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Challenges Faced by Global Teams

Question:

Write business research paper on Challenges of managing global teams.

There are an increasing number of companies who are becoming more dependent on the geographically dispersed workforce for greater market penetration and greater business prospects (Klitmøller and Lauring 2013). The companies are engaging in building teams that offer the best technical as well as functional expertise around the world coupled with the local knowledge of the concerned market (Lilian 2014). The global market penetration brings in international diversity in the team as it brings together people from many cultures and with different work experiences. They are also able to implement different takes on the organizational and strategic diversity (Klitmøller and Lauring 2013). However, the managers of the global teams do face stiff challenges as creating efficient as well as successful teams is a tough job. There can be severe misunderstandings between the teams, which is quite natural, owing to the diverse geographic locations.

This paper would discuss the different challenges faced by the global teams in their day to day functioning. It would help to understand the different managing challenges when they are given the responsibility of handling the cross-border teams.

This project would aim to understand the various kinds of difficulties faced by the mangers of the multinational companies when managing cross-border teams. The aim of the project is to understand the different levels of the problems faced by the multinational managers in their day to day job role. There are different aspects of the cross border teams, which needs to be understood. This project would also aim to understand the different management styles of the global managers, so that their challenges can be understood more easily. The various obstacles being faced by the global managers which prevent them from achieving operational excellence would be determined.

The scope of the project would only consider the multinational companies that are located in different geographical locations. The companies should be separated by international orders and they should be located in different countries. The concerned teams are located in different time zones, country and geographical territories. The companies located in only one country and having no plans of international expansion are outside the scope of this research.

As commented by Moran, Abramson and Moran (2014), an increasing number of workforces are working in different cultures, different time zones and they may speak different languages. A manager may be managing teams based in Shanghai, Paris, India and California simultaneously. Irrespective of the work organization, managing teams in different locations can be a huge issue. Pieterse, Van Knippenberg and Van Dierendonck (2013) add that the primary aim of the culturally diverse team is to tap the local talent of the region, which would help the employees to attain organizational goals (Klitmøller and Lauring 2013). This would also ensure that there is an increase in the organizational productivity of the company. Podsiadlowski et al. (2013) has conducted two studies in which the organizational approach to the diversity as well as management of the cultural diversity has been studied. A diversity perspective questionnaire (DPQ) has been formulated which is used to measure the organizational approach towards diversity.

Managing Multinational Cross-Border Teams

Daim et al. (2012) argues that the virtually managed organizations are becoming extremely popular extremely in the high technology sectors. The global virtual teams (GVT) are electronically communicating groups with great degree of cultural and geographical diversity. One of the major issues faced by the global teams is the communication breakdown (Daim et al. 2012). This can cause destruction when the team members find it very hard to communicate with the cross-border team in an effective manner (Klitmøller and Lauring 2013). This drives the fact that the there are increased delivery risks of the projects as there would be no exchange of words between the geographically dispersed teams (Klitmøller and Lauring 2013). The communication breakdown may be attributed to various topics such as interpersonal relations, trust, technology and leadership. Shaffer et al. (2012) argues that there has been an increasing interest to work in the global teams. There have been several growth experiences in the global work, which include the self-initiated expatriates and corporate expatriates. There are several forms of the global employment such as short-term assignees, international business travelers and others.

The findings of Dyer and Dyer (2013) reveal that temporary teams, which are being formed for short period of time, have no time for various team developing activities. This makes them to start off the work immediately without having to plan about how the task would be carried out, performance goals would be achieved or building upon the commitment of the individual group members (Dyer and Dyer 2013). There have been problems with work authorization especially when cross-border teams are involved. There can be severe delay in work as teams may not get authorization instantly (Dyer and Dyer 2013). There are also issues when the decisions of the temporary teams need the support of other stakeholders such as various other departments, groups or teams. Zander, Mockaitis and Butler (2012) defends by saying that the global teams have high levels of national, linguistic and cultural heterogeneity which do take place when they start operating in global marketplace. An increasing focus has been laid on the people oriented leadership which can leverage diversity to a large extent. Dyer and Dyer (2013) suggest that the temporary teams function as similar to that of the permanent teams. The concerned team members should be able to build a highly supportive climate, in which there would be mechanism for setting up of goals, solving various issues, decision-making process and establishment of open channels of communication (Klitmøller and Lauring 2013). This may cause poor organizational culture in which the employees would not be able to realize their full potential.


The effective human resource policies depend on the various levels of the employee engagement activities. As opined by Moe et al. (2014) there are situations in which the employees working in the off-shore job assignments lack motivation and they do not feel like working (Klitmøller and Lauring 2013). They do not have the chance to visit the office every day, just like the employees in the home country and hence they do get distracted from work. This reduces the organizational productivity and there are many instances of project failures.  Liu and Woywode (2013) argued that the decision-making activity in the cross-border team is a really challenging affair and this is mainly due to the difference in the time-zones of the offices located in different geographical territories. There can be difficulty in organizing meeting since there would be only few hours of common “office time” of the people. This would prevent the team from exchanging vital information regarding important matters, which would slow down the decision-making process (Klitmøller and Lauring 2013). The cross-border teams can take several days or days to schedule a meeting which would be convenient for all the employees.

