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The Microsoft Corporation has made enormous contributions towards the advancement of the information age. As a technologies giant, this particular entity has played a significant role in globalisation. As much as the company is based in the US, it has offices in all habitable continents in the world. One can therefore point out that the Microsoft Corporation transcends numerous cultural boundaries to successfully profits from its core business operations (Lenartowicz, Johnson and Konopaske, 2014). Given that it is a world leader in the technologies industry, the corporation’s human resource function only strives to attract the best manpower towards the further development of its operations and the administrative functions to oversee this. The entity is renowned for its multi-cultural workgroups. This essay presents a report for Microsoft’s Human Resource department aimed at outlining the most appropriate means to manage cultural challenges associated with the management of multi-cultural work groups.

Development of multi-cultural competencies

Microsoft prides itself for its global diversity and more so an all-inclusive organizational culture (Lenartowicz, Johnson and Konopaske, 2014).  The company’s human resource department works on a strategy that guides the successful input of other departments within the organization (Lenartowicz, Johnson and Konopaske, 2014). This strategy is aimed at maximising it business influence of inclusiveness and global diversity so as to empower work groups to progressively transform its organizational culture towards unrivalled customer satisfaction (Mazzei and Ravazzani, 2012).

The world is currently guided by a new order which has been fostered through transformations in the socioeconomic, political, technological and cultural advances (Meeussen, Otten and Phalet, 2014). The new world order has been characterised the international flow of people, trade and more so, ideas (Cheng, Chua, Morris and Lee, 2012). The new internationalisation environment can only be regarded as a huge opportunity for the progressive minded individuals and entities to take up and benefit from the diversity that is now common in the global context (Skeldon, 2012). However, countries, regions, communities and even corporations are embracing these transformations at their own unique pace (Lauring and Selmer, 2012). As such, globalisation as the new order of internationalisation is referred to as, has put greater emphasis on the establishment of plurilingual and bilingual programmes, language education in communities and societies that were predominantly monolingual (Lauring and Selmer, 2012).

On a similar note, workplaces are continuously been impacted upon by the movement of people across national boundaries such that, organisations are increasingly becoming internationalised workplaces (Adnan, Akram and Akram, 2013). Microsoft as a leading entity in the international information technology sector and as such, many well educated, skills and talented individuals from all regions around the globe seek to work with this iconic corporation (Lenartowicz, Johnson and Konopaske, 2014); (Mazzei and Ravazzani, 2012); (Cheng, Chua, Morris and Lee, 2012). Indeed, the employees at Microsoft come from vast regions with unique cultural backgrounds and as such, the work environment at the companies numerous offices are abound with multi-cultural workgroups.

The corporation’s workforce in this age of technological advances is not only smaller than what was witnessed in the past but also richer in cultural diversity, empowered and by extension, far more autonomous (Bebeau and Thoma, 2013). These workgroups have become smaller as they are more skilled and empowered towards carrying out multi-layered responsibilities on an international as well as virtual arena (Mazzei and Ravazzani, 2012). As such, human resource managers should critically comprehend the fact that the multi-cultural workgroups ought to have robust competencies concerning adaptability, problem solving learning agility and ultimately, innovation (Bebeau and Thoma, 2013).


The unfortunate fact is that these competencies are simply in short supply and as such, are highly sought after (Meeussen, Otten and Phalet, 2014). It is critical to appreciate that the operating environment for multi-national corporations are evolving at a much faster pace. Such a situation has presented human resource departments such as the one at Microsoft with significant problems (Lenartowicz, Johnson and Konopaske, 2014). The problem concerns the ever growing complexity towards enhancing developmental stages of the labour force (Skeldon, 2012). As such, the human resource department should seek to counter this challenge by defining the form of developments envisaged, how to measure such and ultimately how this can be comprehensively achieved.

In managing multi-cultural workgroups, the primary concept to be comprehensively looked into by the human resource department at Microsoft revolves around intercultural competence (Lenartowicz, Johnson and Konopaske, 2014). It is critical to point out that the term intercultural competence tends to compete with similar terms like cultural intelligence as well as global mind-set (Meeussen, Otten and Phalet, 2014). Simply put, competencies are best described in behavioural terms that is, how individuals do thigs. Managers of multi-cultural workgroups have to undertake complex tasks which involve decision making, problem solving, and by extension, managing their multi-cultural workgroups depending on their interpretation of the contemporary environment. Competencies are therefore impacted upon by both the external as well as internal components (Meeussen, Otten and Phalet, 2014). The components include behaviour, knowledge and attitude.

