Does cultural and linguistic diversity have an impact on creativity and innovation performance of teams (in business contexts)? by Corina Moscovich

Does cultural and linguistic diversity have an impact on creativity and innovation performance of teams (in business contexts)?

Research question and its challenges in terms of implementation
The implementation of the research question first involves a conceptual phase, where we read, think and rethink, make theories and revise ideas individually or in a group. We could do a brainstorming, a mindmap, a draft table, a progressive simplification, a research plan, etc. At this stage we could analyze previous empirical research on the topic. We should gather and organise the relevant literature (scientific articles, studies, and books) for our answer. Another crucial step would be giving the relevant literature a closer look in order to check what has been done before on the selected topic, how (what sort of methods were used) and what findings emerged from each study. Secondly, a preparatory phase would follow, by selecting a research design and specifying the centres of interest and making questions, e.g.: Is cultural and linguistic diversity a factor of creativity and innovation in professional contexts? Which is the diversity´s role in innovation? Thirdly, we would state the research themes and goals and the aims of the study. In our case, the purpose is to explore most common types of impact on creativity and innovation performance of teams. This would ultimately reduce the chances of prejudice and wrong judgments in cultural and linguistic diverse teams. The ultimate challenge is to choose the right methodology.

Status quo of research today in the field of multiculturalism/multilingualism´s impact on creativity/innovation performance of teams
It seems that culture and language as factors of innovation in international (business) settings has drawn a modest attention from scholars so far. We share the view that “l´interdisciplinarité est indispensable pour une analyse –critique- des pratiques dans un monde professionnel de plus en plus compétitif, inégalitaire et discriminatoire où la reconnaissance des identités, des compétences et des efforts fournis passe à la trappe dans les courses aux profits e au pouvoir individuels” (Stalder, 2014). To consider collaborative team performance implies thinking about management (role of a leader, attributes of an efficient team or causes of failure, main communication challenges, vision and ambitions) Besides, other elements to judge are: goals and strategies, material and human resources, budget, work plan, efficiency, communication, participation, languages spoken, working climate and ambiance, quality control, group leader, etc. This viewpoint is promising and encouraging for teams: “Misunderstandings resulting from language barriers and socio-cultural differences are everyday occurrences and dominate apparently factual discussions. Cultural diversity can, however, also open up opportunities” (Gassmann, 2001).   

Theoretical concept and the specific definition to rely on  
“Within creative processes transfer of knowledge is ensured if employees make project-related moves between research, development, and production” (Gassmann, 2001). Considering this, we need to define theoretical key concepts related to communication, multiculturalism, multilingualism, innovation and creativity in order to grasp the wide panorama of cultural and linguistic diversity. According to Chen and Starosta, “intercultural communication competence can be conceived of as the ability to negotiate cultural meanings and to execute appropriately effective communication behaviours that recognize the interactants’ multiple identities in a specific environment” (Chen & Starosta, 1996) For a concept of culture, we prefer to stick to a classic but still prevailing one: “Culture, or civilization, taken in its broad, ethnographic sense, is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society” (Burnett Tylor, 1871). As creativity comes first than innovation, we will include the definitions in that order. Creativity is an “imaginative activity fashioned so as to produce outcomes that are both original and of value” (NACCCE 1999: 30, in Marsh & al. 2009, Compendium). Innovation “is not just an economic mechanism or a technical process. It is above all a social phenomenon. Through it, individuals and societies express their creativity, needs and desires. By its purpose, its effects or its methods, innovation is thus intimately involved in the social conditions in which it is produced.” (European Commission, 1995: 11, in Polt & al., 2014) When viewing communication, we do it under the semiotic perspective “Orchestra model” (Palo Alto), which defines it as a complex process in which individuals are constantly immerged.

Methodology for giving empirical evidence
It is possible to practice interviews, observe actors in the field, search archives and libraries, etc. We would use a mixed-methods approach, i.e: an empirical, qualitative and interdisciplinary position within social sciences (Sociology, Anthropology of communication, psychology and linguistics). This would be combined with methods of explanation and understanding, besides externalisation of internal concepts and theories.

Focus and settings
Identity itself is made up of different belongings (personal character, family, social roots, practices, etc). Like culture, identity is always changing. Our focus is on culture, language, meetings, representation, communication and interaction, language practice and strategy, context, policies, etc. Settings where we situate the answer consist mainly of companies, organizations for Higher education (Universities, etc) and Institutions and bodies.

