders and team members while fostering teamwork and a healthy social and interactive relationship between them. Sharing knowledge and fostering awareness of what needs to be done and what is expected of each team members through regular and open channels of communication can lead to a more productive involvement that can spell the difference between failure and success of the project (Buehring, 2009). This cannot be served without effective communication skills Page | 25

on the part of project management leaders. In fact, just about every aspect of project management cannot be done successfully without sufficient communication on the part of project manager and the team members (Buehring, 2009). Every activity undertaken in project management is driven with communication competence, whether verbal or written, from start to finish. Communication becomes not only crucial to a project but is considered the lifeblood of any project undertaking, especially one where there is the potential for misunderstanding which is often the cause of failure in a project (Awati, 2008). But it gets more acutely demanding in a multicultural setting occasioned by the globalization perspectives of todays business (Ochieng & Price, 2009). Jehn et al (1999) showed how the communication needs get a proportionate diversity in terms of perspectives, insights, and values when dealing with various cultures in a project. Ochieng & Price (2009) established in their studies of projects in the UK and Kenya that effective cross cultural communication becomes acutely critical as an enabler in a global context where project tasks are undertaken by a workforce with several linguistic and cultural differences. Having the right communication skills to manage cultural differences and potential cross-cultural conflicts as seen in the Jumeirah project is really all about people management (Dainty et al, 2007) with cultural issues as the focus. 2.6.1 Intercultural or cross-cultural communication

Behaviour arising from the influence of culture is basically what defines the differences among team members coming from different lands and poses a potential for disrupting what would otherwise be a smooth project implementation unless properly managed. The level of communication that takes place in a multicultural setting is termed variously as intercultural or cross-cultural communication (Bennett, 1998; ComGAP, 2011). It takes place when persons influenced by differing cultural backgrounds negotiate Page | 26

through shared experiences or situation in an interactive setting such as what would be obtained in a project. One way to define it is to contrast it with monocultural communication where message is sent based on similarities such as a common language and shared values and where such similarities enable people to practice or anticipate responses to certain messages as well as take for granted certain messages based on shared or common assumptions (Bennett, 1998). In cross-cultural commination, these assumption based on similarities rarely exist and there are more messages which cannot be taken for granted. By definition, different cultures have different languages, behavioral motivations and manifestations, as well as biases and values. For this reason, communicative approaches to in a cross-cultural setting need to assume a wider perspective encourage the acceptance of difference. 2.6.2 Where Communication is needed in Project Management

After having asserted that project management cannot do without communication skills, the following is an explicit breakdown of the major areas or tasks where communication strategies are necessary (Kerzner, 2011 and Ochieng et al, 2009) in any project management undertaking, whether monocultural or multicultural in composition. Initial Project Planning Documenting the project charter containing its rationale, manpower and resource requirements, duration and other details needed to operationalize a project is basic to initiating a project for which management approvals are secured prior to starting a project. This is both a written and oral communication exercise that often spells the difference between approval the project or not. Project objective setting and managing expectations Eective project communication needs to establish from the start what the team members can expect in terms of having clearly delineated lines of authority, Page | 27

accountability, responsibility, problem and conflict resolution channels, deliverables and sanctions for failures. Project Team Development The need for a project team to work as one like a sports team cannot be overstated and communication is paramount in enabling the Project Manager to foster this which gets more demanding with multi-ethnic groups in the team. Smith & Imbrie (2005) point to team development and understanding the dynamics of interpersonal relationships in a group as critical in any project management. Performance assessment of individual team members requires tactful communication skill and even a level of psychological skill to manage potentially damaging self-esteem and expectations. In addition, the use online collaboration tools that harness each team members skills to improve on shared documents is an added dimension to the team spirit and will require a common language to achieve. Project Status Updates Performance updates to higher management as well as getting status updates from the project team members comprise the routine tasks expected in monitoring the progress of any project undertaking. Several techniques can be used
for the purpose such as end of day, weekly and monthly performance reviews, actual versus planned accomplishments using PERT/CPM, variance analysis in actual vs. budget reporting, change requests, risk analysis and problem solving, dispute resolution reports, and trend analysis. All these require significant verbal and written communication skills.

Failure Reporting Considered part of project status updates, major failures and problems that

adversely affect the progress of the project or require greater resource allocation as Page | 28

a result needs to be communicated to the project stakeholders and higher management. This requires some diplomatic tact as well negotiation skill in the communication process to secure approval or buy-in from higher management. Situations such as this have political implication where vest interested from various stakeholders will wants to extract the most value out of their involvement in the project (Awati, 2008). Conflict Management In any aggrupation of people, whether in social, political or business circles, conflicts are bound to develop between certain individuals or between groups. Differing opinions, values and beliefs among locals in a team can already trigger conflicts and this achieves a heightened dimension between multi-racial folks mixed in a group. Resolving disputes among the ranks is a major task of business managers and it gets more complicated when project managers deal with multicultural elements within his or her project team. Again, the issue of politics enter the picture and proper communication that can weather the storms arising from internal conflicts as well as those occasion with external parties such as suppliers and support corporate departments will be needed (Awati, 2008). Collaborative Project Engagement Increasing project complexity such as those in telecommunications, infrastructure, and construction project tend to further complicate the need for communication, most especially in multicultural projects. This complexity fuels a heightened demand for the use of technology solutions in riding through the communication effort (Senescu et al, 2011). There are now several collaborative online tools that allow project team members to post or upload project-related documents to a site for purposes of being shared to other team members and enable Page | 29

collaborative updating that benefits all team members. Collaboration will require a common ability to input changes to documents which require understanding and crafting the right use of language used in the documents so that they can be read and understood by team members.

