Human Factors

  • Working with


    Cultural Diversity -


    and making it work!



      Cultural Differences   Our competency   Concepts and methods
     Measurement instruments   Services   Presentations
      Network   Client engagements   Staff  













    Mergers and Acquisitions - Culturally Diverse Work Groups - Expatriates -
    Change Leadership - International Management - Cross-Cultural Communication









    Cultural Differences Make the Difference


    • Japanese and American management is 95 percent the same and differs in all important respects.
      T. Fujisawa, Cofounder of Honda Motor Corporation


    Diversity at work is on the rise. More and more we meet teams comprising of people with different professional backgrounds and different nationalities. Mergers, alliances and networks bring together companies and institutions with different organizational cultures and ways of working. In the global economy even the smallest firms are in touch with some international company. All of these instances represent a cross-cultural encounter. The question is: How we can create a good work climate and achieve the best results in a multicultural work environment?

    The success rate in blending cultures is varying…

    Failures in the following areas are common and extremely expensive both to the individuals and the companies involved:


    • Mergers and acquisitions. McKinsey & Co. looked at 115 deals in the early 1990s and found that 60 percent of the transactions failed to earn returns greater than the annual cost of the capital required to do the acquisitions. Just 23 percent of the transactions were rated successful by this measure. Another study found that 44 percent of the companies that were acquired were ater sold off -- and, in about half the cases, unhappily, as reported in The Washington Post 1998.

      Various studies (KPMG, Deloitte Consulting, articles in Harvard Business Review, etc) show cultural factors to be a main determinant in the success or failure of mergers and acquisitions.



    • Culturally Diverse Work Groups. Compared with culturally diverse work groups, similarity or homogeneity among group members probably decreases absenteeism and turnover. With regard to work performance, the results are mixed, according to Thomas in the Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology March 1999.


    • Expatriate executives. Recent studies show the same pattern as a decade or more ago: A great number of managers who are sent abroad return home earlier than planned. Moreover, of those who stick it out, "nearly one-third did not perform up to the expectations of their superiors", according to Black and Gregersen in Harvard Business Review March-April 1999.

      Again, difficulties dealing with cultural differences are found to be a major reason for this failure rate.



    Leadership and Organizational Change
    Why is change so often resisted? One reason is that major change efforts also represent a change in the organization's culture. Why do new executives often encounter trouble? DBM, a leading outplacement firm, finds in its research that more than 70 percent of transitioning executives in DBM programs had to leave – not due to lack of performance, but because they didn't fit an organization's culture".




    But the good news is…
    The good news is that these costly failures can be avoided when attention is paid to the cultural factors involved and emphasis is laid on selection and development processes. Not only can failures be avoided, but cultural differences can be a source of extraordinary performance results. The paradox is that diversity may give challenges, but also that diversity is a cornerstone for creativity. The integration of different perspectives can result in a unique competitive advantage. Cultural differences make the difference-

    Moreover, there are proven, practical concepts, methods and measurement instruments for making cultural diversity work. And cultural diversity makes for more excitement and adventure!


    Focus on similarities or differences?
    Both! It is important not to one-sidedly focus on differences. Differences can explain the difficulties we experience when working together, but it is the similarities that bind us together and are the platform we can build on.


    • In some respects, a person is like all others.
      In other respects, a person is like some others.
      And in certain respects, a person is like no other.

      Similarities make for cohesiveness,
      Differences for the dynamics.



    Human Factors Unique Competency
    Human Factors has a unique competency for assisting clients deal with diversity and release their potential for extraordinary results. This competency is itself a product of a creative combination of diverse elements:



    • Our values, which emphasize
      - benefits to society, in a global perspective, with respect for cultural identity and individual life choices
      - open exchange of research- and experience-based knowledge
      - close and continuing dialog with our clients when developing and applying interventions, to ensure that our common efforts best meet their needs.
    • Proven, practical methods and measurement instruments. In our choice of methods and measurement instruments we have been particularly concerned that they meet the highest professional standards and avoid cultural bias.
    • A set of business psychology services which includes assessment, training and development, and which integrates individual, team and organizational levels.


