| 
  • If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • Stop wasting time looking for files and revisions. Connect your Gmail, DriveDropbox, and Slack accounts and in less than 2 minutes, Dokkio will automatically organize all your file attachments. Learn more and claim your free account.

View
 

Cross Cultural Collaboration

Page history last edited by Robert Ames 9 years, 10 months ago

(Fall 2010 - 11/14/10 - final revision)

 

Cross-Cultural Virtual Collaboration

 

 

Overview

 

What is cross-cultural virtual collaboration?  Cross-cultural virtual collaboration is the terminology used to describe a team that is made up of diverse members that work together through the use of technology.  Team members in this type of virtual collaboration will encounter differences in nationality, cultural backgrounds, language, geographical locations, time zones, religious and political beliefs, and ways of doing business; just to name a few.  A cross-cultural virtual team will encounter a significantly greater number of issues that stem from these, and other, cultural differences versus a virtual team that is less diverse in members and ways of doing business. Although cross-cultural virtual teams face many issues, there are many methods by which this type of collaborative work becomes increasingly beneficial to business today.

 

Chapter Goals

 

This chapter will discuss the existence of cross-cultural virtual collaboration and the importance of working with people and business from various cultural backgrounds.  The research of Geert Hofstede, Edward T. Hall, Shalom Schwartz, and Fons Trompenaars and Charles Hampden-Turner will also be discussed to show how their findings play a major role in cross-cultural collaboration.  Issues and benefits of cross-cultural virtual collaborations will also be addressed.  Methodological techniques, critical success factors, and industry best-practices will address various ways to decrease, and resolve, the number of cross-cultural issues that may arise in virtual collaborations.

 

Why Does Cross-Cultural Collaboration Exist?

 

Cross-cultural collaboration exists because of the global need to share knowledge, verbal and non-verbal discussions, and resources across working and industry partnerships.  This type of collaboration gives businesses the ability to support products and services domestically and internationally.  Cross-cultural collaboration fosters an environment of team interactions and feedback via technological communication and collaborative tools.  As a cross-cultural virtual team works towards understanding its diverse members, a sense of cultural appreciation will lead to better communication during brainstorming and therefore, better ideas. (Dr. Ter Bush, 2010)  Cross-cultural virtual teams will encounter differences that affect planning, designing, delivering, learning, and collaborative behaviors.  To create globally-distributed business partners, businesses may utilize collaboration tools and common processes to reduce cultural barriers including geography and time zones.  Evan Rosen said, “Without a culture of collaboration, the best processes, systems, tools, and leadership strategies fall flat.”

 

Another reason cross-cultural collaboration exists is to expand work environments in order to create a flexible environment for everyone involved; it allows for full participation because people can work from virtually anywhere, their home, office, etc.  The expanded or global workplace also benefits from the richness of the cultural and personal diversity of their workers. 

 

Additionally, cost savings initiatives are programs designed to cut organizational costs in order to maximize profit and shareholder value.  Some cost savings initiatives include organizational restructuring to centralize services spread throughout an organization, process automation, layoffs and workload redistribution, restructuring of spending controls, and a myriad of other programs a company may initiate to improve the bottom line. Virtual collaboration cuts cost from the perspective of, if employees work from home, then office space could be saved, along with the cost for utilities, etc. But, cost saving initiatives can come in other forms. For example, “Video conferencing solutions are either: expensive and good quality only in a LAN but not in WAN or cheap and unacceptably but low in quality. Broadband services may not be available everywhere and installing dedicated lines could increase the cost to the organization and therefore offsetting any cost savings from telecommuting or reduced travel.”

 

Cross-Cultural Virtual Collaboration Issues

 

As stated in the “Why Does Cross-Cultural Collaboration Exists” section, working with people from other cultures bring an abundance of rewards/benefits and opportunities; however benefits aren’t the only product of such collaboration, as there are many challenges.  Locally, (face to face) cross-cultural collaborations present certain challenges; challenges such as expectations, values and language. As big as these challenges might be locally, they are magnified in virtual cross-cultural collaboration environments.  For example, Stahl, Maznevski, Voight and Jonsen through their research found that in cross-cultural teams “Cultural diversity leads to process losses through task conflict and decreased social integration.” (Stahl, Maznevski, Voigt, & Jonsen, 2010). However, they also noted that cultural diversity leads to “process gains through increased creativity and satisfaction.”