2.7

The Challenge in Cross-Cultural Communication Several project management challenges that benefit from effective communication

have been shown to confront project managers regardless of cultural heterogeneity (Behfar et al, 2006). These include, adhering to project objectives, work rules, acceptable project team relationships and behavior, as well as the style of message delivery. However, Behfar et al (2005) indicated that culturally diverse teams create complexities in terms of culture-bound perspectives, perceptions of what is respectable behavior and level of fairness among team members, gender valuation especially with regards women, religious practices and language fluencies. 2.7.1 Understanding Non-Verbal Cues

While the structural components of language are important, the social aspects of communication are even more critical. This involves understanding the expressions that affect the social dimension of communication or what is termed as non-verbal cues that have meaning outside of their literal abstract representations in literal language (Lewis, 2006). Cassel, Nakano, Bickmore, Sidner and Rich (2007) indicated that nearly threequarters of descriptive discourses come with non-verbal gestures. Vintean (2007) pointed out that the skill of understanding non-verbal communication is often about understanding the feeling of people, their attitudes, prejudices and beliefs which comprise much of the underlying meanings behind deal-making, negotiations and diplomatic entanglements. This becomes more heightened when dealing with people from disparate cultures. Page | 30

2.7.2

Developing ethnorelativity or Intercultural sensitivity

Being ethnocentric has no place in a multicultural project management. It means being comfortable working within the confines of the culture one has been born and raised (Bennett, 1998). On the other hand, as Bennett (1998) define it, being ethnorelative means having the intercultural sensitivity to adapt to ones judgements and actions to various interpersonal settings where different people from different backgrounds congregate and must share a common objective. Being able to recognize and accept this variability in culture-based behavior is the first step in adapting to the reality and create the seeds of ethnorelativity vital in managing multicultural projects. 2.7.3 Enhancing second language capability

As of 2006, the Commonwealth Nations Research Society (CNRS, 2008) reported on its website that there were about 375 million native English speakers (US, UK, Canada Australia and New Zealand), and a total of over 1.5 billion native and non-native English speakers worldwide. Can the UAE educational system go wrong teaching English as a second language (ESL) to its Emirati citizens? Given the data on foreign contractual workers and migrants provided in Figures 2 and 3, teaching ESL could provide strategic advantage to Emirati citizens and further bring the country to greater global attractiveness.
Table 4: Countries with English as a stated official language or widely spoken (Sources CNRS, 2008) Arab Country Bahrain Bangladesh China Asian Country African Countries LANGUAGES Arabic, English, Farsi, Urdu Bangla (official), English Mandarin 70%, English 23%, Wu (Shanghainese), Yue (Cantonese), Min, Xiang, Gan, Hakka, Zhuang (Thai), Mongolian, Tibetan, Uyghur (Turkic), Hmong, Korean Tetum, Portuguese (official); Bahasa Indonesia, English; other indigenous languages, including Tetum, Galole, Mambae, and Kemak Arabic (official), English and French widely understood by educated classes Ethiopia Amharic, Tigrigna, Orominga, Guaragigna, Somali, Arabic, English, over 70 others

East Timor Egypt

Page | 31

Gambia Ghana

English (official), Mandinka, Wolof, Fula, other indigenous English (official), African languages (including Akan, MoshiDagomba, Ewe, and Ga) Hindi 30%, English 31%, Bengali, Gujarati, Kashmiri, Malayalam, Marathi, Oriya, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, Kannada, Assamese, Sanskrit, Sindhi (all official); Hindi/Urdu; 1,600+ dialects Bahasa Indonesia (official), English, Dutch, Javanese, and more than 580 other languages and dialects Arabic (official), English Korean, English widely taught Arabic (official), English Arabic (official), French, English, Armenian

India

Indonesia Jordan Korea, South Kuwait Lebanon Liberia Malaysia

English 20% (official), some 20 ethnic-group languages Bahasa Melayu (Malay, official), English, Chinese dialects (Cantonese, Mandarin, Hokkien, Hakka, Hainan, Foochow), Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Panjabi, Thai; several indigenous languages (including Iban, Kadazan) in East Malaysia

Namibia Nauru Nepal Nigeria Oman Pakistan

English 7% (official), Afrikaans is common language of most of the population and of about 60% of the white population, German 32%; indigenous languages: Oshivambo, Herero, Nama Nauruan (official), English Nepali 48% (official), Maithali 12%, Bhojpuri 7%, Tharu 6%, Tamang 5%, others. English spoken by many in government and business (2001) English (official), Hausa, Yoruba, Ibo, Fulani, and more than 200 others Arabic (official), English, Baluchi, Urdu, Indian dialects Urdu 8%, English (both official); Punjabi 48%, Sindhi 12%, Siraiki (a Punjabi variant) 10%, Pashtu 8%, Balochi 3%, Hindko 2%, Brahui 1%, Burushaski, and others 8% Filipino (based on Tagalog), English (both official); eight major dialects: Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilocano, Hiligaynon or Ilonggo, Bicol, Waray, Pampango, and Pangasinense Arabic (official); English a common second language Kinyarwanda, French, and English (all official); Kiswahili in commercial centers Sinhala 74% (official and national), Tamil 18% (national), other 8%; English is commonly used in government and spoken competently by about 10% Thai (Siamese), English (secondary language of the elite), ethnic and regional dialects

Philippines

Qatar Rwanda Sri Lanka

Thailand Uganda United Arab Emirates Vietnam

English (official), Ganda or Luganda, other Niger-Congo languages, Nilo-Saharan languages, Swahili, Arabic Arabic (official), Persian, English, Hindi, Urdu Vietnamese (official); English (increasingly favored as a second language); some French, Chinese, Khmer; mountain area languages (Mon-Khmer and Malayo-Polynesian)

Page | 32

Zambia Zimbabwe

English (official); major vernaculars: Bemba, Kaonda, Lozi, Lunda, Luvale, Nyanja, Tonga; about 70 other indigenous languages English (official), Shona, Ndebele (Sindebele), numerous minor tribal dialects

Table 4 shows several countries in the Arab world along with several Asian and African nations, many of which have workers that comprise the migrant worker demographics of the UAE, have adopted English as stated or implicit official language status or at least widely understood and spoken. Almost all the Arab countries have a high level of English literacy, along with India, the Philippines, Pakistan, Bangladesh and most African countries which show a high level of ESL proficiency. The UAE can benefit from teaching ESL to its citizens, which is already being actively pursued. Recent official acts of the Ministry of Education along with the Abu-Dhabi Educational Council have placed greater emphasis on ESL starting in grade schools with the introduction of technology to promote learning in all schools in the emirates (Ismail et al, 2012). Hence, this is a clear indication that it makes sense for companies operating in the UAE to have their staff trained in ESL or further develop those who already use ESL to a lesser or greater degree in their work. 2.8 Advantages and benefits of a Multicultural Project team Not all are problems when talking about multicultural projects. The same attributes of cultural diversity that potentially could spawn communication barriers also provide significant advantage to a project. Maznevski (1994) and McLeod & Lobel (1992) pointed out that cultural diversity offers entirely different perspectives and skill sets that can generate more high quality ideas in a brainstorming session to resolve project issues that would not emerge in a mono-cultural setting. Jackson et al (1992) confirms this by showing that multicultural teams are often more productive than homogenous Page | 33

