Intercultural challenges of working in an international and interdisciplinary team: Findings from a student practice project

Activity: Talk or presentationScience to science


The development of international virtual collaborative teaching and learning formats is currently determining the discussion about the future of higher education teaching. Mobility in staying abroad is not feasible for many students due to family, professional, health, and financial conditions. However, "internationalization at home" makes it possible to gain experience in international and interdisciplinary teams.
The didactic challenges include the diversity of students in terms of age, gender, religion, social origin and/or disability, and different forms of higher education and grading systems. Linking multicultural teamwork, diversity sensitivity, and digitalization in the higher education context is a new field of research.
Our international, interdisciplinary teaching and research project takes place in cooperation between three universities from Germany, Finland, and Austria. Students from different disciplines are working on a joint project. In this context, the question of how team effectiveness can be achieved in heterogeneous teams is being explored.
We survey the challenges and success criteria for teamwork qualitatively as well as quantitatively. The results of the study will be integrated into diversity and team research and linked to the intersectionality approach. This way, cultural approaches are expanded to include diversity-related issues.
The results show great challenges to the success of virtual international and interdisciplinary teams:
- in addition to language, technical equipment, and different grading systems, habitual imprints by the fields of study pose the greatest challenges.
- Culturally conditioned stereotypes are often reinforced.
- Group dynamic processes based on cultural differences, language and communication problems lead to relationships of dominance and subordination, role attributions as well as demarcations and exclusions.
Period18 May 202221 May 2022
Event titleSIETAR Europa Congress 2022
Event typeUnknown
Degree of RecognitionInternational

Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)

  • 504
  • 506009 Organisation theory
  • 502026 Human resource management
  • 504014 Gender studies
  • 501008 Group dynamics