“Hee Soap, Hee Soap,” Timothy Jones sang out in a mocking fashion towards Hee Seop Choi, a fellow learning team member at a noted graduate school of business. Hoping to gain the benefits from a diversity of resources, knowledge, and ideas, MBA students at this school were assigned to learning teams. Each member was specifically chosen with an effort to mix up gender, nationalities, professional backgrounds, and interests. But those advantages may be outweighed by problems stemming from multicultural differences. This case offers a disguised, yet real, team experience that can be used in the classroom to unpack how this richly diverse group had trouble getting along and why their personality clashes intensified. The opportunity to discuss the challenges in light of culture, and the difference between that and problems stemming from personalities will help students reap the benefits intrinsic in multicultural teams.
Darden Business Publishing – University of Virginia