teams when identifying problems and generating solutions. But from both ends of the picture, communication remains a vital tool or avenue to smoothen relationships on one end and serving as the conduit to get those ideas understood and implemented. 2.9 Summary The literature review highlighted the significant exposure of the UAE to a culturally diverse society where majority of its residents have settled in the country from various other nations within the Middle East and Asian continents, apart from the migrant workers that have been attracted to the countrys various job opportunities in various infrastructure projects. Given this multicultural diversity that not only permeate UAE society but is also present in the infrastructure and business projects in the public and private sectors of the nations, there is a clear impetus for UAE project managers to exercise significant communicative competence in managing the disparate peoples comprising the various projects that businesses in the country often undertake. This communicative competence calls for a second language such as English that serves as a second language with which the disparate ethnic groups in a project team can understand the information that needs to be communicated within the group. 2.9.1 Conceptual Framework Based on the literature review discussed in the preceding sections of this chapter, a clear conceptual framework emerges which will be used to confine and delineate the subsequent primary data collection process that the study undertakes. Figure 4 graphically represents the role of communication in successfully delivering project management expectations in the context of UAEs multi-ethnic society that has likewise defined the work environment that project managers deal with. After completing this secondary data collection process in creating the conceptual framework of the study, the subsequent

Page | 34

sections detail the primary data collection meant to further explore the value of communication in a multicultural project management setting in the UAE.

Figure 4: Conceptual Framework

UAE: Culturally Diverse Work Environment Successful Multicultural Projects

Collaborative Teamwork and Cross-cultural Understanding

Intercultural Communicative competence: Intercultural sensitivity ESL (verbal cues from structured language) Social communication (nonverbal cues)

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Research Methodology
The preceding chapter presented the secondary data collection that created the

conceptual framework within which to embark on the primary data collection method discussed in this chapter. As it involves the analysis of communication skills practiced in the context of UAEs multicultural project management in the context of its pursuit in achieving the goals of Vision 2021, the data collection methodology involves the need to take the pulse of real-world project managers in at least one industry to confirm or reject the research hypotheses that communication is key to achieving success in a multicultural project that is quite common in a culturally diverse society across the UAE. 3.1 Research Design and Methodology The paper uses both qualitative and quantitative approaches to answer the research questions. The two methods are not exclusive and while the paper is more qualitative in its assessments, particularly in the interview part of the primary data collection, it presents the survey results quantitatively to identify the themes that have emerged. Pie charts and bar graphs have been used in the demographics part. Since the nature of the study is more of an investigative behavioral inquisition to establish the value of communication to answer the research questions, an unstructured qualitative research design was used. This is often the preferred approach in social science enquiries that need to go beyond statistical quantification and provides the empirical set of data that explains certain trends or phenomenon (Kumar, 2011 and Kothari, 1985). Hence, the motivation behind, nature and the extent of the communication skills as used by the sampled project managers readily lends to a qualitative approach to arrive at a thematic body of opinions and insights as summarized in the last chapter. On the other hand, the results from the survey are

Page | 36

quantitatively assessed to determine the dominant responses to each variables or questions and presented in tables or charts as appropriate. 3.1.1 Data Collection

The paper uses the qualitative approach in gathering the insights of project managers in assessing their insights on the role and value of communication to achieve the objectives of projects geared towards nation building. It uses a purposive but simplified survey questionnaire on the Likert scale targeting 80 project managers in several UAE companies known to have several ongoing projects in the country. This data collection method is augmented by direct interviews that targeted 20 senior project managers who have successfully completed major projects over the last 10 years or more. Alternative data collection methods were considered such as multiple focus group and observation approaches which are also viable data collection techniques. The multiple focus group approach was ruled out as it required gathering a group of UAE company managers and staff at a predetermined schedule which may not be consensually easy to arrive at, thereby retarding the response rate. The observation approach needs the research team to be present in an actual project management site and monitoring how project managers deal with various nationalities in the project. This is more suited in a case study approach for one or two projects but will require observation over weeks or months beyond what is allocated for the research. The survey questionnaire was the most feasible as it allowed the target respondents to respond at their convenience within the shortest specified timeframe. 3.1.2 The Survey Questionnaire

This study evaluated responses from the surveyed project managers on their experiential insights on the role and value of communication skills in a multicultural project setting. Primary data collection was served by a purposive set of carefully worded Page | 37

questionnaire as presented in Annex A. It was structured using simple, direct and unique closed ended questions on a 5-point Likert scale that measured the level of importance of or agreement to the questions as the case may be (Frary, 1996). The simplicity was designed to encourage a high response rate and not cause intimidation as some elaborate questionnaires tend to do (Vehovar & Lozar, 2008). With five dimensions to be explored and several variables in each, the structure of the questionnaire is presented in Table 5
Table 5: Survey questionnaire structure

Dimensions 1 Demographics 2 Project Management Experience 3 Importance of Project Management Skills 4 Project Management Area Where Communication is Important 5 Cross-Cultural Communication Skills

Variables 7 2 3 5 6

3.1.3 Interviews Personal direct interviews were conducted with select project managers among the survey respondents. Annex B presents the interview prompts with just four questions to guide the research in gathering information from the interviewees. The interview was done after the results of the survey questionnaire came in and was used to clarify and expound on the responses of select individuals, notably the senior project managers with more than 10 years of experience. The period for the interviews was indicated in the invites with a request for the participants to indicate their chat addresses or phone numbers over which the interview was conducted as well as the preferred date and time for their availability. The respondents were made aware that their responses were recorded their insights comprised the primary data, along with questionnaire responses to support or disprove the content in the literature chapter as discussed in the preceding chapter. The results of the interview were individually assessed, and shared or common insights were grouped to form a thematic body of opinions that comprised the qualitative results of the study. Page | 38