Obstacles faced by Multinational Managers

One of the key challenges of the cross functional team is the conflicting corporate culture. Mowday, Porter and Steers (2013) agree that a great company culture is usually dependant on regular interaction between the employees. This not only promotes excellent team bonding but it also helps to improve the organizational culture. Different cultures have given different importance to the cultural values. For example, Indians have a more relaxed attitude to work whereas Americans put emphasis on ambition, curiosity and self-confidence. This may result in various forms of miscommunications especially when these nationalities come to work together. The manager may be having a tough time in managing the different forms of misunderstandings that may occur in the team. Samovar et al. (2015) agrees that the main mode of communication in virtual teams is technology such as voice messaging services, emails and messengers. There can be technology glitches, which can form severe barrier in the communication process. A minor technological issue may take the shape of a huge problem, which may cause much delayed communication (Mowday, Porter and Steers 2013). There can also be lack of understanding in the interpretation of the messages, which may lead to conflicts in the team. On the event of technology failure, there would be no one to monitor the work of the offshore employees and this may cause casual attitude of the employees. The employees may roam around the entire day and this may cause bad performances of the employees. This may cause issues with the team performance and the team building activities as well. The organization may not be able to achieve its goals and may suffer in the long run.


According to Alvesson and Sveningsson (2015), there is lack of coordination between the virtual teams prevents the team from achieving their full potential. The employees having their immediate supervisors in foreign locations may have great trouble in interacting day to day job affairs (Mowday, Porter and Steers 2013). There are more chances of conflicts that may occur in the team due to lack of support from the supervisors. This may be a problem for the new team members, who need extensive support from their managers. Cappelli and Keller (2013) states that there can be severe issues in evaluating and monitoring the virtual team performance. The remote working options are quite attractive but they are difficult to determine the virtual team performance (Mowday, Porter and Steers 2013). As the team members would be located in a distant location, hence it becomes difficult for the managers to evaluate their day to day performance. In an organization, there should be individual goals along with the monthly, weekly and quarterly goals. There are also times when the goals set by the team are not objective and quantifiable (Mowday, Porter and Steers 2013). This causes a lot of disputes in teams, which often damages the team productivity.

The thoughts of Crisp and Jarvenpaa (2013) are aligned with the virtual teams in which there is lack of vision and the team is unable to assess the future operational challenges or the way of functioning. There are difficulties in the knowledge sharing and there are chances when there is passage of excessive information, which are often not required (Mowday, Porter and Steers 2013). The managers may not be able to give adequate training to the team and hence the team members would not be able to upgrade their current skills and knowledge. When there is no long term vision for the global teams, then they would not be able to give their best performance.

Managing Temporary and Permanent Teams

According to Alvesson and Sveningsson (2015), one of the most common challenges faced by the global managers is getting the company hierarchy right. The different geographical position may pose challenge for the managers and they may also be unable to assess the size of the cross border teams (Mowday, Porter and Steers 2013). This puts huge burden on the smooth functioning of their day to day job duties. This also makes it difficult for the managers to make efficient utilization of the resources.

Conclusion

The disconnections between the international employees and the management are a growing concern in the multinational companies of modern times. There are many issues faced by the teams who are located in diverse geographical locations. This research has put light on some of the most important challenges that are faced by the global managers. The managers are often not fully equipped to handle the international teams such as instances when there is a poor telecommunication network in which the companies would be unable to establish contact with the foreign country members. There is often management problems which may arise between the teams located in the home country and the employees located in foreign location. This paper would help in broader issues of the various problems faced by the global managers.

Reference List

Alvesson, M. and Sveningsson, S., 2015. Changing organizational culture: Cultural change work in progress. Routledge.

Cappelli, P. and Keller, J.R., 2013. Classifying work in the new economy. Academy of Management Review, 38(4), pp.575-596.

Crisp, C.B. and Jarvenpaa, S.L., 2013. Swift trust in global virtual teams. Journal of Personnel Psychology.

Daim, T.U., Ha, A., Reutiman, S., Hughes, B., Pathak, U., Bynum, W. and Bhatla, A., 2012. Exploring the communication breakdown in global virtual teams. International Journal of Project Management, 30(2), pp.199-212.

Dyer, W.G. and Dyer, J.H., 2013. Team building: Proven strategies for improving team performance. John Wiley & Sons.

Klitmøller, A. and Lauring, J., 2013. When global virtual teams share knowledge: Media richness, cultural difference and language commonality. Journal of World Business, 48(3), pp.398-406.

Lilian, S.C., 2014. Virtual teams: Opportunities and challenges for e-leaders. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 110, pp.1251-1261.

Liu, Y. and Woywode, M., 2013. Light?Touch Integration of Chinese Cross?Border M&A: The In?uences of Culture and Absorptive Capacity. Thunderbird International Business Review, 55(4), pp.469-483.

Moe, N.B., Šmite, D., Hanssen, G.K. and Barney, H., 2014. From offshore outsourcing to insourcing and partnerships: four failed outsourcing attempts. Empirical Software Engineering, 19(5), pp.1225-1258.

Moran, R.T., Abramson, N.R. and Moran, S.V., 2014. Managing cultural differences. Routledge.

Mowday, R.T., Porter, L.W. and Steers, R.M., 2013. Employee—organization linkages: The psychology of commitment, absenteeism, and turnover. Academic press.

Pieterse, A.N., Van Knippenberg, D. and Van Dierendonck, D., 2013. Cultural diversity and team performance: The role of team member goal orientation. Academy of Management Journal, 56(3), pp.782-804.

Podsiadlowski, A., Gröschke, D., Kogler, M., Springer, C. and Van Der Zee, K., 2013. Managing a culturally diverse workforce: Diversity perspectives in organizations. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 37(2), pp.159-175.

Samovar, L.A., Porter, R.E., McDaniel, E.R. and Roy, C.S., 2015. Communication between cultures. Nelson Education.

Shaffer, M.A., Kraimer, M.L., Chen, Y.P. and Bolino, M.C., 2012. Choices, challenges, and career consequences of global work experiences: A review and future agenda. Journal of Management, 38(4), pp.1282-1327.

Zander, L., Mockaitis, A.I. and Butler, C.L., 2012. Leading global teams. Journal of World Business, 47(4), pp.592-603.

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