 

With this in mind, it is critical to understand what causes problems in cross-cultural teams. The main points of conflict, according to Adams and Sockalingam, are not the most apparent differences, such as food, lifestyle or even language. The source that can cause the greatest harm to cross-cultural teams is a disparity of values, expectations and communication styles. (Adams & Sockalingam, 1999). 

 

These issues are even more difficult to recognize without actively looking for them, as cultural competence is considered a skill that requires effort to learn. “Cultural competence comprises four components: (a) Awareness of one's own cultural worldview, (b) Attitude towards cultural differences, (c) Knowledge of different cultural practices and worldviews, and (d) cross-cultural skills. Developing cultural competence results in an ability to understand, communicate with, and effectively interact with people across cultures.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_competence) It is for this reason that cross-cultural training (CCT) is key. As Brandl and Neyer discovered, “the type of CCT received can influence cognitive adjustment in global virtual teams.” (Neyer & Brandl, 2009). Cultural differences are also found within the same country.  A study funded by the U.S. Office of Minority Affairs found that minority communities within the U.S. “understand that great differences separate them from the Anglo American mainstream cultures. In contrast, Anglo American communities do not have much awareness of the magnitude of differences.” (Adams & Sockalingam, 1999)  In summary, studies have shown that people have their own unique cultural background that influences how they do things (like in business) and expect things to be done, which can potentially cause issues with people from different cultures. Each culture is normal to ‘some’ people, but weird/abnormal to people from different ‘cultures’.  So, it is extremely important for people to acknowledge and recognize their ‘culture’ and other cultures in order to learn how to manage and narrow culture gaps. The following sections will explain some of the cultural differences and how these differences can cause issues.

 

Cultural & Intercultural Differences

 

Cultural Dimensions

 

Several studies have been performed to analyze cultures in which a variety of models have been developed in order to help understand differences between cultures and intercultural relationships.  Edward Hall, Geert Hofstede, Shalom Schwartz, and Fons Trompenaars and Charles Hampden-Turner have all done research on cultural dimensions.   The various models which were developed help in understanding cultural differences and then can be accounted for when building or working with cross-cultural virtual teams.  Having an understanding of these models can also help reduce the level of conflict and frustrations within teams.

 

Hall

 

Anthropologist Edward Hall (1966) conducted a cultural study and developed a model based on three dimensions; high vs. low context, mono-chronic vs. poly-chronic time, and high vs. low territoriality.

In a high context culture, people assume they have a great deal of common understanding.  In a low context culture, people tend to have little shared experience.  Table 1 is a comparison of various factors between high and low context cultures (ChangingMinds.org, n.d.). 

 

Table 1

 

For the second dimension, monochronic time focuses on people do one thing at a time, using linear processing and depending on a schedule.  Polychronic time focuses on multitasking in which time is fluid and deadlines are less important than relationships.  Table 2 is a comparison of various factors between monochronic and polychronic actions in cultures (ChangingMinds.org, n.d.).

 

Table 2

 

Lastly, with the third dimension of territoriality, people of cultures with high territoriality want physical boundaries and need their own space with a distinction between intimate space, personal space, social space and public space.  Low territoriality cultures are more relaxed about boundaries and space.

 

Hofstede

 

Geert Hofstede, a Dutch social psychologist and professor, conducted a pioneering study of cultures across nations.  From 1967 to 1973 while working at IBM, Hofstede analyzed employee data from more than 70 countries.  Although the data maybe dated, there have been subsequent studies that validate these earlier results.  Based on the data gathered, Hofstede developed a model that identifies five dimensions to assist in differentiating cultures.  The five dimensions include the Power Distance Index (PDI), Individualism (IDV), Masculinity (MAS), Uncertainty Avoidance (UAI), and Long-Term Orientation (LTO) (Hofstede, n.d.). 

