Knowledge Sharing in Cross-Cultural Virtual Teams

Knowledge Sharing in Cross-Cultural Virtual Teams

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Inhaltsangabe:Introduction: The intensified globalisation and increased interconnectedness of the business world let emerge a new virtual form of work that operates with cross-cultural virtual teams (CCVTs). Hence, communication takes place increasingly across cultures, which lets culture emerge as an important factor in business, and constitutes one of the most significant limits for CCVTs. Despite these limits, quick dissemination of knowledge within a company has become one of the most crucial resources for competitive advantage, which many organisations have only just begun to understand. Therefore, CCVTs are required to effectively share knowledge in order to complete their projects successfully. Furthermore, researchers recommendations about future virtual team research concern both development of new theories and explicit identification of the appropriation of existing theories . They further affirm that in spite of several researchers coming to similar conclusions, the development of new theories about virtual teams has been little advanced. Information is needed about how to ensure the efficient flow of knowledge, scattered around the globe, among members of CCVTs in organisations, which, in the following text are understood as business organisations, to become and stay competitive in the global market. Thus, it seems to be an interesting theoretical and practical question to analyse people s experiences made in the CCVT environment with the aim towards building a theoretical framework that explains knowledge sharing (KS) between people in CCVTs. OBJECTIVES: The research aims to fulfill three objectives. Firstly, it intends to provide an approach to a theoretical framework based on the Grounded Theory Method, about how knowledge is shared among members in teams that communicate across different cultures via virtual communication channels (VCCs). Thereby the focus is not directed on KS in information technology or cognitive psychology. Instead, it aims to identify problem areas and solution possibilities concerning behavioural aspects of people in CCVTs. Secondly, by elaborating the solution possibilities, the paper shall give guidance for good practice of KS in CCVTs in order to be of practical use for people working in the virtual environment. Thirdly, the results shall inspire future research to tackle interesting questions that arose from or were left open in this research. STRUCTURE OF THE THESIS: Introduced by the purpose, objectives, structure, and definitions on KS, CCVTs, and culture, the thesis continues onto the second chapter about the used methodology, the Grounded Theory Method, on which s basis the study has been conducted. The third chapter describes and discusses the obtained results. The tentative theoretical model, comprising the findings of chapter three, is presented in the fourth chapter, followed by the fifth chapter, which provides a literature review, conducted in order to reinforce and add to the actual findings. The sixth chapter outlines the limitations of the study and comes up with ideas for future research. To conclude, the thesis provides a short summary. Inhaltsverzeichnis:Table of Contents: ACKNOWLEDGEMENTI ABSTRACTII INDEX TO CONTENTSIII ABBREVIATIONSVII LIST OF FIGURESVIII LIST OF TABLESIX 1.INTRODUCTION1 1.1PURPOSE1 1.2OBJECTIVES1 1.3STRUCTURE OF THE THESIS2 1.4DEFINITIONS2 1.4.1KNOWLEDGE SHARING (KS)2 1.4.2CROSS-CULTURAL VIRTUAL TEAMS (CCVTs)3 1.4.3CULTURE4 2.METHODOLOGY6 2.1RESEARCH DESIGN6 2.2RESEARCH PROCESS7 2.2.1DATA COLLECTION7 2.2.2ANALYTICAL PROCEDURES11 2.3ALTERNATIVE TO A LITERATURE REVIEW12 2.4STRAUSS S AND GLASER S DIFFERENT APPROACHES TO THE GTM13 3.RESULTS16 3.1FIVE COUNTERACTING FACTORS TO THE BREAKTHROUGH OF THE CROSS-CULTURAL VIRTUAL (CVV) BARRIER16 3.1.1INEFFECTIVE USE OF VIRTUAL COMMUNICATION CHANNELS (VCCs)17 USE OF VCCs17 OF VCCs ACCORDING TO PEOPLE S EXPECTATIONS18 OF CERTAIN VCCs19 OF VCCs DESPITE AVAILABILITY20 3.1.2TIME DIFFERENCES21 3.1.3INSUFFICIENT FOREIGN LANGUAGE SKILLS OF CCVT MEMBERS22 3.1.4UNSHARED PERCEPTIONS OF REALITY23 3.1.5LACK OF COMPANY SUPPORT OF CCVTs26 3.1.6INTERMEDIATE SUMMARY27 3.2A NEGATIVE SPIRAL AS A CONSEQUENCE OF THE FIVE COUNTERACTING FACTORS27 3.2.1REDUCED TRANSMISSION OF CONTEXT27 TRANSMISSION OF CONTEXT DUE TO INEFFECTIVE USE OF VCCs28 TRANSMISSION OF CONTEXT DUE TO TIME DIFFERENCES30 TRANSMISSION OF CONTEXT DUE TO INSUFFICIENT FOREIGN LANGUAGE SKILLS30 TRANSMISSION OF CONTEXT DUE TO LACK OF KNOWLEDGE ABOUT UNSHARED PERCEPTIONS OF REALITY30 3.2.2CONSEQUENCES OF REDUCED TRANSMISSION OF CONTEXT31 3.2.3INTERMEDIATE SUMMARY32 3.3A