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You have been asked to

  • carry  out  library  research on problemslikely to be caused by cultural diversity within GVTs and strategies that can be used to deal with these problems. You are required to base your report on recent, authoritative academic and industry information.
  • using this research, write and submit a draft and a final report

In this report, you are to

  • provide an appropriate  definitionof  a GVT which identifies and explains the unique characteristics of GVTs (150-200 words)
  • explain, based on the research,  the likely benefits of using culturally diverse teams in a GVT. (200-300 words)
  • based on the information in the recent academic literature, discuss the likely issues or problems associated with using culturally diverse teams     (1000 -1200 words)
  • identifyeffective solutions / strategies to use in dealing with these issues  (1000 -1200 words)

Definition Of Global Virtual Teams

The global virtual teams or geographically dispersed teams can be defined as the significant group of people, who are working together from various geographic locations and solely rely on the communication technology (Pinjani & Palvia, 2013). The communication within the global virtual teams or GVTs by taking the significant technologies of communication and even engage or deliver these projects by not having any physical interactions within the team members (Klitmøller & Lauring, 2013). The following research report provides a brief description about the global virtual teams in an organization within Australia. They have decided to establish these teams and for this purpose, the senior managers of the company wishes to research regarding the several problems and issues, which would be common for the cultural diversification. This report also provides proper management solutions for the identified issues.

“Global Virtual Teams (GVTs) are groups that are (a) identified by their organizations and group members as being a team; (b) are responsible for making and implementing decisions important to the organization’s strategy; (c) use technology-supported communication more than face-to-face communication; and (d) work and live in different countries” (Pinjani & Palvia, 2013, p. 1).

As per Pinjani and Palvia (2013), the GVTs or global virtual teams are virtualized groups that could be recognized easily by the group members as well as the organizations for being one specific team with similar goals or objectives. These virtualized teams could promptly make or implement the decisions that are required for the organizational strategies. These global virtual teams usually utilize technology supportive electronic communication like emails, text messages, faxes, phone calls, audio conferencing, video conferencing and various others as well. These types of teams do not depend or work like the face to face teams (Pinjani & Palvia, 2013). Global virtual teams are absolutely culturally diversified; hence the members do not reside in same countries or same time zones.

Global virtual teams are gaining extremely popularity for all organizations in the world. The various important characteristics of a global virtual team are as follows:

The major characteristic of a GVT is that this type of team enhances cultural diversification (Klitmøller, Schneider & Jonsen, 2015). This particular characteristic can be defined as the basic quality of diverse countries throughout the world and thus culture is absolutely different from mono culture. Globalization is highly incremented with the presence of GVT in a company.

According to Carter, Seely, Dagosta, DeChurch and Zaccaro (2015), the next feature of GVT is that this type of team is geographically dispersed, which means the members of these teams belong to various parts of the world.

Another important characteristic of a GVT is that due to the geographical dispersion in these teams, communication is only possible with the help of technology (Gilson, Maynard, Jones Young, Vartiainen & Hakonen, 2015). The various modes of communication in GVTs are emails, faxes, phone calls, audio or video conferences and similar technologies.

GVTs are culturally diversified teams, which mean the members of these teams belong from various parts of the world. The most important benefits of the globalized virtual teams are as follows:

Characteristics Of Global Virtual Teams

According to Hoegl and Muethel (2016), the first benefit of the cultural diversification in a GVT is that the team is entirely technology oriented or dependent on the technologies. Since, communications within these teams are completed by taking the help of technology, these are termed as technology oriented. By the proper use of technology, the entire communication system is being enhanced.

GVTs encourage different types of languages within the teams. Since, the members of GVTs are from various parts of the world, several different languages are present in the teams (Lilian, 2014). GVTs are the only type of teams that encourage as well as welcome several languages and thus enhancing globalization.

As per Crisp and Jarvenpaa (2013), another major advantage of cultural diversity in GVT is that it provides higher or better productivity than any other teams in the world. The high productivity within the teams makes these quite popular and significant for the organizations in the world.

The global virtual team has a major chance of better availability of talents. As the members of this particular team are from various parts of the world, a pool or mass group of talents is present in the teams (Ruppel, Gong & Tworoger, 2013). The productivity of the teams is much better than any other teams due to these talents.