3.1.4

Data Analysis

The questionnaire results were tabulated in MS Excel and the distribution of responses over the questions was analyzed in terms of preponderance or commonly shared responses. The responses to each question were quantified in terms of frequency and percentages and were represented visually through pie charts and bar graphs where appropriate. The quantitative aspect of the research ended here and the results were qualitatively assessed to reveal the common themes that dominated the survey results, particularly in the interview section where the gathered insights were studied, and categorized into groups to reveal a thematic body of opinions which not only affirmed the results of the survey questions but provided additional insights in the results.. The salient insights were summarized according to major themes as presented in answer to the research questions 3.1.5 Qualification of the sampled

The sample size was confined to a random sampling of 80 UAE project managers and management staff who have had past and present involvement in multicultural projects in four property development and construction industries in the Metro Dubai area. The list of project managers was requested from an initial visit to four companies with headquarters in the city. Other companies known to engage in multicultural projects were also considered but none responses to the invite or failed to be received within the allotted time. Each project manager in the interview list which was gathered from an initial visit to these companies with a request to participate in the survey have had at least 10 years of experience managing teams of professionals and laborers from more than two countries. 3.1.6 Survey Invitation Process

With the expressed permission of their respective organizational heads to which their report directly, all the identified project managers were provided with survey invites Page | 39

along with the consent form. The invites contained the researchers email address for which they were requested to respond back as an indication of their consent to participate in the survey and interview. Once received, the emailed consent was responded to with a return email of the answered questionnaire. Some of invitees were also requested to participate in an interview session with attached schedules for which they either accepted or requested for some changes. Response rate was hoped to be at least 60% of the respondents in both survey and interviews as gathered from the four select companies. 3.2 Research Ethics The study followed accepted principles of voluntary participation and confidentiality of gathered data in any survey as mandated by the universitys ethical research guidelines. Informed consent was among of the primary considerations in any research that involved adults as respondents (Kimmel, 2007 and this research provided prospective participants with an emailed consent form prior to administering the survey questionnaire and interview. Anonymity was strictly observed as survey respondents did not have to indicate their names in the answered questionnaire returned by email. And while the names of select respondents in the interview were known to the researcher, anonymity was assured as respondent names were not divulged in the research paper. 3.3 Limitations The survey questionnaire as a data gathering method usually has a low fulfillment or response rate. However, a high sampling size often generates enough respondents to create confidence in the survey results. Holbrook et al. (2005) studied more than 80 US national surveys with response rates ranging from 5% to 54% and found no significant correlation between response rates and the quality of responses. In fact, some surveys with low response rates (in the 20%- 30% range) showed relatively higher accurate measurements than those with higher (60% -70%) response rates (Visser, et al., 1996). In Page | 40

general, despite a lack of empirical evidence to back it up, a higher response rate is traditionally preferred. A research is also as good as its results are relevant. Kumar (2011) pointed out that a study is just a snapshot, a cross sectional assessment of a phenomenon or situation conducted at a specific period of time and whose findings are valid only within a limited timeframe. This study collected and evaluated individual insights, values and judgments from sampled population on the relevance of communication skills to get through project imperatives in the context of the UAE governments vision 2021. Most of the insights gathered can easily be overtaken by new developments, both in the areas of communication technologies and its socio-political model. In addition, project management disciplines may change over the period leading up to 2021. In short, the study is valid only until such times as these new and emerging trends project management and communications render the results of the study as outdated.

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4
4.1

Findings
Survey and Interview Responses Of the 80 executives from the four property development companies targeted for

survey, 35 responded. This puts the response or fulfillment rate at 43.75%. This is considered high when using survey questionnaire data collection method as most surveys have a fulfillment rate of 30% or below. The quality of responses is almost perfect, with just a three respondents failing to complete the survey with a few questions unanswered. Of the 20 invited for interview, 11 accepted and were scheduled for interview, but two backed out due to some unplanned work requirements at the last minute. With nine respondents to the interview, a 45% response rate was achieved. This was enough

considering that saturation was reached on the 7th interview where the last two responses yielded no new thematic outcome. 4.2 Results of the Survey 4.2.1
Figure 5: Gender

Part A: Demographics Majority of the respondents were

male at 88.6% which closely represents the male-dominated employment in managerial positions in the UAE corporate landscape.
Figure 6: Civil Status

Most of the respondents were

married at 65.7% which reflects the high demand placed by UAE society on having a family. This may be attributed to the observation that companies generally

promote staff whose marital status reflect on their maturity to be responsible

managers where they are assigned. Page | 42

Figure 7: Income

Most of the respondents at 41.8%

belong to the middle income group with 14.5% indicating they were in the high income brackets which are the more senior managers.
Figure 8: Age distribution

As may be expected, majority

were in their 30 40 age group at 48.5%, closely followed by respondents in the 4050 age group representing 31.4%. This is indicative of the high level of experience of the respondents with the company at the project management level.

Figure 9: Education

Majority of the project managers

at 60% have completed undergraduate degrees and the rest have post graduate degrees. Only 7.3 % of the respondents

have less than 5 years of experience in


Figure 10: Experience (years) in project management

managing multicultural projects. The rest have 10 years or more.

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4.2.2 2a

Part B: Multicultural Project management experience

What is the percentage of multicultural projects you have handled over the total projects in a given year or over the last 12 months?

Figure 11: Multicultural projects handled by respondents

Figure 11 shows that most project

5.7%

8.6%
less than 50% between 50% and 75% between 75% and 100% 100%

managers surveyed (51.4%) have managed multicultural projects 100% of the time in their

34.3% 51.4%

current job position during the last 12 months. Another 34.3% claims to have handled multicultural projects at between half and 75% of all the projects they have managed. Together this constitutes a clear majority of around 85.7% managing multicultural projects most of the time and this preponderance of multicultural projects confirmed that dominance of multicultural projects in the UAE as discussed in the literature section. 2b Are you bi-lingual or capable of communication in a second language such as English? And if so, how proficient are you in a second language?

Figure 12: Second language competence of respondents

The results reveal that with the exception of three project managers in the sample, all respondents have bi-lingual communication

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competencies with 45.7% admitting full literacy in the second language (not necessarily English though this is in the majority), while the rest have limited literacies or will need further enhancements. 3 Relative Importance of Project Management Skills Table 6 presents the results of the survey in ranking three major project management skills and shows that all three occupy a high valuation in the perspective of the sampled project managers in the four Dubai-based property development companies. But among the three, communication skill has the slight edge with 97% of the respondents indicating it is a very important dimension in project management.

