Study Abroad Program

Course Syllabus

Multicultural Applications to Teamwork & Teambuilding

January, 2013

This course provides an excellent introduction to the skills required to work effectively within multicultural settings. It will be of interest to anyone who has the goal of eventually working in an international setting, or has a strong interest in learning about other cultures. The course will also discuss the application of multicultural research to the interpersonal skill areas as team building and conflict management.

Students begin their international journey with a two-day workshop at SMU’s Plano campus on January 5-6, 2013. During this weekend setting students will review multicultural research and complete cases, exercises, and simulations designed to help prepare them to work more effectively across cultures. Guest speakers will discuss the challenges of working across cultures, within both profit and nonprofit settings. Note: All students must agree to attend the two-day Plano workshop in addition to the one-week in residence in India.

The course concludes with a one-week residence in India from January 13-19, 2013, which will include visits to the cities of Delhi, Jaipur and Agra within India’s famed Golden Triangle. During their travels, students will have the opportunity to meet with Indian leaders within private and nonprofit sectors to learn more about alternative approaches to conflict management and team building. A special feature will be a presentation by Dr. Sudarshan Iyengar, a recognized expert on the philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi. Highlights of the tour will also include an all-day outing to the famous Taj Mahal in Agra, one of the most beautiful architectural constructions in the world, along many other historical sites, all of which are detailed (along with hotel descriptions) in the attached travel itinerary.

Course Learning Objectives

  • To obtain a better appreciation and understanding of different cultural perspectives.
  • To understand how political, religious, and national frameworks shape our cultural experiences.
  • To obtain a better understanding of one’s one cultural perspectives and biases.
  • To obtain an accurate self-assessment of one’s competencies in working effectively across cultures.
  • To develop the skills needed to understand how to successfully adapt the skills of team building and conflict management to different cultural settings.

Program Agenda

Two-Day Foundational Workshop at SMU in Plano

Note: Required textbooks for this course have not yet been identified. Apart from required texts, students will also be required to purchase a binder of related articles, and complete an online culture assessment instrument (cost approximately $12).

Day One: Morning Agenda

  • Introduction
    • An introduction to the instructors, course objectives, agenda, and learning format
  • Understanding Cultural Differences
    • Applying the cultural dimensions model developed by Geert Hofstede
  • Identifying Your Cultural World View
    • Using a simple online application tool to evaluate your cultural world view, and to compare your results with those of individuals from different national cultures
    • Use of the Culture Value Card Sort in self-assessing world views
  • Understanding Your Competencies in Cross-cultural Communication
    • Students will complete an online standardized self-assessment instrument prior to attending the first class session, and will be provided with a detailed summary report of competencies and development gaps.

Day One: Afternoon Agenda

  • Understanding the Impact of Culture in Individual and Group Communications
    • Introduction to 10 synthetic culture profiles
    • Exercise in interpreting representative cross-cultural dialogues

Day Two: Morning Agenda

  • Speakers from US corporations and nonprofits will discuss their experiences in what it takes to effectively manage across multi-cultural teams

Topics covered:

  • What does it take to succeed as an expat?
  • What are some of the most common mistakes that professionals make in attempting to work across cultures?
  • Suggestions for communicating within global, virtual teams
  • Guidelines for managing across cultures

Day Two: Afternoon Agenda

  • Understanding the Impact of Cultural Differences on Teamwork and Team Building
  • Review of multi-cultural case studies on building teams across cultures
  • Video Simulation: Analyzing the challenges faced by a multi-cultural work team
  • Strategies to enable multicultural teams to be more effective
  • Approaches to training multi-cultural teams
  • Lecture on team facilitation in a multi-cultural setting
  • Case studies on multi-cultural team facilitation


    Hilton Janakpuri ~ 4 Star
    Janakpuri District Centre Complex
    New Delhi, India 110058
    Tel: 91-11-4123-4123

    The Hilton New Delhi/Janakpuri hotel, is located West of New Delhi, in the heart of the local trading and public sector community and Indira Gandhi International Airport and benefits from easy access to the main commercial, business and entertainment districts of Connaught Place and Gurgaon. All of our contemporary, air-conditioned Guest Rooms are between 33m² to 44m² Enjoy a range of culinary choices with 8 on-site bars and restaurants, such as the Italian Trattoria, Pomodoro and the all-day dining venue Twenty-9. The hotel features a grand ballroom, ideal for large social events and meetings, which is soundproofed and can be divided into 3 separate sections. We also feature 4 small meeting rooms and a modern Boardroom. Keep fit while you travel in our Fitness Center by Precor® or spoil yourself with a treatment in our Urban Spa, which features a sauna, steam room and outdoor swimming pool.

    Trident Agra ~ 4 Star
    Fatehabad Road,
    Agra 282 001, India
    Tel. +91 562 223 5000

    The Trident, Agra, set amidst beautiful gardens, fountains, landscaped central courtyards, is built of red stone reminiscent of the Mughal era. The Hotel is literally, a stone's throw away from one of the new 7 Wonders of the World, the Taj Mahal.The Trident, Agra's 135 rooms and 2 suites are set amongst Mughal style gardens, courtyards and architecture to make guests feel one with the history.

    Trident Hotel ~ 5 Star
    Amber Fort Road,
    Opposite Jal Mahal,
    Jaipur 302 002, India
    Tel: +91 141 267 0101

    Breathtaking views of the serene Mansagar Lake and the striking Aravalli range welcome guests at the 134 room Trident Hotel, Jaipur. Situated en route to Jaipur’s famous Amber Fort, the Trident, Jaipur offers gracefully furnished rooms that are well-equipped. There are exclusive non-smoking rooms and rooms designed for the disabled too. The hotel’s multi–cuisine restaurant serves an elaborate a ’la carte menu and extensive buffets for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The outdoor heated swimming pool offers a perfect ambience for guests to relax and unwind. A bonus is a view of the picturesque Aravali hills. The Fitness Centre caters to the needs of the fitness enthusiast with a complete range of cardiovascular and strength equipments, free weights with stretching and relaxation areas and is open 24 hours.