The above mentioned four benefits clearly define the various advantages of cultural diversification within any specific GVT. According to Krumm, Kanthak, Hartmann and Hertel, (2016), in spite of having various important and significant characteristics as well as benefits, these global virtual teams often faces major problem due to the cultural diversification. These various problems or issues that are caused for the cultural diversification within the globalized virtual teams are as follows:

As per Gera et al., (2013), the first and the foremost or even the most important problem due to the cultural diversification within the global virtual teams is the communication. Since, the members of these teams are from various parts of the world, communication is the only way to connect with one another. There are explicitly three major issues in communication related to cultural diversification, which are linguistic barriers, trust and types of communication.

Linguistic Barriers: According to Hosseini and Chileshe (2013), the basic cultural diversification within these global virtual teams solely encourages the various languages and this particular encouragement brings linguistic barriers in that team. For example, if any member is not easy or comfortable with that specific language that is being used for the communication purpose in team, he or she might be feeling left out or might be mentally harassed (Killingsworth, Xue & Liu, 2016). Moreover, this particular member might not be able to share his or her views and ideas with the rest of the team and hence the organization or the team would be losing a productive employee and some efficient ideas for the project. The language barriers within the teams are the major components for the communication breakdown or coordination breakdown between the members. As per Magnusson, Schuster and Taras (2014), furthermore, often it has been observed that the teams that have linguistic barriers are often victims of work culture differences.

Benefits Of Cultural Diversification In Gvt

Trust: The second distinct problem in communication related to cultural diversification in any global virtual team is the lack of trust amongst the various team members (Zaugg & Davies, 2013). The first and the foremost disadvantage of this type of issue is the lesser productivity. When the leaders or team members do not trust their teams, it would frequently seek for monitoring the overall progress on the tasks (Purvanova, 2014). The excessive interactions amongst the team members and leaders often could be annoying for the team members, since; they are unable to complete their tasks independently. The accountability is also diluted due to the lack of trust within a global virtual team (Hosseini, Chileshe, Zuo & Baroudi, 2015). The third distinct factor is that the lack of trust is responsible for building or reinforcing of ability in any global virtual team. The expectations are not set clear due to this disadvantage and hence the team members are affected.

Communication Styles: There are various communication styles within culturally diversified members, which are passive, aggressive, passive-aggressive and assertive. The team members, who utilize passive communications styles, usually act differently (Jimenez, Boehe, Taras & Caprar, 2017). These types of communicators often become a failure in expressing their words to others and this leads to misunderstanding or communication gaps. The reverse version of passive communication is aggressive communication. This type of communication style majorly emphasizes on speaking or expressing their feelings in loud or clear voice. The aggressive communicators are responsible for making the passive communicators dominated by their voice. The third communication style is passive aggressive. These communicators can express their words but cannot confront a situation. In a GVT, passive aggressive communicators often could not say their words as they cannot show their body language. According to Klitmøller and Lauring (2013), the final style is assertive communicator. These communicators could easily express their requirements and feelings and even look for other’s expressions. These differences within the communication styles often lead to misunderstanding and hence conflicts arise amongst the team members.

 The next problem that is common due to cultural diversity in GVTs is ethic as well as cultural difference (Killingsworth, Xue & Liu, 2016). It is often noticed few members of these teams, hold grudge against those individuals, who are having different ethnicity. The cultural or religious backgrounds are also kept on top priorities in these global virtual teams. The significant discrimination and prejudice increment to a higher level and hence brings several problems related to the ethnic or cultural differences. These issues should not be entertained at any cost and proper internal policies should be present. The overall team interactions and productivity are widely hampered due to these and conflicts arise. As per Klitmoller and Lauring (2013), the power distance is also an important reason for the occurrence of such issues in GVTs. Hence, the cultural differences or values often result in misinterpretation and affects the productivity.

The next issue that occurs for the cultural diversification in a global virtual team is the easy acceptance of ideas. The most important issue that is contributed for being a successful diversified team is the presence of respect within the employees. If there is a lack of idea acceptance within the diversified culture, there is a major issue of conflicts (Lilian, 2014). These conflicts can even result in breakdown of the coordination as well as collaboration of that particular team. Since, they are not properly trained, the differences are common and one cannot accept the ideas of the rest of the members.