 

  • Power Distance Index - the measure of the extent of which the less powerful members accept and expect power to be distributed unequally. 
  • Individualism – the measure of the level of group integration.  Cultures having high individualism have the ability to work without extensively relying on other people and are interested in individual rewards.  Cultures with low individualism lean more towards group collaboration and group rewards.
  • Masculinity - evaluates the male and female values and the distribution of those roles.  A high masculinity value favors the male values of assertiveness and competitiveness.  On the other hand, a low masculinity value favors the female values of modesty and caring.
  • Uncertainty Avoidance - the degree to which cultures accept uncertainty and ambiguity or differing values.  High uncertainty cultures are very structured and less tolerant to change.  Low uncertainty cultures tend to be more tolerant to change and new challenges.
  • Long-Term Orientation - measured based on virtues regardless of truth.  High values for long-term orientation are associated with thrift and perseverance.  Low values are associated with the importance of respect for tradition, fulfilling obligations, and one’s reputation or saving “face.”

 

The following graphs were generated from Hofstede’s website (www.geert-hofstede.com) and show each of the dimensions for the United States and China respectively.  This allows for analyzing a particular country’s culture and the ability to compare countries.

 

 

The United States has a low PDI so less powerful members expect power to be distributed more equally.   China on the other hand has a high PDI so the Chinese expect the power to be unequal.  The US is also very individualistic and into individual rewards, whereas China has a more collective culture for groups and group rewards.  The MAS score is relatively close for both countries and value the masculine values more than the female values.  The UAI is under 50 for each so both US and China tends to be more tolerant to change, with China being more tolerant than the US.  Finally the LTO is extremely high for China as compared to the US which means their culture values thrift and perseverance and long-term outcomes.

 

Schwartz

 

Another study was performed by Shalom Schwartz (1992, 1994) which analyzed individual and cultural values. Using his “SVI” (Schwartz Value Inventory), Schwartz asked respondents to assess 57 values as to how important they felt these values are as “guiding principles of one’s life”.

 

Schwartz collected data in 63 countries, with more than 60,000 participants.  From the results, Schwartz derived 10 distinct value types; Universalism, Benevolence, Tradition, Conformity, Security, Power, Achievement, Hedonism, Stimulation, and Self-Direction.   As seen in Figure 3 (Christiansen & Hansen, 2001), these value types can be represented in pie-chart form in order to see relationships between the value types.  Individual value types can also be grouped into four higher level value principles of Self-Transcendence, Conservation, Self-Enhancement, and Openness to Change.

 

Values play a guiding part in individual decision-making which may lead to conflicts with other values when trying to reach goals.  Figure 3 illustrates adjacent value types are most compatible (ex: Achievement and Power).  The further the distance between the values, the less compatible the values become (ex: Achievement and Conformity).   Values that are directly across from each other have the greatest conflict.  For example, personal success (Achievement) is a contradiction to promoting the welfare of others (Benevolence), although both values can be realized. 

 

 

 

Self-Transcendence

 

  • Universalism - preference for social justice and tolerance.
  • Benevolence - values promoting the welfare of others.

 

Conservation

 

  • Tradition - values representing a respect for traditions and customs.
  • Conformity - represents obedience.
  • Security - values relating to the safety, harmony and welfare of society and of one self.

 

Self-Enhancement

 

  • Power - values social status and prestige or control and dominance over people and resources.
  • Achievement - high priority given to personal success and admiration.

  

Openness to Change

 

  • Hedonism - preference is given to pleasure and self-gratification.
  • Stimulation - express a preference for an exciting life.
  • Self-Direction - value independence, creativity and freedom.

 

Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner

 

Fons Trompenaars and Charles Hampden-Turner (1993; 1998) conducted a study of business executive’s behavior and value patterns, and analyzed how groups of people solve problems and reconcile dilemmas.  Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner identified seven value orientations (Himachali, n.d.).   

 

Universalism vs. Particularism

 

Universalistic cultures believe the way they do business and manage people is the universal way and all countries should follow suit.  In Particularistic cultures, they look at the peculiarity and distinctiveness between cultures.  Particularistic cultures also value long-term relationships and the unique circumstances within those relationships.

 

Individualism vs. Collectivism

 

Individualism has an emphasis on self-interest and individual rights.  Individualism orientation lets each person grow or fail on their own terms and also looks at group interests as depriving an individual of their rights.  On the other hand, collectivism emphasizes group interests like family, company and country, before individual rights.  Collectivism orientation views individualism as narcissistic and impractical.

 

Neutral vs. Emotional Temperament

 

People in neutral cultures tend to control their emotions and composure.  Emotional cultures are more open with their emotions and feelings.  Conflicts can arise in interactions between these two cultures due to neutral cultures viewing emotional cultures as immature and emotional cultures viewing neutral cultures as insincere.

