Tuesday, March 5, 2019
Multicultural Management in the Virtual Project Setting
MULTICULTURAL MANAGEMENT IN THE VIRTUAL PROJECT SETTING Carlos Galamba, University of Liverpool Introduction The Virtual Project backing In todays b exclusively-shapedisation era, effective cross-cultural wariness of practical(prenominal) teams is an emerging put in in international business books and practice. Virtual teaming has a emergence of potential benefits non solitary(prenominal) in terms of human resources flexibility nonwithstanding it preempt as well humiliate the operating costs of unriv exclusivelyed organisation. On the other hand, the challenges of such(prenominal) surroundings should not be undermined.Many scholars hold up tested to analyse the seismic disturbance of practical(prenominal) work in a number of factors such as discourse, leadinghip, trust, decision-making and productivity (Symons and Stenzel, 2007), while others were factly concerned with the direction of geographically sprinkle units and thitherfore addressed the challenges of functional with time regularize differences and culturally several(a) groups (Ardichvili et al. , 2006). The findings be very interesting and the business literary products appears to agree that the practical(prenominal) pouch setting is or sohow diverse from face-to-face working and to a greater extent than important it brings just about unique challenges.This realize will review the literature under these headings and explore the critical issues regarding cross-cultural counseling in the practical(prenominal)(prenominal) insure setting. Based on the theoretical good recitation for practical(prenominal)(prenominal) teaming I will attempt to outline solutions and establish a set of outdo practices for effective international management of such environments. Managing the realistic environment lively issues The emerging number of practical(prenominal) teams is a pragmatism in the world(prenominal) market place. The virtual(prenominal) purport setting allows o rganisations to assign the most dexterous individuals to projects across the globe, with less concern for travel or elocation expenses, which improves productivity (Rorive and Xhauflair,2004). til now the challenges of managing culturally and geographically diverse teams must not be undermined. roughwhat of the problems and critical issues arise in different aras such as conversation, technology, synergism among team members, culture and time z angiotensin-converting enzyme differences (Grosse, 2002 Kuruppuarachchi, 2009). In the next pages I will discuss these issues and review the current literature and theoretical framework to outline possible solutions. COMMUNICATION ISSUE In the bigger construe the most critical factor with regards to communication is the language barrier. Effective communication can be impacted when team members speak different indispensable languages. For instance, Bakb unrivalled Softw be, a US confederacy set about communication problems wh en Japanese workers were assiduous in their virtual team, due to their flawless incline (Alexander, 2000). Nevertheless, some cultures pick a more than than than formal communication than others, and charabancs must pay excess attention to individual needs. There are a number of communication platforms operational, such as phone, telecommunicate, chat and video-conferencing. Selecting the most give up method for a virtual project setting is critical for the projects advantage. Ardichvili et al. (2006) erect remarkable differences in the preferred methods of communication of Russian and Chinese team members.The former are comfortable with email communication whilst the second would earlier prefer face-to-face or phone calls. These findings seem to support the eminence between high and low-context cultures established by Hall (1981). dissolvent A valuable strategy to deal with communication challenges can be achieved by understanding and identifying eve ryones strengths and backgrounds. By recognising different levels of expertise, skills and experience among team members, virtual team leaders can distribute the workload accordingly. Lipnack and Stamps (1999), posit triad basic steps to overcome obstacles to communication listening skills, respect and patience. engineering science ISSUE The available technology is another critical factor for virtual teams. It is necessary that an equal admission charge to technology can be guaranteed to all team members, otherwise productivity can be compromised (Kuruppuarachchi, 2009). Broadband serve are not available in every location and some regions whitethorn experience slower internet speed than others or may nominate incompatible networks SOLUTION Ardichvili et al. (2006) posit that the start of the project is all-important(a) and moreover team leaders must choose the most appropriate computer-mediated technology that best suits the needs of team members.One that can be readily available to all subroutiners and therefore potential problems in the use of technology must be identified before the virtual project takes place. CULTURE ISSUE Individualism-collectivism is one of the biggest dimensions of cultural variability.The findings by Gudykunst (1997) and Hofstede (1980) suggest that team members from collectivist cultures are less ready to trust others than those from individualistic cultures. grub et al. (2000) established that individualistic and collectivist cultures make a sharp speciality between in-group and out-group members, with regards to knowledge sharing. For showcase, Chinese managers are found to be more reluctant in sharing knowledge with an out-group