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More efficiency in Finnish-Russian co-operation
Cultural knowledge and interaction skills are crucial in project work

Finnish companies can step up their bilateral project work with Russia by improving in advance their knowledge of the Russian culture of doing business. The entrepreneurial financial risk is also reduced when at least one of the Finnish representatives of the joint project team is well up on Russian culture, the project environment and the Russian backgrounds or key actors and the Russian language. It is an extra advantage to be aware that at least in St. Petersburg, Moscow and elsewhere in Russia there are distinct ways of doing project work.

Marko Mäkilouko
Marko Mäkiluoko, Principal Lecturer at Tampere Polytechnic University of Applied Sciences is familiar with the work of international project groups.  Recently he has made a special study of leadership styles in Finnish-Russian project teams.
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Photo: Tampere Polytechnic University of Applied Sciences

In research funded by the Tampere Polytechnic University of Applied Sciences and Fazer Bakeries on Russian project leadership, polytechnic students with a knowledge of Russian used interviews to learn more about the leadership styles of project groups in the Finnish-Russian processing and IT industries. The findings suggest that in the Finnish teams project leadership was largely a mere formality, since in practice the teamwork was led by a Russian; this is exceptional in other bilateral project teams. In addition to the advantage of operating in their own language, the Russians had social competence to lead teamwork requiring multicultural interactivity.

In bilateral, international co-operation Finnish companies have a chance to acquire special expertise through their neighbouring country for application in very varied national operating and behavioural cultures. For example, the formerly very authoritarian way for Russians to lead projects has in recent years shifted in a more European issue and task oriented direction, but social interaction skills continue to be a core element in practical project management. Moreover, if the Finns have a good command of Russian it is easier for them to investigate the Russian legislation.

The geographical proximity of two countries with utterly different cultures makes the always indispensable face-to-face project team work easier. In Finnish-Russian teamwork the emphasis is on personal interaction skills and the power and ability of project management to decide and delegate the accomplishment of subsidiary tasks. Good project management training from the very beginning also reduces the financial risk.

The Fazer Bakeries have long experience of bilateral project work in Russia, the Baltic countries and the Nordic countries. Using among other ways in-depth interviews conducted in Russian, the research revealed the mechanisms of project team leadership. Research on Finnish-Russian project leadership is rare, and complements research on other bilateral European project leadership. The research findings will be of especial benefit to Finnish companies, since it is impossible to define a universally effective method for project leadership.

Further information:

Tampere Polytechnic University of Applied Sciences
Principal Lecturer Marko Mäkiluoko
Tel. +358 50 463 0731
Fazer Bakeries
Project Manager Raine Kallio
Tel. +359 40 586 7772

Feel free to use all news. Photographs copyright Kalle Heiska.
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