    • The individual members of our core team and our associates, which represent a broad range of work experience and client engagements in both the private (for profit and nonprofit) and public sector, as well as different nationalities and a variety of theoretical perspectives and practical approaches.


    • Close ties established over the years to academic institutions and to leading researchers in the field, which serve as our "Research and Development Department".


    • Our ties to the community of Human Factors offices internationally, as well as to other professional networks and organizations working in related areas.


    World Class
    This unique competency fuels Human Factors' ambition of delivering "world class" services and products. By this we mean both the highest quality based on international standards, and that our services can be used in a global setting. Indeed, this is a strategy we share with many of our clients, which makes for a good match!

    Human Factors was established in Norway in 1993 as a branch of the international consulting company Human Factors, which has offices in London, Stratford-upon-Avon, Moscow, as well as Oslo.





    Proven, practical concepts, methods, and measurement instruments


    • Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation.
      Martin Luther King, Jr. 1964, Oslo, Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech

    The concepts, methods, and measurement instruments we choose must meet two important criteria:

    - be of demonstrated practical use to our clients

    - conform to the highest professional standards, including that of avoiding cultural bias.





    Measurement instruments

    - To get action, get measurements


    Human Factors' background in psychology enables us to critically evaluate the psychometric properties of measurement instruments (or "tests"). We select only those that meet established standards. This gives our clients a guarantee of quality that is not a matter of course in the commercial test market.


    Here is an overview of tests most relevant for working with cultural diversity. A more detailed description of each is available separately.



    • Diversity Icebreaker™. A concept to promote the best out of diversity through better cooperation. A questionnaire used worldwide in team development, kick-off seminars, project training, management development programs, change management processes, communication and diversity training.

      It creates a safe psychological climate to share ideas of differences between people, cultures and organizational units. The test is easy to use and a more positive alternative to Myers Briggs Type Indicator - MBTI, TMP and Belbin Team Roles. ..Read more
    • CPQ - Cultural Perspectives Questionnaire. CPQ is a questionnaire that reliably maps individual cultural differences and similarities. It is used to give individuals and teams feedback on their deep-level cultural dimensions. It is available in 27 languages.
    • TCI - Team Climate Inventory. TCI measures the work climate in a team - how the team functions as whole. How well does the team work together? Does it work in a way that encourages new and exciting performance results? TCI measures four factors that have been found to be important for effective, innovative teams. It is a useful tool for highlighting what a cultural diverse team should focus on in its development, and for tracking its progress.

    • Team Performance Inventory & Leadership feedback. The feedback to the teams consists of means and standard deviations on factors and questions and results compared with norms of 125 teams. Added to that each person get their own profile compared with the team, which enhance interpersonal discussios of team perceptions. 
      Feedback from users are overwhelming, the feedback formats give all information wanted and gives the team leader and members excellent opportunities to discuss different perceptions of teamwork
    • EQ-i – The Baron Emotional Quotient Inventory. EQ-i is the first scientifically documented test for measuring emotional intelligence, Success in multicultural work environments requires "emotional intelligence", an array of competencies and skills, including self-awareness, empathy, flexibility. Fortunately, emotional intelligence is not static, but can be developed and improved with training. EQ-i is a useful tool for highlighting which strengths an individual or group can build on, and which areas could be improved.
    • OCQ - Organisational Culture Questionnaire. OCQ measures organizational culture on 12 dimensions. It can be used to discover differences in organizational culture within a company, for example at its different geographical locations, as well as differences between companies, for instance in connection with a merger. It can also be used to identify gaps between actual and desired culture, and changes in the organizational culture over time. OCQ makes it easy to see which areas of the organizational culture require particular attention.




    Human Factors services include assessment, training and development. We work at the individual, team and organizational level within a business psychology framework. In close dialog with our clients we seek to develop and apply a tailor-made approach to best meet their needs. This approach can consist of one or more elements:


    • lectures, seminars, courses
    • assessments, analyses, recommendations
    • coaching, mentoring, consultation
    • development programs for leaders and teams
    • "train-the-trainer", including certification for our measurement instruments.