POSITIVE SPIRAL AS A CONSEQUENCE OF THINKING AND ACTING FROM A CCV PERSPECTIVE GUIDANCE FOR GOOD PRACTICE33 3.3.1COMPANY SUPPORT FOR SUCCESSFUL KS IN CCVTs34 OF CCVTs INTO THE ORGANISATION34 OF VIRTUAL, CROSS-CULTURAL, AND LANGUAGE TRAINING34 OF ESSENTIAL VCCs AND TRAVEL BUDGET35 3.3.2MANAGEMENT FOR SUCCESSFUL KS IN CCVTs36 OF CLEAR STRUCTURE AND RULES OF THE GAME36 DIFFERENT TIME ZONES37 THE VIRTUAL WORK ENVIRONMENT37 EFFICIENT CCVT MEETINGS38 3.3.3SELECTING FOR SUCCESSFUL KS IN CCVTs39 CRITERIA FOR CCVT WORKERS39 AND OPPORTUNITIES IN SELECTION PROCESSES42 IS IN IT FOR CCVT WORKERS42 3.3.4LEADERSHIP FOR SUCCESSFUL KS IN CCVTs43 3.3.5TRAINING FOR SUCCESSFUL KS IN CCVTs45 A COMMON BASIS FOR THE MEMBERS OF A CCVT46 USE OF VCCs49 3.3.6INTERMEDIATE SUMMARY51 4.MODEL OF KS IN CCVTs AND TENTATIVE HYPOTHESIS53 5.COMPARISON OF THE EMERGED THEORETICAL APPROACH TO RELATED LITERATURE56 6.LIMITATIONS AND FUTURE RESEARCH63 7.CONCLUSION63 BIBLIOGRAPHY65 APPENDICES70 APPENDIX A: APPLICATION OF STRAUSS S AND GLASER S APPROACHES IN THIS WORK70 APPENDIX B: THE RESEARCH PROCESS EXPERIENCED AS A CIRCULAR PROCESS72 APPENDIX C: THE EMERGENCE OF THE CCV BARRIER73 APPENDIX D: THE FINDINGS OF ROSEN ET AL, (2007)74 Textprobe:Text Sample: Chapter 3.1.4, UNSHARED PERCEPTIONS OF REALITY: The fourth counteracting factor is that people in CCVTs have unshared perceptions of reality. In order to understand this factor in more detail, the idea of unshared perceptions of reality between individuals from different places, along with expectations from external environments, shall be explained in the following, before coming to deliberations about the fourth factor as such. Due to geographical distance, traditionally, groups that were located at one place, had tendentially the same cultural characteristics. This relates to the idea of national culture that describes the culture of people from a particular geographical place. By the rise of the internet, however, providing the opportunity of connecting with various groups across the globe, as well as the opportunity to travel, it could be said that people are becoming more and more influenced by different ways of perceiving the world. Consequently, national culture was mentioned to be only one of several types of culture that had an impact on the different perceptions of reality of CCVT members and consequently on their personalities. In the context of CCVT work therefore, it is advisable to look at the personalities of individuals, who are influenced by multiple cultures by being part of different groups. So it was, for example, assumed that there existed city-cultures which combined the culture of all those people living in megacities across the globe, which could be kind of a new international culture. It was also mentioned that groups of professionals, and even different generations, had their own cultures. However, national culture was mentioned to having to be considered when CCVTs had to deal with groups of people from different countries. In this case, these groups consisted of individuals who shared the same perceptions of reality, and imposed on them external expectations to which they had to conform. An individual, dealing with such a group, had to obviously adapt to their expectations when communicating with them. A related example was given by an interviewee who had experience in collaboration between companies with low hierarchies and such with high hierarchies. He explained the situation and how they overcame the barrier of different realities: if CCVTs have an Asian in the team, due to their hierarchical system, it is as if the direct superior of the Asian team member, to whom he feels committed, would be within the team as well. And so, he always has to make sure that his superior gives his blessings to what he agrees on in the team. Therefore the CCVT leader has to somehow integrate this superior into the team as well, and has to consider his opinion . It becomes obvious, to which external constraints individuals in such an environment have to subject. Additionally, any team member who had to communicate with the CCVT member in the strongly hierarchical company was, as well, connected to a certain degree with the tacit and explicit rules and policies the Asian team member had to comply with, which restricted open and spontaneous KS in the team. It was confirmed by interviewees that KS is much dependent on organisational culture. In this case it seems that the organisational structure and culture was influenced by the Asian national culture. At the same time, organisational culture can be influenced by the particular industry or their traditional values, even if the external environment had already changed. Organisational culture was thereby mentioned to