 

Specificity vs. Diffusion

 

Specific cultures have clearly defined public and private spaces.  Their public spaces are larger in comparison to their private spaces and will let people into their public spaces but with limited personal commitment.  Diffuse cultures do not have a clear distinction between public and private spaces.  Public relationships, like business relationships, and private relationships typically overlap each other.

 

Achievement vs. Ascription

 

Achievement cultures value individual competency and individual achievement.  In ascription cultures, individual achievement and qualifications are less important than the person’s status based on title, position, family background, and the like. 

 

Clock vs. Cyclical Time

 

A culture having clock time means people use time linearly, where punctuality and schedules are very important.  There is also a clear distinction between work-life and personal-life.  Following cyclical time means people are more flexible with time and engage in multitasking.  Cyclical time does not have a clear division of work and family but relationships are more important than keeping a schedule.

 

Inner vs. Outer Direction

 

Inner-directed cultures think that the person’s ability to think is the most powerful tool as well as having ideas and intuitive approaches.  This type of culture also believes personal actions and ideas can improve their own future personal situation.  Outer-directed cultures are data-oriented and believe in existing information and decisions.  They do not believe individual actions and ideas will change the future.

 

High/Low Context Issues

 

In 1976, Hall wrote a book called “Beyond Culture” which made the terms High-Context and Low-Context cultures famous. As we saw in an earlier table, high-context and low-context cultures refer to how much a speaker relies on things other than words to communicate. In essence, everyone uses both types of communication, but based on culture and relationships, people tend to use, rely and focus more on one form of communication (High or Low-Context) versus the other.

 

When people from different context cultures collaborate, there are often difficulties that occur during the exchange of information. For example, employees from a high-context culture like China might only share very specific and extensive information with their “close knit, long term relationships" (good friends, families, close coworkers, etc). Yet, a low-context culture like the United States might limit communication to a smaller, select group of people and share only necessary information.   It’s very important that an individual is aware of the type of situation they are in, mainly so that when trying to communicate with a different culture, awareness will enable people to adapt and learn how to communicate in such culture.  With this in mind, another major hurdle to successful cross-culture collaboration stems from communication problems. Communication is especially crucial in business, as it’s extremely important to know what to say, when to say it and how to say it. 

 

Communication Style

 

In cross-cultural virtual collaboration, communication problems can arise from type of language, use of language, and communication tools.

 

Type of Language

 

What one culture considers a positive communication style can sometimes be considered a poor communication style in a different culture.  A person’s approach to communication (i.e. aggressive, passive, explicit, implicit, loud or silent) can sometimes be considered a personality defect, if it’s different from what’s typical in your own culture.  When people do not understand the approach or the underlying reason for the approach (i.e. cultural), instead of people thinking, ‘that’s the way language is used in that particular country’ people will associate language style with negative characteristics such as rudeness or evasiveness.  

 

Use of language

 

Non-native speakers are at a huge disadvantage in all international communication scenarios, because even if they are “good” in a second language, they are rarely as fluent as they are in their native language, or as fluent as native speakers.  This can lead to a few issues; for example, non-native speakers sometimes may be unable to express themselves as intended. Another issue encountered is that  words might be misused and given the wrong emphasis, or the sentence structure might be incorrect, and as a result statements can come across as being rude.

 

Furthermore, non-native speakers may be more reluctant to express themselves freely due to shyness or lack of confidence in their English. Such reluctance could interfere with the ability of team members to offer their maximum contribution or to bring up issues and important points in a discussion or other collaborative scenarios. 

 

Another issue is that the ‘same’ language might be spoken differently in different regions of the world. For example, UK English differs significantly from US English, as well as Mexico Spanish from Spain Spanish. 

 

Communication Tools

 

In global/virtual project teams, some forms of communication naturally take precedence over others. For example, emails, conference calls and video conference calls are more much more prevalent than face-to-face communication.  Various communication mediums can be an integral and vital part of international communication, but need to be carefully managed in order to avoid issues common in non-face-to-face communication.  As described previously in High/Low Context Cultures, some cultures rely heavily on the use of body language and non-verbal cues. This is especially important to consider when deciding how to best communicate in a cross-cultural virtual collaboration team because a certain culture’s communication style may be inhibited (i.e. non-verbal cues).  So, it is important to select the best communication medium for each situation and the entire cross-cultural virtual collaboration team.