    An example of the specific approaches that we offer are:


    > Training for Work in International Teams 





    Presentations of our work with diversity and global teams at conferences worldwide:



    • Philadelphia, USA, Academy of Management annual conference 3-8 august 2007: “Doing OD in an alien world”. “Diversity Icebreaker: Social Construction of Team Roles as a Tool for Managing Diversity.” “Corporate Social Responsibility and Values Based Management in a Multinational Company.” By Bjørn Z. Ekelund
    • Tokyo, Japan. Global Forum, IGB consortium. 21. Februar 2007. Diversity Management in Multinatoinal Companies. By Bjørn Z. Ekelund
    • Trondheim, Norway. Eva Langvik & Bjørn Z. Ekelund: Managing diversity: How to heterogenize teams in order to create self- and team knowledge
    • London, UK, SIETAR (Society for Intercultural Trainind And Research) conference 9. september 2006. Team Roles as Diversity Icebreaker. By Bjørn Z. Ekelund
    • Atlanta, USA. Academy of Management Annual conference, 13. august 2006. “Diversity Icebreaker applied in International Management teaching”. By Bjørn Z. Ekelund
    • Bremen: International Workshop “Corporate Social Responsibility” University of Bremen, Institute Technology and Education (ITB), 18th May 2006.Differences in Corporate Social Responsibility measurements across cultures. By Bjørn Z. Ekelund
    • Lyon. ADERSE conference on CSR, Univ of Lyon, Academy of Management, presentation 18. Oct 2005. Social construction of teams following structured feedback in Scandinavia. By Bjørn Z. Ekelund
    • Hawaii, Academy of Management Annual Conference 9 August 2005: Development of a Global Employee Survey.
      Ekelund, B.Z., Berg, K.Ø. & Ø. Mathisen:
    • Århus, Denmark, International Organizations Network Annual conference: Dark Side of Scandinavian Management, 25. Febr 2005. By Bjørn Z. Ekelund
    • Copenhague, Denmark, EGOS-conference. 5 July 2003: B.Z:Ekelund, A. Risling & H. Kristensen: Development of cultural specific competence in management and organisational consultation in Scandinavia. By Bjørn Z. Ekelund
    • Stockholm. Sweden; Psykologdagarna 1. April 2003, Scandinavian Work- and Management Culture. Implications for training of consultants. By Bjørn Z. Ekelund
    • Lyon, University of Lyon, France, 22. October 2002 "University citizenship: Progress, modernization, exemplarity. By Bjørn Z. Ekelund
    • SIETAR Congress - Vienna, April 2002 by Joy Buikema Fjærtoft
    • Sandefjord, Norway, 15 september 2001 - Heritage & Identity convention,: Joseph DiStefano & Bjørn Z Ekelund: The M.B.I. Model of Managing Differences Effectively By Bjørn Z. Ekelund
    • Tilburg, Netherlands, April 2001 - IRIC conference: Martha Maznevski & Bjørn Z Ekelund. Cultural dimensions in action: Democratic elections in post-war Bosnia.
    • Chicago, 1999 - Academy of Management: Whitener, E, Maznevski, M, Sæbø, S.R. & Ekelund, B.Z.
    • Paris, 1997 - ENOP conference: Interaction between academy and practice. By Bjørn Z. Ekelund


    • We are also proud to announce that Bjørn Z. Ekelund is co-author of a chapter on Effective Team Processes for Global Teams in Handbook of Global Management: A Guide to Managing Complexity, edited by experts in the field Henry W. Lane, Martha L. Maznevski, Mark Mendenhall and Jeanne McNett just released by Blackwell Publishing 2004. See




    Over the years Human Factors in Norway has established close ties to academic institutions and to leading researchers in the field, which serve as our "Research and Development Department". We are part of an international community of Human Factors offices, and have ties to many other professional networks and organizations working in related areas, as well as to other consulting and assessment firms. We have a strong belief in the spirit of collaboration and in the network organization for dealing with complicated issues in today’s world, and are eager to extend our contacts and ties on a basis of mutual benefit and exchange.


