Collaborating Across Cultures: Cultural Metacognition and Affect-Based Trust in Creative Collaboration
Executive Summary — Creative solutions often are born when two unrelated ideas come together for the first time. That's more likely to happen when the collaborators come from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds, thus diminishing the likelihood of redundant ideas. In this paper, via a series of studies, Roy Y.J. Chua, Michael W. Morris, and Shira Mor examine the factors that make intercultural creative collaboration happen. Key concepts include:
- An individual's cultural metacognition (i.e. reflective thinking about intercultural interactions) is directly linked to success in intercultural creative collaborations.
- Affect-based trust, but not cognition-based trust, is positively associated with cultural metacognition.
- In order to further intercultural creative collaboration, managers need to do more than simply passively learn about other cultures. Rather, they need to develop their cultural metacognition in anticipation of possible intercultural encounters.
We propose that managers' awareness of their own and others' cultural assumptions (cultural metacognition) enables them to develop affect-based trust with associates from different cultures, promoting creative collaboration. Study 1, a multi-rater assessment of managerial performance, found that managers higher in metacognitive cultural intelligence (CQ) were rated as more effective in intercultural creative collaboration by managers from other cultures. Study 2, a social network survey, found that managers lower in metacognitive CQ reported a deficit of new idea sharing in their intercultural but not intracultural ties. In Study 3, a laboratory experiment involving a collaborative task, higher metacognitive CQ engendered greater idea sharing and creative performance only when participants shared personal experiences prior to the task. The effects of metacognitive CQ in enhancing collaboration were mediated by affect-based trust. We discuss the theoretical and practical implications for understanding and promoting creativity and problem solving in multicultural global contexts.