 

Behavioral Differences

 

In business, local face-to-face meetings are often seen as unproductive, confusing and/or a waste of time.  This is no different in cross-cultural virtual collaboration, however due to cultural differences, the planning and approach of such meetings is even more complex.  To better prepare for cross-cultural virtual collaboration meetings, behavioral differences should be taken into consideration.  Cultural behavioral differences can cause many misunderstandings, but this section will focus on how these differences can create issues in business meetings.  To explain these behavioral differences, below is a comparison amongst the US, Mexico, Spain and China.

 

US:  Meeting agendas and punctuality are important. Americans are known for being outspoken and good communicators.  They tend to debate issues directly and openly with quantitative and qualitative arguments, however such behavior could be seen in other cultures as too aggressive or rude.  Such debate can also be viewed by more harmony/quiet cultures as a breakdown in communication, and could potentially signal to such cultures to abandon the interaction.  However, in the US, debate is seen positively and as a sign of progress. Furthermore, when debating with the US, other cultures need to be prepared to counter ideas/proposals/issues with quantitative and qualitative counter-arguments. In the US, decision making is distributed amongst teams and organizations. Such a decision distribution might seem like there’s a lack of hierarchy within US organizations, however the boss is still the boss and is expected to make final decisions and is held accountable for those decisions.

 

Mexico:  Meeting punctuality is flexible and agendas are optional, and when agendas are produced, they are not strictly followed.  Meetings start and finish times are only estimates. Emotion is shown in business discussions; such behavior can appear heated to cultures that do not support showing of emotion during business situations. In Mexico though, showing emotion is seen as a positive, as it implies engagement.  Generally, in Mexico, personal relationships are at the heart of business decisions.  Unlike the US, key decision making is much more hierarchical and less distributed, as decisions are made by a small number of individuals at the top of the hierarchy. It’s important for other cultures, like the US to understand this, to ensure the right people (manager, or above) are in the right meetings when decision making is needed.

 

Spain:  Similar to Mexico, agendas are optional and not necessarily followed. Punctuality is important, but more important emphasis is put on relationship building, so if the relationship is strong, punctuality is not very important.  Spanish verbal communication can often be viewed from other cultures as over emotional, which could be a negative. Communication within a Spanish organization is very often limited and on a 'need to know' basis. This is not necessarily defined by rank or position, but more by who you know. In other words, dissemination of information flows by strength of personal relationships. Departments do not, necessarily, freely communicate across departmental lines, as any such communication is more likely to be at a more senior level.  Similar to Mexico, decision making also comes from the top, and unlike the US, meetings are more for distributing of information rather than for open debate or decision making.

 

China:  Punctuality is important. Meeting agendas are necessary but not followed; they serve more as a starting point and a “jump off” for other topics and agendas. Chinese are quiet and reserved communicators, and follow a Confucian philosophy that considers all relationships to be unequal. So, ethical behavior demands that these inequalities be respected. Thus, the older person should automatically receive respect from the younger, the senior from the subordinate, etc.  So, in business meetings, respect is necessary. It is also common to be involved in a series of meetings rather than one big meeting at which all major issues are disclosed and assessed. Much like Mexico, meetings are about building relationships and like Spain they are for exchanging information, rarely are decisions made within a meeting. Decisions are typically made elsewhere in consensus-style discussions, which involve all the relevant people.  Unless you speak Chinese, it can be difficult to do business in many parts of China without the aid of a translator. English language levels are low although there are fluent English speakers, but there aren’t many and levels fall off very quickly. With that in mind, there are constant dangers in terms of misunderstanding and mistranslation. One of the reasons that communication can be such a problem in China is that Chinese find it extremely difficult to say 'no'. Saying 'no' causes embarrassment (lose face) and it is therefore better to agree with things in a less than direct manner (like being silent). Thus, anything other than an actual 'yes' probably means 'no'.

