Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict (Print ISSN: 1544-0508; Online ISSN: 1939-4691 )

Abstract

Culture, Conflict and Team Management in I4H: Experiential Learning in Business Practice to Support Community Development Entrepreneurship

Author(s): James R. Calvin, Joel Igu

Introduction: The Carey Business School's Innovation for Humanity (I4H) project leverages experiential learning in its collaboration with international partners that work towards achieving the United Nation's 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).The theory behind the development and evolution of I4H is rooted in literature that describes culture, experiential learning and the business of social impact the I4H project equips teams with cultural and conflict management training, business communication skills and analytical tools to solve organizational problems in multicultural settings. Purpose: This study has two main aims. It seeks to describe I4H, a Business School experiential learning program, exploring the model that I4H uses to address culture and conflict in teaming in its international projects. This study also identifies student challenges and solutions to problem solving in the context of culture, conflict and teaming in I4H and proposes that these lessons learned are transferable in the context of similar experiential learning projects. Methods: Student and programmatic experiences from the last two years of I4H were analysed qualitatively using grounded theory. Student experiences as reported from their project feedback were coded using grounded theory into themes that explored their challenges and learning points from completed projects. Themes on solutions to these challenges were also explored. Results: In the last two years, I4H has worked with 32 sponsors from five countries. Students reported five groups of challenges: Cultural challenges, communication based challenges, conflict based challenges, team related challenges, and unforeseeable challenges. These challenges were mitigated using concepts from I4H and its supporting course, Solving Organizational Problems. Limitations: The I4H program is limited to the Carey Business School, and its generalizability to other experiential learning programs may be confounded by the other learning experiences that students encounter at the Carey Business School. Conclusions: Carey Business School's I4H experiential learning model is transferrable and creates value through skill transfer, social impact and reciprocal community development. The I4H program successfully deals with multicultural issues in international collaboration, conflict resolution and teaming. It has direct impact through bilateral knowledge and skill transfer, and indirect impact through initiatives that it inspires, and fosters.