member when compared to Americans. SOLUTION With regards to culture, umteen scholars agree that cultural awareness is the most effective solution to minify the negative effects of cross-cultural differences (Mead and Andrews, 2009). Ardichvili et al. (200 6) emphasise that lead must hurry an environment of cultural adaptation in order to create a unique competitive advantage. Therefore it is essential that managers have the ability to direct culturally-determined conducts and different expectations into rich outputs. SYNERGY ISSUE To communicate across cultures it is essential that managers can foster an environment of trust and understanding. Several factors, such as repeated interactions, shared experiences and shared social norms, have been found to facilitate the development of trust (Mayer et al. 1995). Many scholars as well as argue that face-to-face encounters are irreplaceable when it comes to building trust (Ardichvili et al. , 2006). SOLUTION Following Ardichvili et al. (2006) findings, it appears essential that virtual team leaders make somebodyal meetings possible, because face-to-face encounters are one of the most critical factors for trust building, particularly at the ascendent of the teams exis tence. This has been found to be essential in many cases of virtual teams, like Ericsson in China ( lee-Kelley and Sankey, 2008) and the virtual project of the New mho Wales police in Australia (Peters and Manz, 2007). Nevertheless, in the virtual project setting, this synergy may be difficult to maintain and it is therefore important that virtual organisations carry on activities that indirectly create trust, such as group and individual feedback (Walker et al. , 2002 cited in Ardichvili et al. 2006). TIME ZONE DIFFERENCES ISSUE The problem of working in deep geographical locations arises for example when certain activities need to be synchronized or when real time communication is critical for the project.Due to time zone differences, users may not be able to ex qualify information instantly. For example, the US company BakBone software, faced some challenges in the coordination of its Israeli and US teams, because they have a 7 hour time difference between th em (Alexander, 2000). SOLUTION Precise coordination processes can help conquer time-related challenges and help increase production outcomes. Planning of schedules and tasks appears to reduce repetition in discussion (Lee-Kelley and Sankey, 2008).This planning should also be organic, particularly if disruption of planned activities takes place. Additionally, virtual team leaders must suss out that all team members are aware of time-zone differences so that they can plan ahead the best time for communication. Microsoft for example, has overcome some of these issues by using a 24 hour service in some of their virtual teams (Alexander, 2000). Ethical implications Lee (2009) describes e-ethics as the good leadership that is required in the virtual project setting. The need to address ethical issues in virtual teams has increased over the years and appears to be more important in the international business environment. The literature over this subject appears to agree that there is a clear straightforwardion between the issues increase within this young virtual design when compared to more traditional organisations (Lee, 2009).Therefore, base on the problems and solutions identified before, for the multicultural management in the virtual project setting, I will now attempt to review the ethical implications of such issues. Based on the work developed by Lee (2009) I agree that ethic leadership is ultimately the responsibility of the project manager (p. 457). It is up to the leader to ensure that an ethical environment can be followed by the users at all times, and moreover that environment must be encouraged in the organisational design of the virtual project setting.Cranford (1996) highlights that the use of computers that are in different geographic locations can affect the communicative behaviour of the users involved. For instance, the absence of face-to-face interactions can encourage a more aggressive and disrespectful behaviour. Therefore it is up to the project leader to control this environment, and reminder any unethical behaviour as it can have a negative effect on trust and synergy among team members.Moreover, Lee (2009) agrees that it is essential that a code of ethics is available to all users, so that they understand what is acceptable or not in the virtual environment. other issue identified in the literature regards the potential for social closing off in the virtual community (Lee, 2009), which in turn can affect motivation and commitment to the project. It is up to the project leader to ensure that all users are participative lavish and avoid potential morale problems due to the inadequacy of interaction.The latter has been found to be more noticeable in the virtual environment than in traditional organisations (Lee, 2009). There are a number of other ethical issues in the virtual environment, but the ones identified higher up appear to be those that are directly linked with working in cross-cultura l virtual teams that lack face-to-face interaction. It is essential that leaders can effectively manage the unique ethical issues that arise in the virtual setting in turn this will increase job satisfaction, efficacy and ultimately improve the service value. Case study BankCo Inc. as a result of a fusion of many multinational companies, as an attempt to create a global brand, with similar corporate identity and global standards. The virtual team members are based in many different