Table 6: Ranking of three major project management skills


Very important, almost indispensable Important and very basic to the task 4 Not Not so sure important of its but is nice importance to have 3 2 Not important and can be dispensed with 1

Value

Weight/value
1 Management skills or the ability to work within

the approved resources of people, equipment, and time constraints % weighted 2 Technical skills, or the ability to grasp and communicate the engineering requirements of a project to team members % weighted 3 Communication skills to lead the team towards an understanding of what is expected of each team member and the common goal. % weighted

19 0.54 2.71 21 0.60 3.00 22 0.63 3.14

14 0.40 1.60 12 0.34 1.37 12 0.34 1.37

1 0.03 0.09 1 0.03 0.09

1 0.03 0.06 1 0.03 0.06 1 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00

4.46

4.51

0.00 0.00

0.03 0.06

0.00 0.00

4.57

Cross Cultural Communication Skills Results of this part of the survey is presented in Table 7 which pointed to the

ability to manage cultural diversity as having the highest importance as indicated by 60% of the respondents. This was followed closely by the ability to use English as second language, and the ability to use this second language to inspire teamwork. The ability to Page | 45

train foreign workers got the lowest ranking which hinted to the fact that while project managers can provide coaching to team members, the training aspect is not a primary responsibility of project managers and that HR or other 3rd party language training schools are better tapped for this purpose. Nevertheless, majority of the respondents ranked it as important part of communication skills, though not as important as the others.
Table 7: Ranking of importance of specific communication skills in a multicultural project
Very important, almost indispensable Important and very basic to the task 4 Not Not so sure important of its but is nice importance to have 3 2 Not important and be dispensed with 1

Value

Weight/Value 1 Ability to train foreign workers to speak in the local or second language that can be understood and spoken by the nationals in a team % weighted 2 Ability to communicate in a second language (English) that is understood by most foreign workers in a team % weighted 3 Ability to understand the needs, concerns and reactions of team members through contextual non-verbal language. % weighted 4 Ability to inspire teamwork through effective teambuilding exercises % weighted 5 Ability to understand the cultural diversity in a team and make allowances for such diversities to accommodate religious, social and cultural practices and biases. % weighted

9 0.26 1.29 19 0.54 2.71 15 0.43 2.14 14 0.40 2.00

11 0.31 1.26 13 0.37 1.49 11 0.31 1.26 15 0.43 1.71

2 0.06 0.17 1 0.03 0.09 2 0.06 0.17 4 0.11 0.34

9 0.26 0.51 2 0.06 0.11 3 0.09 0.17 2 0.06 0.11

4 0.11 0.11

3.34

0.00 0.00 4 0.11 0.11

4.40

3.86

0.00 0.00

4.17

21

11

0.60 3.00

0.31 1.26

0.06 0.17

0.03 0.06

0.00 0.00

4.49

Project Management Areas where Communication is Important Surveying the insights about the areas in a multicultural project undertaking where

communication plays an important part resulted in close ranking among the areas that have been randomly selected from those indicated in Section 2.4.2. Table 8 presents the results with management presentations on justifying new resources as taking the most important Page | 46

area in project management where suitable communication skills can make a difference. d. This is followed closely by conflict management which recognizes the social interactivity among diverse ethnic groups as potential sources of misunderstanding and eventual conflict if not addressed immediately using appropriate language that the parties can understand. The least important area is project planning which may be explained by the fact that this is more of a responsibility taken by the project manager prior to the project engagement itself.
Table 8: Ranking of importance of specific project management areas where communications plays a vital role.
Very important, almost indispensable Important and very basic to the task 4 Not Not so sure important of its but is nice importance to have 3 2 Not important and be dispensed with 1

value

Weight 1 Project planning (developing the projedt charter for management approcal) % weighted 2 Project status updates and weekly appraisal meetings % weighted 3 Conflict management to resolve team member disputes or problems. % weighted 4 Change management where stakeholders affected by project are briefed on the importance of the project as well as solutions to any foreseen problems. % weighted 5 In process justification for any failures in tasks and deliverables. % weighted 6 Presentation to management to justify changes to project budget allocation and deliverables % weighted

9 0.26 1.29 11 0.31 1.57 15 0.43 2.14 11 0.31 1.57 14 0.40 2.00 15 0.43 2.14

14 0.40 1.60 21 0.60 2.40 19 0.54 2.17 14 0.40 1.60 19 0.54 2.17 20 0.57 2.29

2 0.06 0.17 1 0.03 0.09 1 0.03 0.09 3 0.09 0.26 1 0.03 0.09

6 0.17 0.34 2 0.06 0.11

4 0.11 0.11 3.51

0.00 0.00

4.17

0.00 0.00 6 0.17 0.34 1 0.03 0.06

0.00 0.00 1 0.03 0.03

4.40

3.80

0.00 0.00

4.31

0.00 0.00

0.00 0.00

0.00 0.00

4.43

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4.2.3

Interview Results

The interviews conducted on a face-to-face session were captured on a mobile phone recorder and transcribed verbatim with some corrections in grammar and vocabulary. There were common insights which were summarized and grouped into themes, and presented in the table below. Only the salient common responses are summaries and presented. 1. What do you think are the most important qualities of a project manager in a multicultural project management setting? And why? Interviewee: 1, 3, Team management skills are the most important. The PM has 4, 8 and 9 the duty to steer the team towards delivering expected outcomes, like a sports team manager, only the demand is greater since you have several nationalities involved. As a PM, the overriding requirement is to lead a ragtag team in fulfilling expected deliverables. A people-centric attitude that values the insights of team members is another quality since how you communicate will depend on this attitude. We're talking about implementing a project by people, not machines. Motivating them towards a common objective is knowing their interests and dispositions and harnessing these towards a common purposive action can make a big difference in the success of a project. Integral to this is the ability of the PM to understand non-verbal communication among other nationalities as they often go beyond what is spoken or the literal meaning of word

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The ability to foster teamwork through a people-centered appreciation of ones team members is the common theme among interviewees in this question. This is one quality that involves communication skills to enable the PM to understand the dynamics behind team development so that a common understanding about what is important in a project can be achieved. The skill is not limited to communicating in a language that everyone in the team understands such as English, but is also about understanding the social implications of non-verbal language cues that transcend structural limits of language. Interviewee: 2, 5, and 7 Communication skills are the most important. Information is the lifeblood of any organised effort working to achieve a common object. Information dissemination through sufficient communication skills makes the PM a facilitator and a conduit to achieve and maintain smooth information flow that is important in any project management effort. Communication and information go together as the smooth flow of information being sent, processed and received by a person is what communication is all about. This flow becomes even more difficult to maintain in a team made up of various nationals speaking in various tongues but have to understand each other as they work together. Information is circulated and generated in project activities, from objectives, plans, issues, risks, problems, deliverable expectations, timeline, failures, and project status, a good PM should be able to communicate the relevant information to all team members as applicable.

