Periodicity.: April - June 2017
e-ISSN......: 2236-269X
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Collaboration and Crisis in Mega Projects: A Study in Cross Corporate Culture Conflict and its Resolution

Karen Smits, Robert A. Brownlow

Abstract


Projects typically involve multiple partners coming together to form a temporary project organization that manages project execution. Partners begin their relationship with soaring aspirations to collaborate but as they move through the project’s various phases and they experience friction, especially those related to cultural clashes, their noble aspirations succumb to creeping, if not full blown, crisis. This, in turn, creates lost relationality and compromised execution. Thus, the question: How can project partners manage the integration of differing corporate cultures and work processes to produce the most effective and efficient outcomes?  Using the mega project of the Panama Canal Expansion Program, the authors explore how a multicultural project organization moved from dysfunctional relationality to synergistic, self-reinforcing, collaboration. A “Collabyrinth” (Smits, 2013) model explores how participants learned to collaborate in a holding environment saturated with layers of complex cultural difference.  The Collabyrinth is composed of six comingling elements: (1) Conflicting Conditions, (2) Submarining, (3) Seeking Consent, (4) Storytelling, (5) Crafting Reciprocal Relations, (6) Synergizing. Certain aspects of crisis management are employed to explain intra-collabyrinth dynamics. Those aspects are: (1) Coming of the Forerunners, (2) Acuteness in the Now, (3) Resolution Seeking, and (4) Constructing Relationality. Specific examples of the collabyrinth journey are provided and recommendations are made to harness the positive power of cross-corporate culture collaboration.


Keywords


cross-cultural collaboration; crisis management; collabyrinth model; conflict resolution; Panama Canal Expansion Program

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References


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14807/ijmp.v8i2.556

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Copyright (c) 2017 Karen Smits, Robert A. Brownlow

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