countries and come from well distinct cultures, for example Greece, UK, Germany and capital of Singapore. It has been suggested that any poor writ of execution or project delays were not related to the virtual team itself, but moreover were a result of cultural differences and communication problems (Lee-Kelley and Sankey, 2008). For example, some groups contracted the unreasonable number of conference calls to be unproductive and time-consuming.The critical issues Communication With regards to commun ication, the authors blockage out that the excessive number of emails, over a 100 per person per day, was seen as negative by many of the users, particularly in the Greek and UK teams problems (Lee-Kelley and Sankey, 2008). It is suggested that this could be the result of a low-trust culture, where colleagues feel they have to preserve email communication if a dispute takes place, for example. The excessive number of emails also meant that they could not be fully tracked or nonetheless read sometimes.The company employ video-conference as a replacement for face-to-face interaction, however staff felt that many of these conference calls were very long and unnecessary (over 8 hours in some cases). As suggested in the literature, the business language used can be a challenge for non native speakers, however this was not the case for the team in Singapore, due to their superior command of the English language. In the case of BankCo Inc. this was actually more problematic amongst Ge rmany, Spain and Italy when they had to communicate in English. besides, despite the business language being English, BankCo Inc. as flexible enough to allow certain groups to discuss problems in their native language when interacting with each other, for example, in Singapore, this allowed easier explanation of concepts. Technology With regards to Technology, there were a number of tools available for communication. However, there were cases reported where users were not familiar with them. For example, with the tool Test film director, created to identify and raise problems, many users were duplicating work, by using emails as a secondary flair of raising these problems.The article by Lee-Kelley and Sankey (2008) emphasises that the challenges of technology could be resolved if managers addressed the training needs of the users involved, in a delegacy to improve communication. Synergy among team members In the early stages of the project, it was reported that there was lack of clarity in responsibilities and roles, and therefore people were passing on the problems to others. Also, the authors pointed out that there was no obvious global project leader, which could have been seen by the users as lack of leadership and direction.The scholars highlight that cultural and profane issues affected the building of trust. For example the UK and Greek teams showed some frustration by the eastern hemisphere tendency to avoid answering a question fully. They also felt they could not rely on their Eastern counterparts to fare tasks, even if they were committed to do so. Senior management acknowledged the problem, and highlighted the need for more interaction and understanding. As a consequence, some positive steps were taken, for example by implementing more face-to-face meetings.Culture The authors pointed out that there was a difference in the work ethics between the West and the East, for example despite those in the West work very hard, the colleagues in the E ast worked longer and socially unaccepted hours. Another issue pointed out was the way that members in the team in Singapore would accept all change requests from senior management, even though they did not have the time to complete those tasks. They justified it as being part of their culture to not retract or disappoint any requests from someone higher in the hierarchy.However, the Hesperian counterparts perceived this as inefficient and pointed out that these guys are lying perpetually (Lee-Kelley and Sankey, 2008, p. 60). Time zone differences With regards to this issue there were two different sides some of the virtual team groups were working long hours, for example in Singapore to allow flexibility and problems to be picked up, even out of routine hours. On the other hand, the West assumed that they could then communicate with the East whenever they treasured to, and some problems arose when staff in Singapore was dealing with queries way away midnight.Conclusion By exam ining the critical issues regarding global virtual teams, this project offers significant insight to broaden our academic understanding of culturally and geographically far-flung virtual teams. An emergent perception that arises from this discussion is that the virtual project working has a set of unique characteristics that in turn create new challenges for international management. The findings in the case of BankCo Inc. also suggest that a potpourri of issues affect cross-cultural virtual teams, but on closer inspection, only cultural differences impacting on conflict and team elations, and time zones differences affecting coordination and communication, may be directly related with the temporal and geographical distance features of virtual teams. Lee-Kelley and Sankey (2008) highlight that the remaining factors, such as trust, technology, and communication are not unique to virtual teams, and can also be found in more conventional organisations. That being said, their presence should not be undermined, as it adds to the challenge found in the virtual project setting. For instance, communication as a traditional team issue can be hypertrophied by cultural