Kegan five phase model for human development

The human resource department at Microsoft should therefore work towards ensuring that these components are highly regarded by managers of multi-cultural workgroups. For instance, an attitude exuding openness enables managers to appreciate and pay closer attention to novel things and more so, make appropriate decisions on how to constructively relate with them (Meeussen, Otten and Phalet, 2014). Contrary to having such an attribute, a manager overseeing a multi-cultural workgroup will probably reject or otherwise ignore such new things. Openness fosters curiosity which in turn leads to novel information which when comprehensively organised translates to new knowledge (Meeussen, Otten and Phalet, 2014). Such novel knowledge then serves to guide managers of multi-cultural workgroups to appreciate and embrace the novel and more competent behaviours within the workspaces. Such outcomes allow for managers of multi-cultural groups to processes greater complexities, consider more factors into account when reaching at final decisions, analyse contradictory tendencies and as such, comprehensively process the consequent negotiation. This in essence translates to a developmental change that transcends the simple process of learning or information acquisition (Meeussen, Otten and Phalet, 2014).

One can therefore comprehensively accept the fact that developmental transformations occur in precise and discreet phases whereby each phase can be deemed as a competency level. The measure these levels of competency, the insightful Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) which is founded on the theoretical scale referred to as Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity (DMIS) is employed (Meeussen, Otten and Phalet, 2014). This particular model presents five stages of measuring competency levels from the lowest to the most developed. These are denial, polarisation, minimization, acceptance and adaptation.

Denial: The contemporary society that includes corporations, governments and even education systems accept that all human beings are similar (Meeussen, Otten and Phalet, 2014). As such, any substantial human difference tends to arouse denial of humanity’s multi-cultural inclinations, fear as well as a high probability violent actions to counter perceived threats (Stuart, 2012). Fortunately, this is rarely witnessed in workspaces.

Polarisation: This is a phase where detrimental attitudes concerning human differences are common such that societies become polarised to term others as them while referring to themselves as us (Meeussen, Otten and Phalet, 2014). For the ‘us’ group polarization is positive while for the other presumably different group, polarization is negative. It is critical to point out that the existence of diversity in workplaces over the past few decades has worked to eliminate this negative aspect.

Minimization: this is one of the positive outcomes of diversity in the workplace. It allows for multi-cultural groups to embrace prevalent differences, allows for diversity in workgroups and a focus on evident similarities (Meeussen, Otten and Phalet, 2014). This has positively contributed to the inclusion of previously disadvantaged groups though not sufficient in the contemporary competitive operating environment.

Acceptance: This phase allows workgroups a comfortable workspace atmosphere to question differences concerning cultural differences, individual values as well as how this are incorporated into actions and for communication (Meeussen, Otten and Phalet, 2014). As such, this phase allows for multi-cultural differences causing dissonance to be minimised while at the same time leveraging for differences that foster a workgroup unique qualities.

Adaptation: This phase not only necessitates the internal development of every workgroup members such that mutually, teams discover and consequently implement processes which generate progressively effective communication and collaboration (Meeussen, Otten and Phalet, 2014).

As such, the Kegan five phase model for human development enables the use of the IDI towards enabling human resource departments towards planning effective interventions (Meeussen, Otten and Phalet, 2014). Such interventions are aimed at enabling workgroups at Microsoft advance from an identified developmental phase to the next. However, each transition has to incorporate a distinct modality. It is critical to clarify that such interventions require unique training programmes which specifically focus on working on transitioning from the least phase up until the highest phase (Meeussen, Otten and Phalet, 2014). This is critical towards enabling aspects of managing multi-cultural workgroups from being simply diverse to being all inclusive. As such, this is a demanding programme for the human resource department but the subsequent rewards not only substantially enhance overall organizational performance but also interpersonal as well as individual relations.


As this essay has provided, for individuals or members of workgroups to embrace continued development, there is the imperative need to have other individuals or workgroup members with a similar development. This is essential towards enabling one to reflect back on previous development phases. The end result is strong personal growth towards greater contributions towards organisational and by extension communal and social development. As such, Microsoft operates in a dynamic environment and   thus, to ensure its continued progress, there is the need for employees in its work groups to change accordingly. This is the primary challenge for human resource department at Microsoft today. As such, measurement of human development should be embraced as the initial step towards enhance management of multi-cultural workgroups.




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Cheng, C.Y., Chua, R.Y., Morris, M.W. and Lee, L., 2012. Finding the right mix: How the composition of self‐managing multicultural teams’ cultural value orientation influences performance over time. Journal of Organizational Behaviour33(3), pp.389-411.

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Skeldon, R., 2012. Migration transitions revisited: their continued relevance for the development of migration theory. Population, Space and Place18(2), pp.154-166.

Stuart, D.K., 2012. In the natural world, we are quite comfortable with understanding the life of any creature through a series of radically different developmental. Student Learning Abroad: What Our Students Are Learning, What They’re Not, and What We Can Do About It, p.61.

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