Problems Caused By The Cultural Diversification In Gvt

Technology utilization is the only method of communication in GVTs. The selection of media major depends on the cultural diversification. Two types of media are present as per media richness theory, which are rich media and lean media.

Rich Media: These technologies allow transmission of verbal as well as non verbal cues. This type of medium helps to enhance the visibility of non verbal cues like accent and can even lead to issues of information comprehension (Scott & Wildman, 2015). Moreover, the rich media channel like videoconferences does not provide time for communication and hence negativity is enhanced in the team.

Lean Media: These technologies allow transmission of information through restricted channels. The non verbal cues are filtered out by these media and hence collaboration is difficult here. The geographical dispersion is the major cause for issues in communication and for affecting knowledge sharing.

Another significant problem for cultural diversification in a GVT is the e-leadership. The e-leaders could easily adapt various leadership styles as per the cultural background. Although, these are quite motivating and advanced in respect to other team leaders, various issues often occur due to this (Purvanova, 2014). Due to the change in organizational and cultural structures, the e-leaders of GVTs are unable to control the team properly. Moreover, since the communication is only through technology, the e-leaders are unable to track the team continuously. Thus, the cultural dimensions are the most important requirements for ensuring effectiveness in leadership.

According to Taras et al., (2013), the management strategies can be defined as the basic techniques that are solely used to direct and control any particular organization to perfectly achieve the set of goals and objectives. All of the management strategies mainly include the several distinct strategies regarding business process execution, business administration as well as leadership. These managerial strategies are also helpful for the purpose of solving all kinds of issues preset within that specific organization’s management (Killingsworth, Xue & Liu, 2016). The various companies can easily create the clear mission and vision by the significant and perfect growth and development of all kinds of long term strategies. Hence, the required processes or even the resource allocation could be termed as much easier to achieve the specified goals and objectives. The GVTs or global virtual teams often undergo various problems for the cultural diversification. However, these issues related to the cultural diversification in GVTs can be easily resolved with the help of management strategies or solutions (Zaugg & Davies, 2013). These management strategies for all the mentioned and identified problems related to the cultural diversification in any global virtual team are given below:

There are few suitable and relevant solutions for dealing with the issue of communication due to cultural diversification in a global virtual team. There are few strategies for this purpose and these are provided below:

Arranging Face to Face Meetings:  As a specified member of the team does not have the scope to communicate with all the remaining members of that team by means of the face to face communications, a major gap may occur. There are some solutions for the proper mitigation of these problems (Derven, 2016). The most relevant solution to mitigate this specific problem of lack of face to face communication is by arranging the weekly and monthly audio conferencing as well as video conferencing for all the members of that global virtual team (Ford, Piccolo & Ford, 2017). Moreover, if possible, arrangement of face to face meetings is also required here. The body language helps to solve misinterpretation to a greater level.

Use of Technology: As per Luse et al., (2013), the second strategy to reduce communication problem in cultural diversified global virtual team is the proper utilization of technology. It helps in maintaining the connectivity and then fostering major relationships within the members of the teams. The social interaction should be enhanced in such teams to improve coordination and collaboration. Moreover, the members of the team get to know each other with the help of these technologies. Use of electronic mails is the best methodology for removing the miscommunications and lack of communications (Magnusson, Schuster & Taras, 2014). It is the fastest mode of communication that is being used in each and every team worldwide.

Using Language Interpreter: According to Hoegl and Muethel (2016), another distinct and popular type of issue that is quite common for the global virtual teams and mainly occurs for the cultural diversification is the linguistic barriers. The global virtual teams recruit their team members from all parts of the world. Proper and perfect interactions are required within the members of global virtual teams for the successful removal of the linguistic barriers (Lilian, 2014). The next relevant and suitable solution for solving this particular issue within a specific global virtual team is to find for the reliable or trustworthy services of translation. The involvement of an interpreter within these types of teams is also extremely effective or efficient for resolving linguistic barriers in the virtual teams (Klitmøller, Schneider & Jonsen, 2015).