diversity and distance.Based on this discussion, I would consider the following as a set of best practices for the effective management of cross-cultural virtual teams EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION ? Leaders must ensure that a functional language is adopted in the virtual project setting, one that fits the level of diversity of the virtual team. ? The organisation must stick out guidelines for communication and adequate training with the relevant communication tools. ? Equal access to information must be assured for all members of one team. ? secernate that technology is an enablerSYNERGY ? promote face-to-face encounters where possible, particularly at the beginning of the team existence. ? Good definition of roles. Leaders must clarify what is evaluate and what are the responsibilities of all team membe rs and also ensure that members in one team are aware of each others responsibilities. ? square up clear, measurable and achievable goals ? Provide constructive feedback VIRTUALLY MINIMIZE TIME-ZONE DIFFERENCES ? Encourage the planning of schedules and tasks. ? Consider the possibility of 24h services. Ensure that all team members are aware of time-zone differences amongst fellow colleagues CULTURAL AWARENESS ? Understand the different backgrounds and distinct cultures of all team members. ? Leaders must be able to look to potential areas of conflict due to cultural differences and prevent them from happening. ? Foster one organisational culture that promotes listening skills, respect and patience among culturally diverse workers. ? protect diversity The future This project identified key areas for cross-cultural management and it represents a step towards more research regarding global virtual teams.Also it provides a more profound understanding of the managerial implications in the virtual project setting. One can argue that the use of virtual teams bear to a borderless world, however a new set of borders appears to emerge from this particular environment. One that is well distinct from other, more conventional multinational corporations. This project demonstrated that the durability and future of the virtual project setting relies severely on both the organisational capabilities and the individuals, and moreover that organisations cannot depend solely on their members to key out the organisational goals.Future research is encouraged to address the unique challenges of such organisational design, and strain the effective leadership styles when face-to-face contact is hardly present. References ? Alexander, S. (2000) Virtual Teams firing Global, InfoWorld, 22(46) 55-56. ? Ardichvili, A. , Maurer, M. , Li, W. , Wentling, T. & Stuedemann, R. (2006) Cultural influences on knowledge sharing through online communities of practice, diary of Knowledge cent ering, 10 (1), pp. 94107 ? Cranford M. (1996) The social trajectory of virtual reality substantive ethics in a world without constraints.Technol Soc 18(1)7992. ? Jarvenpaa, S, & Leidner, D (1999), Communication and Trust in Global Virtual Teams, Organization Science, 10, 6, pp. 791-815, ? Kuruppuarachchi, PR (2009), Virtual team concepts in projects A case study, Project Management Journal, 40, 2, pp. 19-33 ? Lee, M. R. (2009) E-ethical leadership for virtual project teams, International Journal of Project Management, 27 (5), pp. 456-463 ? Lee-Kelley, L, & Sankey, T (2008), Global virtual teams for value creation and project success A case study, International Journal Of Project Management, 26, 1, pp. 1-62 ? Mead, R. & Andrews, T. G. (2009) International management. quaternary ed. Chichester, England John Wiley & Sons. ? Peters, L. M. , & Manz, C. C. (2007). Identifying antecedents of virtual team collaboration. Team Performance Management, 13(3/4), 117129. ? Rorive, B. et Xhauflair , V. ,(2004),What binds together virtual teams? Some answers from three case studies, in Reddy, S. (Ed. ), Virtual teams concepts and applications, India, ICFAI University Press, pp. 132-140. ? Symons, J. & Stenzel, C. 2007) about borderless an examination of culture in virtual teaming, Journal of General Management, 32 (3), pp. 1-17 ? Hall, E. T. (1981), Beyond Culture, NY Anchor Press/Doubleday. ? Lipnack, J. and Stamps, J. (1999), Virtual Teams, Executive Excellence, Vol. 16, No. 5, pp. 14-15. ? Grosse, C (2002), Managing Communication within Virtual Intercultural Teams, Business Communication Quarterly, 65, 4, pp. 22-38 ? Mayer, R. C, Davis J. H. , Schoorman F. D. (1995). An integrative feign of organization trust. Acad. Management Rev. 20 (3), pp. 709- 734 ? Hofstede G. 1980), Cultures Consequence International Dierences in Work-related Values, Beverly Hills keen-sighted Publications. ? Gudykunst, W. B. 1997. Cultural variability in communication. Comm. Res. 24 (4) 327-348. OPENING CASE BANKCO INC. BankCo Inc. is a large consumer bank that is truly global, with branches in more than 100 countries (Lee-Kelley and Sankey, 2008). By being present in distinct geographic areas (Africa, Europe and heart East), this is a great example of a virtual organisation that faced unique challenges and more important, it includes all of the critical issues identified above.Team dealings and communication were affected by both time zone and more important, cultural differences. Also, I will use this case study as a reference for establishing a set of best practices for management in the virtual project setting for two reasons 1. It incorporates cross-cultural management of geographically and culturally distant units. 2. The company achieved an outstanding level of success in terms of budget, time and value delivery.