Since people are not the same, they see the world differently. They hold different ideas and opinions about acceptable behaviors, and things that matter. These beliefs constitute their worldviews. The term worldview is generally used to describe the perspective from which an individual or a given group of people perceive their own world and respond to it (Anderson, 2014). People who come from the same cultural background often share a common worldview. In order to ensure their continuity, worldviews are passed from one generation to the next. Worldviews usually evolve due to intercultural communication. However, the process of intercultural communication sometimes leads to cultural conflicts as a result of differences in worldviews. This paper discusses the sources of possible conflicts between American and Papua New Guinea worldviews. It also recommends actionable solutions that can be used to address the conflicts and promote collaboration between people of the two cultures.

Sources of Potential Conflict

The Americans hold worldviews that are different from those of the people of Papua New Guinea. To begin with, the two cultural groups have different attitudes towards power distance. The Papuans believe in uneven distribution of power (Kavanamur & Esonu, 2011). Those who hold power and the non-power holders have unequal rights. While the superiors are inaccessible and directive, the subordinates are expected to be obedient. Communication between the two power groups is indirect and formal. In contrast, the Americans believe in equal rights for all (Hofstede Insights, 2021). Superiors are accessible, and they rely on expertise of the subordinates. Communication between those in power and the non-power holders is direct, informal, and participative. The difference in Americans and Papuans’ worldviews about power distance is likely to cause a conflict associated with an intercultural communication breakdown. For instance, the foreign managers and local workers of Agua Sin Fronteras (ASF) Company may find it difficult to exchange useful information due to different beliefs on how the employer is supposed to communicate and relate with the employee. This can affect implementation of the planned water and sanitation projects.

The Papua New Guineans and the Americans hold different beliefs about the level of interdependence among members of the society. The former believe in collectivism, while the rather believe in individualism. Collectivism represents a society in which people are integrated into cohesive in-groups that support and protect them (Ugyel & Marai, 2017). In such a society, individual members are expected to show loyalty to their in-groups by conforming to the set ideals. On the other hand, individualism stands for a society in which ties between its members are loose (Ugyel & Marai, 2017; Hofstede Insights, 2021). Individual members are encouraged to look after themselves and their immediate families. This particular difference in worldview is expected to raise a conflict pertaining to reliance on authority for support. Since the people of Papua New Guinea are used to the idea of seeking support from other members of the society, those who will work for ASF may find themselves relying too much on the managers of the company. The American managers may not entertain this habit since they embrace individualism.

Another important difference in the worldviews of the Papuans and the Americans is in regard to uncertainty avoidance. This involves how the society deals with the unknown situations that cause anxiety. Just like in other indigenous societies, there is high uncertainty avoidance in Papua New Guinea. People in this society tend to be reluctant in making higher risks (Kavanamur & Esonu, 2011). They feel threatened by ambiguous and unpredictable situations (Ugyel & Marai, 2017). It is for this reason that they find it difficult to try new and different things. For example, these people do not value face to face criticism. They believe in the use of friends and colleagues (Culture Crossing Guide, 2017). On their part, the people of the American society have low uncertainty avoidance. They accept new ideas, and always try new things (Hofstede Insights, 2021). For instance, they embrace freedom of expression. This worldview difference in uncertainty avoidance can as well be a source of conflict. Since the Papuans do not support direct criticism, it may be difficult for them to collaborate with the Americans who are going to implement sanitation and water projects. Thus, it may be difficult to maintain workplace harmony.

Actionable Solutions

In order for the proposed water and sanitation projects to be effectively implemented in Papua New Guinea, it is necessary for ASF to address the conflicts related to the two different worldviews. To begin with, the conflict of intercultural communication breakdown as a result of power distance differences can be addressed through the group norming strategy. Norming is one of the strategies of team building that helps to resolve difference among group members by promoting appreciation of one another’s strengths (Anderson, 2020). The strategy makes team members comfortable, and it encourages them to provide constructive feedback.

The conflict pertaining to overreliance on authority due to differences in individualism and collectivism worldviews can be resolved through creation of a shared vision. It is important to think of how both collectivism and individualism can contribute to the common good of the opposing cultures (UNESCO, 2009; Kelly, 2012). Thus, both Americans and Papua New Guineans need to embrace the two cultural dimensions for their common good. Collectivism demonstrates an effort towards the achievement of a shared interest. The shared interest in this case is the implementation of sanitation and water projects. Both the locals and foreigners working in the projects can represent a collectivist approach that contributes to the attainment of their common interests. On the other hand, the contribution of an individual worker can demonstrate an individualist approach to the common goal or interest of all.

Lastly, the conflict on lack of workplace harmony and collaboration as a result of differences in uncertainty avoidance worldviews may be addressed through consensus building skills. Reaching a consensus helps to promote tolerance and collaboration (DiDomenico, 2001; Trujillo, 2008). The foreigners and the locals who will be involved in the ASF projects need to agree on how they can effectively work together in order to ensure that the projected projects are successfully implemented. For instance, there is need to reach consensus on how conflicts between group members can be resolved without any form of victimization. It is also important to set up simple and flexible rules that every member is comfortable with.


Anderson, C. (2020). 5 Stages & Strategies towards High Remote Team Performance. Retrieved from

Anderson, J. N. (2014). What’s your worldview? An interactive approach to life’s big questions. Wheaton: Crossway.

Culture Crossing Guide. (2017). Papua New Guinea: Communication Style. Retrieved from

DiDomenico, A. G. (2001). Dealing With Worldviews in Interpersonal Conflict. Retrieved from

Hofstede Insights. (2021). Compare Countries. Retrieved from

Kavanamur, D. & Esonu, B. (2011). Culture and Strategic Alliance Management in Papua New Guinea. International Public Management Review, 12 (2): 114-128.

Kelly, B. (2012).To what extent do individualism and collectivism both contribute to the common good? Retrieved from

Ugyel, L. & Marai, L. (2017). PNG’s Culture and Implications for Public Policy. Retrieved from

UNESCO. (2009). UNESCO World Report: Investing in Cultural Diversity and Intercultural Dialogue. Paris: Unesco.

Trujillo, M. A. (2008). Re-Centering Culture and Knowledge in Conflict Resolution Practice. Syracuse, N.Y: Syracuse University Press.

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