Since all the members of this type of virtualized teams belong from different parts of the world, it becomes an important issue of ethnic as well as cultural differences. The most effective way to mitigate such issues is by arranging a cultural awareness program (Pinjani & Palvia, 2013). The high level of diversity majorly affects the team collaboration and coordination and even impacts on team production. For this purpose, the team members should have an awareness program so that they are aware of the deeper level of attributes, existing for the various cultural diversity or ethnic diversity. This type of training would ensure encouragement of social relationship and acceptance of variance in the attributes.

According to Ruppel, Gong and Tworoger (2013), the next identified issue in GVT is lack of acceptance of ideas within the team members. The first and the foremost method for solving this issue is by maintaining clarity in the ideas. When the team members would be clear and proper in their ideas, the remaining team members are bound to listen to them. The role clarity is the next effective strategy for solving this issue in a global virtual team. If the team leader will arrange meetings and every member will be allowed and welcomed forward to present their ideas, it is evident that the rest of the members would be listening to him or her without any issue (Zaugg & Davies, 2013). Moreover, rewards and recognition are the next managerial strategy. When both the speaker and the audience will be awarded for their participation, the team members would be motivated and this issue would be resolved.

 The best solution for solving this particular issue is by selecting those media, which would be suitable for the team. In some of the global virtual teams, a rich media technology like video conference is better, since, both the verbal and non verbal cues are transmitted. The rich media is more effective for a larger group having more cultural diversification since it helps to transmit the body language to the audience (Purvanova, 2014). On the other hand, the non verbal cue like accent is not proper for all team members. With the use of rich media technologies, he or she might feel humiliated for lack of fluency in accent. In those cases, lean media is effective, as it does not transmit body language, pronunciation or accent.

According to Pinjani and Palvia (2013), the issues related to e-leadership could be resolved by change in processes. The e-leader should outline the clear guidelines to the team. A prompt feedback from the e-leader is the nest need in this case. An efficient team leader will always give a prompt feedback to the issues raised and will be clear with his role. Motivation is also effective for solving these issues.

Conclusion

Therefore, from the above report, it can be concluded that the technological applications play the most important roles in a global virtual team. These global virtual teams are smaller temporary groups of organizationally, geographically and time dispersed knowledge based workers, who are responsible for coordinating their tasks predominantly with the means of electronic ICT or information and communication technology for the major goal of accomplishing more than one organizational tasks. The above report has properly outlined the entire concept of global virtual teams for any particular company in Australia that has taken the decision for involving global virtual teams in their business for gaining more competitive advantages. The major characteristics as well as benefits of these types of teams are well explained in this report. Moreover, various problems related to the cultural diversification are also provided here with relevant management strategies for solving all these issues.

References

Carter, D. R., Seely, P. W., Dagosta, J., DeChurch, L. A., & Zaccaro, S. J. (2015). Leadership for global virtual teams: Facilitating teamwork processes. In Leading global teams (pp. 225-252). Springer, New York, NY. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4939-2050-1_10u 

Crisp, C. B., & Jarvenpaa, S. L. (2013). Swift trust in global virtual teams: Trusting beliefs and normative actions. Journal of Personnel Psychology, 12(1), 45. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1548051812472370 

Derven, M. (2016). Four drivers to enhance global virtual teams. Industrial and Commercial Training, 48(1), 1-8.  https://doi.org/10.1108/ICT-08-2015-0056 

Ford, R. C., Piccolo, R. F., & Ford, L. R. (2017). Strategies for building effective virtual teams: Trust is key. Business Horizons, 60(1), 25-34. https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bushor.2016.08.009

Gera, S., Aneeshkumar, G., Fernandez, S., Gireeshkumar, G., Nze, I., & Eze, U. (2013). Virtual teams versus face to face teams: A review of literature. IOSR Journal of Business and Management, 11(2), 1-4. https://dx.doi.org/10.9790/487X-1120104 

Gibson, C. B., Huang, L., Kirkman, B. L., & Shapiro, D. L. (2014). Where global and virtual meet: The value of examining the intersection of these elements in twenty-first-century teams. Annu. Rev. Organ. Psychol. Organ. Behav., 1(1), 217-244. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-orgpsych-031413-091240 

