Here is a very useful article about cross-cultural collaboration in New Zealand:
The article is useful for two reasons: firstly, the collaboration it describes (between two very different cultures with an often problematic history) accentuates not only the difficulties associated with challenging collaborations but also the principles that need to be applied to overcome these difficulties; secondly, the principles identified can, I believe, be applied within many collaborative contexts.
For me, the principles that stand out as particularly important and widely applicable are as follows:
- Thoughtfully and considerately using creative tools and approaches to encourage dialogue and participation.
- Continuously seeking to build relationships with people from diverse backgrounds to gain access to and benefit from often uniquely valuable knowledge, experiences and perspectives.
- Developing the open-mindedness and humility required to learn from others.
- Giving up control: allowing yourself to be led by someone else, and stepping aside so someone can express their own way of knowing and use their own way of doing whilst working within their own culture and environment.
- Working with and adapting to the shifting temporal sands of collaboration: realising that who has to have humility, who has to give up control, and who has to stand aside to allow others to work with and from within their own cultures will alter with the changing needs and contexts of evolving collaboration.
(Read the article for examples of how the above principles can be applied.)
Although some collaborations will not be so obviously challenging as the one described in the article, and many collaborations will posses different or subtly hidden challenges that are no less problematical, I believe that all collaborations that bring together partners from diverse backgrounds to address shared issues and problems will benefit significantly from discovering ways to apply the above principles.