The answer to the research question is: yes, cultural and linguistic diversity have an impact on creativity and innovation performance of teams. But so far, it has not been scientifically proved. “One of the contributions of the DYLAN project consists of providing a detailed description of the steps which characterise the evaluation of language policies.” (Grin and Gazzola, 2010) Besides, the study by Marsh and Hill explains that the scientific findings reveal that here is no definitive single causal link between multilingualism and creativity.  Corina Moscovich
Chen, G.M., & Starosta, W. J. (1996). Intercultural communication competence: a synthesis. Communication Yearbook, 19, 353-383.
Gassmann, Oliver (2001). Multicultural teams: Increasing creativity and Innovation by diversity, in Creativity and innovation management. Volume 10, Number 2.
Grin F. and Gazzola M. (2010) “Assessing efficiency and fairness in language policy and planning”, Applied Linguistics: Global and Local, British Association for Applied Linguistics Annual Conference, University of Aberdeen, UK, 9-11 September 2010.
Marsh avid&al.2009.Study on the Contribution of Multilingualism to Creativity, Compendium Part One, Multilingualism and Creativity: Towards an Evidence base. Brussels: European Commission.
Stalder, P. (20149. Regard éloigné, regard rapproché : l´anthropologie et la linguistique au service de l´identification des stratégies de communication en milieu professionnel international. Dans L. Santone et D. Londei, Entre linguistique et anthropologie. Observations de terrain, modèles d'analyse et expériences d'écriture. Berne: Peter Lang. 
Taylor, Edward (1871) Primitive culture: researches into the development of mythology, philosophy, religion, language, art, and custom. 2 vols. London, John Murray.

The “do nothing” exercise: experiencing being ‘in the field’ by Corina Moscovich

8.29 am: I took the train (Pétange–Luxembourg).
8.39- 8.49 am: I did the “to do nothing exercise” on the way from Dippach-Reckange to Luxembourg.

“Train”-ing to Luxembourg
My standard behaviour on a train is to read or write. Or both. To be seated and forced to do nothing allowed me to turn on almost all my senses.
I chose a double seat and I sat by the window; facing another double seat. The sound of the pages of     L´Essentiel being flicked through, the nervous or shy coughs, some random conversations... The noises seemed to be a little bit more annoying than usual.
There was a moment where there were no people coming or going. It was exactly then when I realised that the lights of the carriage were still on. Through the windows the sun made me a little blind. It was a beautiful sunny morning and I was travelling light, outside my country and without luggage. I thought then of all the times when I was in the same situation but with luggage. The truth is that I still get impressed by people and its variety of shapes, sizes and colors. I see how different we all are, despite belonging all to the same species. It can be an airplane, a bus, a boat, a car or a train: when I am travelling in any means of transport, I observe and think of the people commuting on that trip. That morning I could not help but notice what was happening around and within myself.  
Unusually, the guard did not show up saying “Moien” in a loudly way, as many of his colleagues do. I smiled quietly, more alert to his action than to mine. He just murmured something, while waiting for travel cards, passes and tickets.
Suddenly, two passengers came together from behind and one sat in the double seat in front of me, the other one next to me. They spoke a language that I could not manage to decipher. There was a slight eye contact with one of them: she was wearing a plateau skirt with a tight black belt. In the other seat in front of me, a man with very dark complexion felt asleep over his left arm. His yellow t-shirt made a contrast with his skin. Some seats away, a Chinese man was drinking coffee while reading a tourist brochure of Vianden.
Later, I noticed a girl taking her time to pick her seat in the carriage. It was only when she sat down when I noticed that her hair was disheveled. She kept checking her mobile phone, she looked anxious and tired at the same time.
A quick announcement was made just before leaving Leudelange. The young athletic man standing next to the isle sighed heavily after listening to it, but did not say a word. A teenager got on the carriage and stopped in the first clearing of free space. Other people just rushed to get on ignoring people wishing to get off. The train started to become overcrowded by the time we reached Hollerich.
I wondered what people were thinking about. A mixture of perfumes and smells was dancing above our heads. Someone from a seat not far from mine started to eat a salami sandwich. I felt dizzy.

Some minutes before arriving to Luxembourg, sounds became noise. There was music I would have not chosen to listen to but I felt obliged to do it as the narrow proximity gave me no choice. Passengers started to crowd around doors so as to get off fast. “Go with the flow”, I thought when the train was approaching the platform. “Go... Go with the flow...” 
Corina Moscovich