play a major role in KS and could be understood as the shared perceptions of reality among people within an organisation. So, it was stated that there were differences between organisations, such as in their particular values and traditions. If for example, an organisation was more individualistic oriented, it was said that KS would be done less deliberately than if there was a collectivistic culture, with reward systems such as group bonuses. Organisations develop their individual shared perceptions of reality, influenced by their founders, the structure of the surrounding environment, and external and internal stakeholders. Therefore, organisations are influenced by external factors such as traditional values, political systems, infrastructure, and competitive environments, and by internal factors such as the individuals who join the organisation, who either adapt to the company s shared perceptions of reality, or not, but still permanently add new influence. Furthermore, organisations are exposed to permanent change, and so, always try to match the company s strategic goal to the best available external trend. This can require changing particular aspects of perceiving reality. Thereby, it is critical, how willing and able organisations are to change their perception of reality in order to adapt to these changes. In addition, size and structure of organisations have an impact. Larger companies might for example not be as flexible as smaller companies, which could have an impact on their culture, and consequently display more conservative, or in contrast, more innovative aspects. Referring to structure, hierarchically structured organisations would obviously cause different perceptions of reality, and consequently different values and behaviours among the employees, than companies with horizontal structures, where open door policies for example, would obviously be possible, whereas in hierarchical structure they would not. By coming back to the fourth factor of unshared perceptions of reality, it was reported, that individuals had totally different approaches and perspectives about what is important to be communicated. So, for example, in a kick-off meeting of a CCVT composed of people from two different branches of an organisation, a presentation, which focused straight on the project outcomes, was presented by the group from one branch to the group from the other. The listeners however, expected detailed information about the process of the actual project instead of hearing an entertaining presentation about intended results. Consequently, they were confused about the presenters. They started to mistrust them by supposing that the presenters would not know much about how to manage the process. It can be assumed that there thought pattern needed the information about the process, and could not be convinced by being presented intended outcomes. It was reported that this incident affected trust building in this CCVT. A further point was that people solved conflicts according to their particular perceptions of reality. For example, it was reported, that individuals who were much concerned about the well-being of their colleagues wrote long emails with a lot of relationship-related content in order to establish a good atmosphere. Some of their colleagues however, were more concerned about achieving quick results, and therefore upset about such long emails with irrelevant information. They consequently wrote back very short task-related texts, which again offended their communication partners. The conflict solving process proceeded contrarily to a successful conflict solving procedure. Since the relationship-oriented individuals thought they had failed in achieving a good atmosphere due to being too little concerned about the relationship, they started to write even longer emails. In contrast, the result-oriented individuals wrote even shorter texts. Both sides became more and more confused about the effect they caused with their behaviour, which were opposed to the effects they intended to cause. This showed how two individuals, who valued exactly the opposite things, and tried to solve conflicts accordingly, intensified conflicts instead of solving them, which obviously restrict KS in CCVTs.13 (translated from German) The need for teams to being crossed-linked is getting always stronger. ... Without moderation: via the distance very difficult, since people will avoid confronting the conflict and will e.g. only write emails. How to combine the ... Still there are different interpretations of the company culture. There areanbsp;...

Title:Knowledge Sharing in Cross-Cultural Virtual Teams
Author:Anna F. Breitenöder - 2009-01-11


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