Karen Smits

Dr. Karen Smits is an international expert in Organizational Culture. Her cultural background includes being a Dutch female, raised in a Western society, and educated in Human Resource Management (Ba.). Her academic training as an Organizational Scientist (MSc.), as well as her travel experiences (she was a backpacker in South East Asia and South America) have influenced her understanding of the world, and taught her how to easy blend in new cultures.

In June 2013, Karen successfully defended her Ph.D. study on cross-cultural collaboration at the Faculty of Social Sciences, VU University Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Her dissertation, titled Cross Culture Work: Practices of Collaboration in the Panama Canal Expansion Program, receives much attention in the project management world and beyond. Portraying the results of her Ph.D. study, this book shows the people-side of project management and reveals how project employees deal with the cultural complexity in their everyday work life.

While writing the book, Karen presented at numerous international (academic) conferences, taught in academic courses, and worked as a consultant on projects in the Netherlands, Panama, and Colombia. In 2013, she received the prestigious “Highly Commended Paper Award” from the Emerald Literati Network for the academic article published in the International Journal of Managing Projects in Business. And in May 2014 she spoke at TEDxPuntaPaitilla in Panama.

Based in Sao Paulo, Karen currently works as a Business Culture Consultant. Her work revolves around relationships and processes within and between organizations. She supports organizational members in developing cross-cultural collaboration, organizational change and growth initiatives. Karen is often invited to speak about her research outcomes and facilitates workshops on culture and collaboration in the workplace.

In this blog series Karen shall picture her ideas and experiences on culture at work. Abstracted from her book, she will describe how cross-cultural collaboration came about in the Panama Canal Expansion Program (Logistics Newsletter), and portray how one can manage cultural complexity in the organization (Cultural Newsletter).

As with picture taking, one can capture an image from various viewpoints. The picture that Karen portrays in her blogs is taken from where she has been standing and based on her perspective and interpretations. It is very much likely that if someone else had been present at the same place and time, the picture would have come out differently. Hence, influenced by the personal meaning making processes of its taker, a picture is very much a personal account.

Please read more about Karen at www.crossculturework.com