With team members from various countries, do you think a second language

is a prerequisite to get the project working smoothly? And Why? Page | 49

Interviewee: 1, 3, In today's globalized industries where we operate, it can't be 5, 8 and 9 helped that English becomes part of the communication skills of our management staff that have to deal with our foreign principals and counterparts in many of our construction projects. We deal with workers from a few countries most of which have already a working knowledge of English. We also coordinate with several suppliers in Europe and America and English is an international language. Interviewee: 2, 4, and 7 A second language is a must. Depending on the projects team composition, this can be English. French or Spanish. We have a project management staff trained in these languages and are deployed accordingly. Except for one interviewee whose company prefers to use interpreters in their projects, all interviewees share the same sentiment that a second language is necessary in conducting their project management efforts. They recognize English as an international language and even require it among their management team whose key members are also trained in ESL. Others not only have PMs trained in ESL but also French and other languages as required in their projects.

What problems do you generally encounter when managing multicultural

workforces in a project? And what solutions should be in place to address or prevent them from occurring?

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Interviewee: 1 and Enabling the team to gel as one towards a common objective 8 takes care of 90% of the work needed to succeed in project management. To this end, we embark on team building exercises which, depending on the hierarchies of a project team, can take up to a month prior to actual project work. Again the issue of teamwork emerges but this time, the solution is about embarking on team-building where issues and potential conflicts can be identified and addressed right at the start of any project engagement. Such sessions are communicationintensive and often conducted by a 3rd party resource that is trained in developing human capital in an organization to work as team. Interviewee: 2, 5, A second language is great but one has to distinguish between and 9 the ability to speak and understand the language for everyday causal use and the ability to digest complex technical documents. This is often the problem we encounter and it often takes a few meetings to explain verbally in more casual linguistic style what a document contains and how its details relate to the project. Interviewee 4 Misunderstanding occurs when the PM fails to listen attentively to questions and issues raised by foreign team members, especially in matters of complex technical natures. This reflects the various levels of communicative competence that starts with conversational skill and progresses to the ability to read complex content in a language. The two go together can the ability to read complex technical documents is a must for multicultural projects that are have high technology content. Depending on the project, I have to say that some nationals are

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more problematic than others. In addition, it also depends in what functions they are assigned. Those in management and consultancy positions offer little problems but those in the contractual labor groups have the most, especially among cantankerous Indian nationals who can't seem to get along with other nationals. Filipinos as great and they offer the least

problems. The solution we adopted is to limit ethnic involved to Chinese, Filipinos and Pakistanis who, based on experience, have given us the least headache. This problem may be subjectively perceived and the solution adopted can be seen as biased against certain nationalities or ethnic groups. But one cannot argue over experience when the post-project assessments point to observed empirical difficulties in multicultural projects as being caused repeatedly by certain nationals more than others in a project team. The solution adopted has been to choose the set of overseas contractuals and expatriates that have presented that least problems to the project team. Hence, a level of culture favorites have emerged with prejudices against certain nationals.

4. In your opinion, do you think there is a need to improve the communication skills of project managers in the country to meet the challenge of Vision 2021? If so, in what areas? Interviewee: 1, 6 Projects share similarities that allow some degree of and 8 predictability and we dont need to add to the uncertainties by not structuring and formalizing the communication process so

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that cultural awareness and teamwork are in place right from the start. Misunderstandings are normal but if we train our PMs to be acute aware of cultural nuances within a procedural framework, projects can sail through the communication barriers emerging from cultural diversity. Thats what we do to give us confidence in meeting Vision 2021. The issue of fostering cultural awareness and teamwork surface again but the concept here is to overcome the challenge through a structured and formal approach to communication which can be done through procedural methods such as regular meetings, teambuilding sessions and form-based reporting. Interviewee: 2, 3, The ability to communicate goes beyond casual oracy and into 4, 7, and 9 comprehending complex technical documents and writing detailed reports that can be understood by target stakeholders. It is important that we train our people in the technical aspects of writing and comprehension skills to complete their second language literacy they have acquired from university education. Either that or we get consultants and interpreters who can do the work for us. Reading and writing skills that go beyond oracy is one area that need improvement and project managers who are new in the field can benefit from in-house training to further hone the 2nd language skills. The alternative to use 3rd party interpreters and consultants is always there and may be used to augment the translation or writing of reports depending on the exigencies of the project.

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4.3

Discussion and Summary of Themes Based on the foregoing results from the survey and the interview, several common

or shared insights and opinions have emerged, identified and grouped into themes. This section gathers them and discusses each, as follows:

Theme 1:

Among the many skills in project management, communication figures

as the most important in a multicultural environment, though all the other major skills are not far in importance. This confirms what Baume et al (2002) considers as a multi-disciplinary undertaking in bringing about change and what Modesto and Tichapondwa (2010) described has having both a micro and macro level perspective that requires communication skills for the project to succeed. The respondents have clearly understood this concept which is further elaborated in the second question that ranked the relative importance of the various variables in communication skills where managing cultural diversity and recognizing the need for English as a second language occupied the top two rankings. as indicated by 60% of the respondents. Row (2010) pointed to communication as reducing misunderstanding among project stakeholders and team members while fostering teamwork which is basically the same sentiments expounded in the interviews as being the most important abilities of a project manager.

Theme 2:

A second language such as English is a must among project managers

in a multicultural setting. The globalization of industries has spurred the need to have a common language and in the multicultural setting of the UAE where projects have such a dimension, English has helped to foster understanding and teamwork among project members. It may not Page | 54

always be English and project managers will need to know the cultural background of their constituent members to determine the best second language to use. As Orrill (2010) essayed in his study on the Jumeirah project, a team trained on a second language that can be understood by the majority of multi-ethnic groups in a project team provides an advantage to the company and the survey results clearly echoed this sentiment. The second language is often English which is already being studied by locals as it is the most understood among overseas workers from China, the Philippines, India, and most other nationalities, apart from professionals from the UK and the US that typically get involved in UAE projects. But other languages can be used as well and this depends on the composition of the project team. The French language may be the second language if there are more nationals in the team who speak and understand the language.