    • Academic institutions and networks
      - IMD Business School, Lausanne, Switzerland
      - Center of Creative Leadership, USA
      - Simon Fraser University, Canada.
      - Aston Business School, Univ. of Aston, UK
      - ION - network of academicans in the field of international management
      - Norwegian School of Management, BI
      - Høgskolen i Oslo (Oslo College, Norway) 
    • Human Factors International
      - Human Factors, United Kingdom
      - Human Factors, Russia
    • Organizations and Netvworks
      - Foundations for Scandinavian Organizational Psychology
      - Norwegian Society of Organizational Psychologists
      - Norwegian Psychological Association
      - Other networks..




    Human Factors International (UK)
    Human Factors International was established in 1983. Our distinctive competence is a deep and extensive knowledge of psychology coupled with experienced understanding of the business environment.
    Contact info


    Human Factors Russia
    Human Factors - Russia started operations in Moscow in 1993, and has since then worked with multinational, foreign and Russian companies including IBM East Europe/Asia, Colgate-Palmolive, Global TeleSystems Group, MosOtis, Philips Electronics, Reebok, DHL, Black & Decker, Kodak, Andersen Consulting, Baskin Robbins, Gillette, Econika, Wimm-Bill-Dann Ingosstrakh.


    Human Factors - Russia understands the problems which foreign companies working in the Russian market may have and offers suitable solutions to make their business more successful and secure.
    Contact info






    Client engagements

    Human Factors, Norway, has experience working with cultural diversity for clients such as:


    • OSCE, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Cross-cultural training for election officials in Sarajevo and start-up of management program for 120 persons in three different places in Bosnia.
    • Aker Kvaerner. Kick-off and team building for new international team in charge of global IT infrastructure.
    • Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF). Training in interpersonal communication for new recruits from Europe as part of their "Preparations Primary Departure course"
    • ISS. Cross-Cultural Communication training.
    • Amersham Health. Cross-Cultural Communication training.
    • Norsk Hydro. Building Multicultural Teams. Integrating Cross-Functional Work Entities.
    • FMC Energy Systems Cross-cultural communication training as preparation for work in Nigeria, in collaboration with Eksportrådet (Norwegian Trade Council).
    • National Stark, Cross-cultural Training for 60 managers in Ablestik. California, USA.
    • EADS Münich. Cross-cultural Training. Hot topics for managers. Germany.
    • Norwegian Psychological Association in collaboration with NORAD (The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation). Training of organizational consultants in team development, Zimbabwe.
    • Siemens. Future Search Conferences.
    • Nutreco. Team development, international research teams.
    • SAP Nordic. Team development.
    • Management Training Centre, Berlin. Training programs in consulting.
    • Norwegian School of Management BI on behalf of the Norwegian Psychological Association in collaboration with the Swedish Psychological Association, as well as business schools in Stockholm, Copenhagen, and Lund. Design of a pan-Scandinavian management program "Leadership in Complex Organizations".
    • Høgskolen i Harstad (Harstad College). Teaching "Cross-Cultural Management".
    • Various other experience:
      - "International Leadership Program: My Personal Leadership Style". First established in 1989. More than 500 managers in Europe have been trained.
      - Cultural integration lectures, seminars and programs in connection with mergers in different industries (banking, energy, public sector).
      - Preparatory Expatriate Lectures
      - Team Development Programs
      - Certification Programs for Internal Consultants
      - Change Leadership Programs
      - Project Management Seminars
      - Practical experience in managing a culturally diverse workforce




    Bjørn Z. Ekelund
    Managing Director in Human Factors. Broad experience from leadership development processes and from work with organizational analysis, conflict resolution and team development processes. Frequently in demand as a speaker on the newest developments in the field. Psychologist, University of Oslo. MBA. CV


Human Factors AS • P.O. Box 86 • NO-0216 Oslo • Norway • Tel: + 47 22 42 30 30 • • E-mail: