This paper investigates the roles of disagreement and trust in multicultural teamwork on an English-medium master’s programme at an Austrian business university. The teamwork project – assigned by the content teacher – took place mostly outside the classroom and simulated business practice both in terms of the tasks and the multicultural context. Each team comprised two Austrian students and two international students, resulting in an English as a lingua franca (ELF) setting. The teams were observed and audio-/video-recorded, with the analysis focusing on an early stage of the project where they laid the groundwork for the team mental models in terms of establishing the team goals, relationships and communicative practices. Additionally, retrospective interviews were conducted at the end of the project with each of the team members and the lecturer to gain emic insights into the project. The findings suggest a symbiotic relationship between disagreement and trust, in which high levels of trust and the construction of a psychologically safe space allow the team members to disagree with and challenge each other without damaging their relationships, leading to better decisions. In turn, these decisions can contribute to a sense of shared success that strengthens the team’s joint identity.
Österreichische Systematik der Wissenschaftszweige (ÖFOS)
- 501008 Gruppendynamik
- 602004 Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft
- 602008 Anglistik