Theme 3:

Understanding a second language in a casual verbal interaction is one

thing, but reading documents required in the project is another. Misinterpretations are often countered when project managers assume that because a second language such as English is used often in verbal communication, reading English documents would not be a problem. From the interviews, this theme emerged and confirms what Nunan and Brown has identified as multilevel competence in ESL where reading comprehension skills is the next higher dimension in communicative competence along with the more basic listening skills. Overlooking this aspect of communication can be problematic to a project when, for instance, a document spelling out what needs to be done or specifying materials for a projects are misinterpreted and the work is done wrongly and will need to be reworked later on.

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Theme 4:

Teamwork is important in a project management undertaking and this

is often difficult to achieve without interactive communication. This gets more heightened in a multicultural project where several overseas nationals with disparate cultures, psychologies and frames of references need to have a common understanding tow work as a team. The interview results had been most emphatic on this regard which only confirms what Orrill (2010) reported about communication barriers that have led to conflicts in the Jumeirah project, something that would not have occurred had teamwork been vigorously pursued from the start. Smith & Imbrie (2005) argued for team development and with cultural diversity thrown into the picture, understanding the dynamics of interpersonal relationships becomes even more critical. Towards this end, activities like teambuilding exercises already supported and undertaken by HR in many companies to improve office and departmental productivity, has been raised in the interviews as a solution to teamwork shortfalls and needs to be incorporated into the project management plan as part of its knowledge leveling exercises among team members prior to starting the project work.

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5
5.1

Conclusion
Answering the Research Questions The survey showed that most of the sampled project managers have bi-lingual

communication skills, mostly in English, which is not surprising considering that English is pervasively taught in schools and in nearly all colleges and universities where basic proficiency in the language is a criterion for campus admissions. This skill is further honed with training programs for second language proficiency which are provided by the companies the sampled project managers work with. This proficiency was identified in the survey as an invaluable tool in seamlessly paving the way for projects to succeed with the least communication and cooperation problems. With an open disposition to English and other foreign languages that may be needed to address the communication challenges in a multicultural project, nearly all the sampled project managers were confident that the countrys Vision 2021 can be achieved. The study started out with the hypothesis that communication skills provide a vital management tool in handling cultural diversity in implementing projects. The above answers to the question provide convincing qualitative confirmation that the hypothesis is correct, establishing a positive empirical correlation between communicative competence that puts people and culture management in its focus a and a harmonious working relationship in a multicultural project setting. 5.2 Implications The survey revealed several other dimensions of multicultural project managements and communication skills that can be topic for further research. One is the perception that some overseas nationals are more problematic than others and a research in this area can indeed verify or shed some enlightenment on what aspects of culture can Page | 57

create problems for the host country or its constituent companies or with fellow workers in the project culture mix. The issue may have more than social implication and could possibly have repercussion in the diplomatic dimensions of the country that has global relations with the countries involved. In the area of communications, the levels of competence need to be explored further. Listening skills have been considered as being basic to learning a second language and further research into this area can provide a more complete picture on how this communicative skill makes a difference in managing multicultural projects. On a higher level, the survey showed that it is not enough to have conversational oracy that enables team members to verbally communicate with each other, but the ability to read and write proper documents related to the project is equally essential. A research on this area of communication skills can provide HR with more insights on improving the content of their language training programs. 5.3 Recommendations Based on the foregoing discussion on the emergent themes in the survey, this paper presents a few recommendations that companies can adopt in embarking on multicultural projects that has become inevitable towards the pursuit of the countrys Vision 2021. 5.3.1 Incorporate Bi-Lingual Personnel as Part of Project teams

The interview results further showed the need for a second language which most of the project managers in the survey already revealed to possess. But not all have this ability and some companies though supporting the concept, frequently engage the services of 3rd party consultants and interpreters to help in the communication aspect of their projects. Language experts, consultants or advisers have their place in a major multicultural project and can be harnessed in translating technical documents or helping project managers create more readable and effective project reports for consumption by high level Page | 58

management stakeholders, but having ones own team of project management staff with bi-lingual abilities should be adopted. Almost all universities in the country already require a respectable English proficiency as part of their admission criteria, but enhancing a company engaged in multicultural projects can further enhance this advantage with language training as part of its human capital development programs. 5.3.2 Incorporate Team Building Activities before Starting a Project

The survey theme on team building is most instructive and creates the opportunity for project management to effectively preclude potential social and cultural conflicts right from the start of a project engagement. Several interview responses called for a strong team building exercise in multicultural projects right at the start which can be done within different levels of management and ranks or across both. Team building has often been a key HR tool in developing human capital as it is instrumental in creating the esprit de corps that is essential when a common objective needs to be achieved by various groups or individuals that need to work together. Team building also creates opportunities for various nationalities in a team to interact and foster cultural awareness among each other. The activities often called for in a team building exercise also creates pre-project opportunities to test and explore potential areas of conflict and address them before they are likely to occur during the project implementation. Orrill (2010) in his report about the Jumeirah project also recommended teambuilding exercises at the project onset to bring the disparate nationals to know each other and create the cultural awareness needed in a multicultural project undertaking. Incorporating activities that foster teamwork provides a smooth transition period significantly prior to commencing the project proper. 5.4 Conclusion This paper concludes with a confirmed hypothesis and a satisfactory answer to the research questions. There is no doubt that communicative competence enhanced to Page | 59

handle cultural diversity in a multicultural project management is key to further improving the managerial competence of UAE project managers as local companies embark on achieving the countrys modernization efforts. Perhaps, just as significant is that the research opened up questions that can be settled with future research such as discussed in the section on implications. One of the most important that have emerged from the interview results is to look into the behavior of overseas workers and expatriates and confirm the fears and biases of certain companies who have shown preferences to employ some foreign nationals over others. Not only would such a study settle a social conflict issue in managing cultural diversity, but it has the potential to guide project planners in ensuring that any conflict does not spill out or develop into a diplomatic or political issue that can compromise the countrys international relations. The paper puts forth a couple of recommendations that can help project managers in a seamless transition to achieving the objectives of the project through a more strengthened teamwork and communication skill. While bi-lingual abilities with English or other languages are widely recognized as highly expedient in operationalizing a multicultural project management undertaking, the paper reinforces this conviction with a recommendation to further strengthen this ability among project managers. As revealed in the study, there are still loopholes through which misunderstandings can occur even with a bi-lingual staff and more communication training is required in the areas of reading, writing and listening skills. Lastly, while some companies do engage in teambuilding programs for their staff and project members, this is one effective tool that can benefit every company engaged in multicultural projects. It is the position of this paper that project management can be likened to a group sports endeavor and that the whole country benefits if every social element actively involved in nation building works as a team toward this direction. Every Page | 60