 

Team Dynamics

 

In cross-cultural virtual collaboration, team chemistry issues can arise from the following:

 

  • Not understanding the aforementioned cultural, communication style and behavioral differences.
  • Not understanding protocols for workflow communication (i.e. who gets copied on written documents, who to contact for assistance), decision-making, leadership, and conflict resolution.
  • Size of a team can also be an issue.  If a team is too large, more coordination and lines of communication are needed, whether it is from the leader to members of the team or communication amongst the team itself. These issues are even more common amongst global teams, but the level of complexity increases due to one’s culturally biased expectations.
  •  

Basically, how a team operates, how a team ‘gels’, and what is expected of a team varies significantly from culture to culture. The following is a comparison of norms in team collaboration between the US, Mexico, Spain and China.

 

US:  In the US, teams are groups of individuals temporarily brought together to complete a given task or project. At the conclusion of the task/project, the team breaks up and rapidly moves on to the next task/project. Team breakups in the US are less traumatic than in other group-oriented cultures where identity is attached to the group. In the US, teams are transitory in nature.

 

Mexico:  Mexico on the other hand is a relationship driven culture; Mexicans will work extremely well in a team situation so long as the team members get along with one another. However, it may take a while for people to form these solid relationships if they are new to each other. In Mexico, relationship building can be a lengthy process and teams can take a while to bond. But once teams have bonded/gelled, they tend to leave the group intact and move them together on to the next project.

 

Spain:  The Spanish are individualistic, so they often find it difficult to be in a team role.   Teams, where they do exist, are more likely to consist of a group of individuals reporting to a strong leader and acting on his instructions. Communication between team members might even be through the boss to avoid confusion or duplication of activities, meaning inter-group communication can be limited.

 

China:  The Chinese are consensus-oriented, so as a result make good team members. The whole cultural emphasis is on group orientation (group being a general term for work team, or family, or some other group) with individual needs and desires being suppressed for the greater good of the whole group (or as Americans like to say “taking one for the team”). One of the downsides (from a Western perspective) of this strong group orientation is a perceived lack of individual initiative. It’s unusual for an individual to act on their own without involving other members of the group. Within their own culture, standing out from the crowd can be viewed as very negative.

 

Leadership & Management

 

Different countries tend to develop different approaches to management and corporate structure.  As mentioned earlier, some people are comfortable with the concept of hierarchy (i.e Spain and Mexico); others are not.  Some people see managers as mentors who are there to encourage and coach (i.e. US); others expect a more instructional approach from the boss (i.e Spain).  So when working in a cross-cultural team, there are issues that can arise if the management styles are different. For example, you might need to come to a consensus on how decisions will be made within the team.   Will the boss/team leader make the decisions and then issue instructions? Or, will there be a more consensus-style in which all group members are encouraged to participate in the process? What management style does the team feel comfortable with? Let’s take a look at a few of the differences in leadership and management style between the US, Mexico, Spain and China.

 

US:  American management style is often described as individualistic in approach, mainly because managers are accountable for the decisions made within their areas of responsibility. Although important decisions might be discussed in open forum, the ultimate responsibility for the consequences of the decision lies with the boss; where in support/backing will evaporate when things go wrong. The up side of this accountability is, of course, the ‘American dream’, where success brings rewards/opportunities.  Therefore, American managers are more likely to disregard the opinions of subordinates because at the end of the day, the reputation and job on the line is that of the manager.  Clear and precise instructions are not always provided to subordinates and subordinates have a longer leash on decision making. Subordinates do not typically answer well to authoritarian.

 

Mexico: Management style tends to be somewhat paternal and very similar to Spain’s management style. Good managers combine an authoritative approach with a concern for the well-being and dignity of the employee; they provide and expect loyalty in return.  For this loyalty, the boss will look after the interests of subordinates. The bonds are deep, manager-subordinate relationship is viewed as a beneficial two-way relationship, meaning they treat each other the same, with loyalty and respect. As a result, managers are authoritative but never authoritarian. It is important to show that you are in control but at the same time have a warm, human touch.  But much like Spain, instructions should be given clearly and precisely and subordinates will be expected to follow those instructions with little or no discussion.

 

Spain: The style of a manager is extremely important. In Spain, personal attributes are actually valued more than technical expertise. Managers tend to earn their respect from subordinates based on their personality. Key personal attributes often admired are honor, courage, seriousness, trustworthiness and the acceptance of being a leader. The boss in general is expected to be courageous, decisive and consultation is often perceived as weakness; 'doesn't he know the answer?‘ is the attitude subordinates might have. This doesn’t mean that the law is the law and that debate is forbidden, that’s not the case. Challenges, debates, and questioning are accepted as long as everybody is aware of who is ultimately in charge and who will make the final decision.   Furthermore, instructions tend to be specific and task-oriented with detailed explanations of how to achieve the end result.

