Talking past each other : the impact of cross-cultural communication on construction project management in Samoa

Tone, Konelio (2005) Talking past each other : the impact of cross-cultural communication on construction project management in Samoa. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Developing effective strategies for international construction projects requires knowledge and expertise that is technically, socially, politically, economically and culturally based (Fellows et al., 2002). These strategies all require effective communication to work. Communication in the international environment is further complicated by the differences in languages and cultures involved. The importance of effective communication cannot be overemphasised because it is the ultimate means by which behaviour is modified, change is effected, knowledge is acquired and shared, and goals are achieved (Howes and Tah, 2003). According to Loosemore and Al Muslmani (1999), communication problems will emerge as one of the most significant contemporary challenges facing construction project managers in an increasingly international construction market. However, Dieckmann (1996) points out that communication is also regarded as one of the most neglected and overlooked parts of international operations, and lack of communication has been cited as one of the biggest reasons for the failure of change projects to meet their expectations (Pardu, 1996). Cross-cultural communication is defined as "the process whereby individuals from different cultural backgrounds attempt to share meanings and feelings through the exchange of verbal and non-verbal messages" (Harris and Moran, 2000). This sequential explanatory mixed methods study investigates the impact of cross-cultural communication on construction project management systems in Samoa. The first phase involved an opinion questionnaire survey with predominantly quantitative questions addressing the impact of human and cultural influences on project management and crosscultural communication evaluation processes, as experienced by expatriates and local managers, who have worked or are working in Samoa across a number of industries. Qualitative interviews were used in the second phase to probe significant themes and

findings in the first phase by explaining and exploring aspects of the cross-cultural

communication process focusing on construction project managers and supervisors working in Samoa. The quantitative results and qualitative findings generally confirmed the literature on crosscultural communication and related project management issues. The findings highlighted contrasting views between the different nationalities involved in projects in Samoa. Specific 'new themes' to a small island nation such as Samoa were identified. This research developed a generic conceptual framework for cross-cultural communication evaluation in an international project environment. An integrated cultural framework was also formulated to identify central differences in culture. In conclusion, it is clearly evident from this study that international project management requires an effective process regarding communication evaluation. The findings indicate there is no single 'best solution' to effectively manage the impact of cross-cultural communication on management systems. Rather, it requires the application of appropriate strategies by the proactive practitioners with the necessary cross-cultural skills that best suit the host environment in which the projects are being carried out.

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ID Code: 16089
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Skitmore, Ronald, Quanchi, Alan, & Soo, Asofou
Keywords: Culture, Cross-cultural, Communication, Human Factors, Project Management
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Past > Schools > School of Urban Development
Department: Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 03 Dec 2008 03:56
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 19:43

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