Gilson, L. L., Maynard, M. T., Jones Young, N. C., Vartiainen, M., & Hakonen, M. (2015). Virtual teams research: 10 years, 10 themes, and 10 opportunities. Journal of Management, 41(5), 1313-1337. https://doi.org/10.1177/0149206314559946 

Hoegl, M., & Muethel, M. (2016). Enabling shared leadership in virtual project teams: A practitioners’ guide. Project Management Journal, 47(1), 7-12. https://doi/abs/10.1002/pmj.21564

Hosseini, M. R., & Chileshe, N. (2013). Global virtual engineering teams (GVETs): A fertile ground for research in Australian construction projects context. International Journal of Project Management, 31(8), 1101-1117. https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijproman.2013.01.001 

Hosseini, M. R., Chileshe, N., Zuo, J., & Baroudi, B. (2015). Adopting global virtual engineering teams in AEC Projects: A qualitative meta-analysis of innovation diffusion studies. Construction Innovation, 15(2), 151-179. https://doi.org/10.1108/CI-12-2013-0058 

Jimenez, A., Boehe, D. M., Taras, V., & Caprar, D. V. (2017). Working across boundaries: Current and future perspectives on global virtual teams. Journal of International Management, 23(4), 341-349. https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.intman.2017.05.001

Killingsworth, B., Xue, Y., & Liu, Y. (2016). Factors influencing knowledge sharing among global virtual teams. Team Performance Management, 22(5/6), 284-300. https://doi.org/10.1108/TPM-10-2015-0042

Klitmøller, A., & Lauring, J. (2013). When global virtual teams share knowledge: Media richness, cultural difference and language commonality. Journal of World Business, 48(3), 398-406. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jwb.2012.07.023  

Klitmøller, A., Schneider, S. C., & Jonsen, K. (2015). Speaking of global virtual teams: language differences, social categorization and media choice. Personnel Review, 44(2), 270-285.  https://doi.org/10.1108/PR-11-2013-0205 

Krumm, S., Kanthak, J., Hartmann, K., & Hertel, G. (2016). What does it take to be a virtual team player? The knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics required in virtual teams. Human Performance, 29(2), 123-142. https://10.1080/08959285.2016.1154061 

Lilian, S. C. (2014). Virtual teams: Opportunities and challenges for e-leaders. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 110, 1251-1261. https://10.1016/j.sbspro.2013.12.972

Luse, A., McElroy, J. C., Townsend, A. M., & Demarie, S. (2013). Personality and cognitive style as predictors of preference for working in virtual teams. Computers in Human Behavior, 29(4), 1825-1832. https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2013.02.007

Magnusson, P., Schuster, A., & Taras, V. (2014). A process-based explanation of the psychic distance paradox: Evidence from global virtual teams. Management international review, 54(3), 283-306. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11575-014-0208-5 

Pinjani, P., & Palvia, P. (2013). Trust and knowledge sharing in diverse global virtual teams. Information & Management, 50(4), 144-153. https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.im.2012.10.002

Purvanova, R. K. (2014). Face-to-face versus virtual teams: What have we really learned?. The Psychologist-Manager Journal, 17(1), 2. https://doi.org/10.1037/mgr0000009  

Ruppel, C. P., Gong, B., & Tworoger, L. C. (2013). Using communication choices as a boundary-management strategy: How choices of communication media affect the work–life balance of teleworkers in a global virtual team. Journal of Business and Technical Communication, 27(4), 436-471. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1050651913490941 

Scott, C. P., & Wildman, J. L. (2015). Culture, communication, and conflict: A review of the global virtual team literature. In Leading global teams (pp. 13-32). Springer, New York, NY. https://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4939-2050-1_2

Taras, V., Caprar, D. V., Rottig, D., Sarala, R. M., Zakaria, N., Zhao, F., ... & Bry?a, P. (2013). A global classroom? Evaluating the effectiveness of global virtual collaboration as a teaching tool in management education. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 12(3), 414-435. https://doi.org/10.5465/amle.2012.0195 

Zaugg, H., & Davies, R. S. (2013). Communication skills to develop trusting relationships on global virtual engineering capstone teams. European Journal of Engineering Education, 38(2), 228-233. https://doi.org/10.1080/03043797.2013.766678 

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