 

China: Hierarchy and Confucian philosophy are at the cornerstone of all management philosophy.  Ideas such as empowerment and open access to all information are viewed by the Chinese as weird Western notions. Thus, in China, management style tends towards the directive, with the senior manager giving instructions to their direct reports who in turn passes instructions down the line. It is not expected that subordinates would question the decisions of superiors which would be considered showing disrespect and the direct result would be loss of prestige (face).  The manager should be seen as a type of father figure who expects and receives loyalty and obedience from colleagues. Same as Mexico, manager and subordinates have a beneficial two-way relationship.  Furthermore, senior managers will often have close relations to the Communist Party and many business decisions are likely to be scrutinized by the party which is often the unseen force behind many situations/decisions.

 

Cross-Cultural Virtual Collaboration Techniques

 

Build effective lines of communication

 

Communications are the lifeblood of any successful project. With global collaboration, project teams need to be much more integrated and communicate much more frequently than in traditional outsourcing. We found several practices that enhanced communications with global collaboration partners. Direct contact between project team members in different locations works better than having a single point of contact on each side. The latter approach is timeconsuming and results in miscommunication during information handoffs. Projects that chose a singlepointofcontact approach found that developers created an underground communication network providing direct team membertoteam member communication.

 

Communication norms should be explicitly established at the start of the project and should take into consideration the culture of both organizations

 

In some companies interaction is encouraged on an ad hoc basis as questions arise, while other companies prefer specific times allocated for collaboration; hours during which interruptions are acceptable as compared to other times that are dedicated to uninterrupted, headsdown work. The appropriate communications infrastructure and processes should support these norms. Email is the most common communication technology used in cultures which have office hours; instant messaging is the most common multisite communication technology in organizations with a “drop in” culture. This form of communication is seen as less intrusive and provides features of capturing information in text format which allows for easy retrieval and archiving.  Interestingly, phone calls, though used when needed, are usually not the preferred ad hoc communication mechanism due to time zone differences and sometimes language difficulties. Other methods which are used include the use of specialized ticketing software which tracks all collaboration. Apart from queuing and prioritizing work, ticketing software formalizes the transmission of information. Text based fields which are required allow for a standard amount and format of information transmission regarding an issue which assists in simplifying collaboration. (MacCormack, n.d.)

 

Complexity of Language Skills

 

Our findings show that the language capability is a rather complex issue with multiple perspectives instead of a simple issue of knowing vs. not knowing, or good vs. poor proficiency. First, there are discrepancies regarding the proficiency level of different linguistic skills. Meaning, when it comes to language proficiency, does it relate to aural, spoken or written language skills? Participants in a study of global teams stressed that among Chinese IT professionals in general, the reading capability is better than listening comprehension and the listening comprehension capability is better than speaking. Different cultures may internally represent the proficiency of a language in numerous forms as well. Thus, be mindful that various cultures will stress on different aspects of a language. While one culture stresses on excellent written skills, another might stress on speaking and accents. Therefore in globally distributed IT work, some communication technologies, such as email which is asynchronous and concerned with reading and writing capabilities, may be more preferred than other communication technologies, such as a teleconference which is synchronous and concerned with listening comprehension and speaking capabilities. Thus a proper analysis of the culture of the global team you are working with will assist in a better understanding of which solution should be implemented to promote successful collaboration.

 

The second perspective related to language capabilities is that the language barrier is more noticeable in confrontational situations than in daily work. The practitioners in a study felt that it was easier to handle routine, day-by-day work. However, in situations where conflicts are involved, the proficiency of language skills, especially the listening comprehension and speaking skills, becomes challenging. (Haiyan Huang)

 

Conflict Resolution

 

Different cultures approach conflict in sometimes very contrasting ways. Some cultures accept that conflict occurs and that when it does, it needs to be addressed in a direct and upfront manner. Other cultures, however, are uncomfortable with open disagreement and will do their best to avoid it in order to save face and not put people in uncomfortable positions. They may withdraw or withhold their opinion if someone strongly disagrees rather than confront another person.

