Project Management Across Cultures

It is said that Henry Gantt (1861–1919) was the “father” of planning and control techniques. Most of us have used a Gantt Chart to plot tasks and time in a program or project. A project is “a prearranged effort to meet predetermined objectives given the constraint of resources — people, expertise, time, money, materials, and energy” (Strauss, 2007). There are three simple stages of management:

  1. Plan – What initiative(s) must we take to solve the problem? When, how, by whom, in what context, for how long, and how much? Plus, other interrogatives!
  2. Implement – Command and control (or, execute and monitor) are accomplished by creating a Critical Path in which tasks are prioritized and benchmarked per resources (listed above).
  3. Evaluate – A project is not terminated until the process and product have been evaluated.

These terms and definitions seem simple enough. However, what about project management across cultures? The reality is that it is anything but simple.

People in different cultures have different assumptions about everything. What is a problem? Who may address it? How? Causality? What role does the spirit world play? Ancestors? To what degree is it common to plan? In what detail? Who is in command? By what identity markers is said person or group in charge? In what ways is it possible to exercise control? What are the criteria for evaluating? And, much more!

Global Perspectives can help. Contact us as you venture across cultures to manage a project.

Dr. Robert Strauss

Dr. Robert Strauss is the Owner of Global Perspective Consulting (GPC). GPC provides consultation to clients and facilitates training in the public, private, and not-for-profit sectors. Dr. Strauss is a member of the International Academy for Intercultural Research (IAIR) and is a Lead Faculty in the Anderson College of Business at Regis University in Denver, Colorado. One of his expertise’s is program development and evaluation across cultures. Follow him on Twitter: @robert_strauss