effort should be made to develop teamwork and interactive communication skills in every project engagement to ensure not just meeting project objectives, but that the engagement can serve as an inspiring model for cultural diversity to go beyond differences and act like a unified sports team where differences are cast aside in the interest of cooperative team spirit which, if multiplied on a regional and global scale, can be considered seminal to a more harmonious and productive co-existence among nations.

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Appendices
Annex A: Survey Questionnaire The following are the open and closed ended questions used in gathering the insights of participants and subsequent interviews to further expound on the answers to the questions. Part A: 1 Demographics Pls mark with an X or check the appropriate boxed items and fill out as specified
Name (optional) Gender Male Female Income Level (Annual) Low Medium (Average) Age High Years of experience managing Projects Civil status Single Single w/dependent Married or w/ partner Separated

Highest educational attainment today College

Post-Graduate (Masters)

Doctorate

2 2a

Multicultural project management experience What is the percentage of multicultural projects you have handled over the total projects in a given year? less than 50% between 50% and 75% between 75% and 100% 100%

2b

Are you bi-lingual or capable of communication in a second language such as English? And if so, how proficient are you in a second language? No, not bi-lingual Yes, fully literate in a second language Yes, but still needs to develop my competence. Yes, but only conversational

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Part B 3 Importance of Project Management Skills Pls rank the following skills in terms of importance for a project manager,
Very important, almost indispensable Important and very basic to the task Not so sure of its importance Not important but is nice to have Not important and be dispensed with

1 Management skills or the ability to work within the approved resources of people, equipment, and time constraints 2 Technical skills, or the ability to grasp and communicate the engineering requirements of a project to team members 3 Communication skills to lead the team towards an understanding of what is expected of each team member and fostering cooperation among the team members towards achieving a common goal. 4 Cross Cultural Communication Skills Pls rank the following aspect of communication skills in terms of importance for a project manager
Very important, almost indispensable Important and very basic to the task Not so sure of its importance Not important but is nice to have Not important and be dispensed with

1 Ability to train foreign workers to speak in the local or second language that can be understood and spoken by the nationals in a team 2 Ability to communicate in a second language (English) that is understood by most foreign workers in a team Page | 67

3 Ability to understand the needs, concerns and reactions of team members through contextual non-verbal language. 4 Ability to inspire teamwork through effective teambuilding exercises 5 Ability to understand the cultural diversity in a team and make allowances for such diversities to accommodate religious, social and cultural practices and biases.

Project Management Areas where Communication is Important

Pls rank the following aspect of communication skills in terms of importance for a project manager
Very important, almost indispensable Important and very basic to the task Not so sure of its importance Not important but is nice to have Not important and be dispensed with

1 Project planning (briefing of team members at the start to include objective setting and rules of engagement, deliverables and members responsibilities) 2 Project status updates and weekly appraisal meetings 3 Conflict management to resolve team member disputes or problems. 4 Change management where stakeholders affected by project are briefed on the importance of the project as well as solutions to any foreseen problems. 5 In process justification for any failures in tasks and deliverables. Page | 68

6 Presentation to management to justify changes to project budget allocation and deliverables

Annex B: Interview Prompts

The following are the open ended questions to prompt the researcher in gathering the insights of respondents. This is on top of any other questions the researcher feels can further expound on the answers to the questions in the survey questionnaire sent earlier. 1 What do you think are the most important qualities of a project manager in a multicultural project management setting? And why? 2 With team members from various countries, do you think a second language is a prerequisite to get the project working smoothly? And Why? 3 What problems do you generally encounter when managing multicultural workforces in a project? And what solutions have you implemented or should be in place to address or prevent them from occurring? 4 In your opinion, do you think there is a need to improve the communication skills of project managers in the country to meet the challenge of Vision 2021? If so, in what areas?

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Annex C: Invitation to Participate in the Survey and Interview

Emailed Invitation for the Survey Dear Sir/Madam, Our team in the university is in the processing of assessing the current project management ability of local companies in a multicultural setting where team members and stakeholders coming from several countries need to work together. We would like to invite you to participate in a short survey that would essentially answer our research questions on the role of effective communication has in a multicultural project that we can expect to see more of on the road to Vision 2021. In particular, we need your insights in what project management value in communication in real world situations to assist our understanding of the dynamics of project teamwork we have learned from a theoretical perspective. Should you decide to join our list of respondents, please send us your email address at XXXX@ university.com so we can send the survey questionnaire. Anonymity is assured and your identity and email address will remain in strict confidence. Depending on the results of the survey, you may be asked to participate in an interview that may be conducted in person or over an online video chat facility to be advised in a phone call later on. The period of survey is 15 31 July. We recognize that as executives in a company, you have your commitments to a busy schedule. But we would greatly appreciate it if you could squeeze in 5 minutes of your time for the survey and if chosen, another 30 minutes for the interviews. We look forward to your favorable response. Thank you. Sincerely The Research Team

Emailed Invitation for an Interview Dear Sir/Madam, Thank you for sending us a positive reception to our request for survey. Based on your responses to the survey, we would like to invite you to participate in a short interview to be conducted from 08 August to 15 August. You are welcome to propose a convenient schedule for the interview provided they fall within those dates. The purpose of the interview is to gain a more in-depth insight into the perspective of seasoned project managers about the role of communication in managing a culturally diverse set of project team members. Should you decide to join our list of respondents, to the interview, please respond to this emailed invite with your preferred schedule date and Page | 70

time as well as your contact phone number or chat address. Again, anonymity is assured and your identity and contact points will remain in strict confidence. We recognize that as executives in a company, you have your commitments to a busy schedule. But we would greatly appreciate it if you could accommodate our interview request which should not last more than 30 minutes. We look forward to your favorable response. Thank you. Sincerely The Research Team

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