    93-100 = A Exceptional A superior / outstanding performance.  Has mastered the concepts and adds unique contributes to class discussions. 
    90-92 = A- Excellent A very good / admirable performance.  Displays understanding in all areas of the class, and contributes successfully to class discussions. 
    87-89 = B+ Outstanding Above average performance.  A few insignificant flaws may appear, but overall has great application of the field. 
    83-86 = B  Good A generally satisfactory, intellectually adequate performance.  Few significant flaws in performance. 
    80-82 = B- Adequate A barely satisfactory performance.  Contributes little to class discussions and lacks a clear understanding of concepts. 
    77-79 = C+  Not sufficient An unacceptable performance.  Unable to engage in class discussions and has little comprehension of theories.


    The course evaluation process is as follows:
    50% of the final grade will be based on class participation. This means active participation at all specified course activities, including the two-day session at SMU in Plano.
    50% of the final grade will be based on the generation of one of the following options (student’s choice):

    A . 7 – 10 page case study demonstrating an understanding of the application of multi-cultural factors to teamwork or team building. This case study can involve an analysis of those factors that were found to contribute to the success or failure of a multi-cultural team, within a nonprofit or private sector organization.

    B. 7 – 10 page research paper demonstrating an understanding of the application of multi-cultural factors to teamwork or team building. This paper would include at least seven references from recognized academic (not popular or trade) journals, dealing with some aspect of the topic under study. Examples would be “The competencies required for facilitator success in multi-cultural environments”, or “Gender issues encountered in managing multi-cultural work teams”.

    C. Students who are within SMU’s Masters of Counseling Program will be asked to complete an alternative assignment. This will be a 7 – 10 page research paper demonstrating an understanding of the application of multi-cultural factors to counseling within diverse populations.

    Important Note on Paper Deadlines:

    Papers are to be submitted electronically to Kay Barclay no later than 4pm, CT, Friday, February 22, 2013. Papers submitted after this deadline will result in a letter downgrade, or a grade of Incomplete. To support impartiality in grading, the instructor adheres to a ‘blind’ grading process, in which all papers submitted anonymously. Accordingly, please do not put your name on the paper or the electronic file. Instead, use your student ID numbers. Do NOT submit papers directly to Dr. Barner.

    Academic Policies of Special Importance to Students

    Academic Integrity and Ethical Conduct as an SMU Student:

    Students are reminded of the SMU Honor Code as referenced in the Student Handbook. Intellectual integrity and academic honesty are both the foundation and the goals for this program. Please reference and review the university policies on the responsibilities, policies, and penalties regarding academic honesty.

    Religious Observance:

    Religiously observant students wishing to be absent on holidays that require missing class should notify their professor in writing at the beginning of the term, and should discuss with them, in advance, acceptable ways of making up any work missed because of the absence.

    Disability Accommodations: Students needing academic accommodations for a disability must first contact the Coordinator, Services for Students with Disabilities (214-768-4557) to verify the disability and establish eligibility for accommodations. They should then schedule an appointment with the professor to make appropriate arrangements.

    Class Decorum:

    To foster a good learning environment for yourself and your fellow students we ask that you adhere to the following guidelines during class:

    • Please turn off (or set on vibrate) all cell phones or pagers.
    • Do not read newspapers, books for other classes, or other outside reading material during class.
    • Walking into class late is disruptive as is leaving early. If you have to leave early, make arrangements before class begins, and then, when you leave, do so quietly.
    • Professional respect and courtesy for your fellow students is imperative at all times.

    The Course Instructor: Robert Barner, PhD

    Dr. Robert Barner is a full-time Lecturer within SMU’s Graduate Program in Dispute Resolution and Counseling, where he teaches graduate classes in executive coaching, team building, group facilitation, and organizational consulting. He also directs the program’s internship program, and their study abroad program on International Organizational Collaboration in Dublin, Ireland.

    Prior to joining SMU, Dr Barner held executive positions for several different international companies, where his responsibilities included team building, career planning, executive development, and the development of high-potential leaders. Dr. Barner’s work experience also includes management consulting to such companies as GTE, AT&T, Harris, Disney, Honeywell, and United Technologies.

    Over the past twenty years Dr. Barner has presented to several international symposia and conferences, including the American Society for Training and Development, The Society for Human Resource Management, The World Future Society, and the OD Network. He has written over 50 articles on the subjects of team building, career planning, executive coaching, executive development for such publications as The Wall Street Journal’s National Business Employment Weekly, The OD Practitioner, Career Development International, Team Performance Management, HR Magazine, ad Training & Development.

    Dr. Barner is the author of six books on the subjects of career development, leadership development and team building, with four foreign language translations. In addition, he has also been a contributor to several texts, including Annual Editions: Management 1997/98, 1998/99; McGraw-Hill), The Quality Yearbook 2001 Edition McGraw-Hill), Inside the Minds: Developing a Corporate Culture (2006, Aspatore Books), and The Handbook of Adult Development and Learning (2006; Oxford University Press). His forthcoming book, Building Better Teams, will be published by Wiley Publishing in The July, 2012.

    Dr Barner holds a Masters and Doctorate in Organization Development, a Masters in Counseling Psychology, and Bachelors degrees in Education and Psychology.