 

It is important for a team to define the way it wishes to handle conflict and disagreement. However, even after a process has been defined for managing conflict, it is important to bear in mind that cultural values are difficult to change. People from cultures where agreement is more important will still not be totally comfortable dealing with conflict and confrontation. What is important is that all parties are aware of such differences and sensitive to ways of dealing with conflict.

 

Some changes to a leader’s perception on communication with globally diverse teams may result in tremendous gains for the whole team.  For example, if we only take the paradigm of language in context to cultural sensitivity, a leader should be mindful that members communicating in a foreign language may be more reluctant to express themselves freely. This might interfere with the ability of team members to offer their maximum contribution. Non-native speakers may not always be able to express themselves in the manner they intended. Words can be misused, given the wrong emphasis or statements can come across as rude. Also, their communication style may be inhibited when the meetings are conducted virtually.

 

Decision-making

 

Different cultures have different ways of making and expecting decisions to be made. Some cultures expect that unanimity is the only way to go, i.e. all team members should be approached for their points of view and have a rational debate to come to an agreement. Other cultures believe that the majority rules and debating is a waste of time.  There are also others who believe that decisions are made by the leader or the most experienced team members.

 

A global team has to agree on the way in which decisions will be made. When you consider the decision making process, it is not just the end result that you need to discuss. It is the process you undergo as you make the decision. For example:

 

  • Is it all right for juniors in a team to disagree with more senior people?
  • Are discussions limited or open-ended?
  • Is it typical for decisions to come about through a step-by-step process or is it more organic in nature?
  • Is consensus necessary or will majority-rule suffice?
  • How supportive are people expected to be to decisions in spite of their original objections?

 

Some things team leaders or team members can do to improve this are:

 

  • Provide additional opportunities for all team members to contribute more easily. For example, allow people a chance to write things down before a meeting or as part of a follow-up. Thus additional opportunities should be included in the communication norms discussed previously.
  • Keep language simple: avoid idioms, slang, irony, etc.
  • Non-verbal communication is important. Team members should be aware ways in which members may express negative responses or concepts. For example, silence may be one method that could be wrongly interpreted as agreement in other cultures. (Culture in Global Teams)

 

Extend development methodologies to include multisite and collaboration processes

 

Most system development methodologies assume that all work is being done in a singlesite. Global, collaborative, multisite development requires alternate processes, communications, and technologies. Considerable thought should be put into building collaboration and communication processes that span continents, time zones, and cultures. Business processes, development methodology, and company culture all need to be considered. Furthermore, integration processes must be carefully designed and tested. Decisions need to be made on how much variation is allowed in the same activities performed in different sites. Successful methodology extensions and improvements should be organized and shared across the company, especially with other global collaboration projects.

 

Our research also showed that complex knowledge management (KM) initiatives were not a factor in the success of a global team. The simple act of summarizing information was more than sufficient to establish a knowledge repository which was created as a result of their electronic communication. Others have found that, when provided with tools such as powerful navigation and search functionalities, virtual teams did not make use of them (Rosalie). This suggests that actively attending to the management of knowledge, perhaps by designating the role of knowledge manager within the team, may be a simple means of reaping the benefits of KM without increasing the complexities of the collaborative technology.  (MacCormack, n.d.)

 

Vision: Clarity of Team Objectives

 

Our research shows that team members must be clear about objectives and obtain feedback on the achievement of these objectives. After standardizing communication, providing a clear path of instructions or clear goals assists in the mitigation of risks involved when managing a virtually diverse team. Conflicting goals and lack of leadership will impede integrated work, because team members are likely to be distracted by conflict and unclear about objectives. Being mindful of your global team’s cultures will assist a manager in further clarifying goals if the need arises.

 

A supportive team climate leads to increased communication, as group members are more likely to risk proposing new ideas when they do not feel threatened. This amplified information sharing increases members’ knowledge bases due to the cross-fertilization of ideas from other team members, which heightens the likelihood of creative achievements (Rosalie).

 

Gender

 

Every culture or society has its own understanding of gender relations and acts according to them. What is acceptable in one culture may offend in the other. This may play a role on a team to some degree, especially when two ends of the spectrum are represented in a team.

 

The way men and women in a team interact, the way authority is allocated, assumed or perceived, and the way roles and responsibilities are distributed can all be impacted by different viewpoints on gender. As and where issues arrive, it is best to tackle the subject head on and agree that within the company or team there are specific protocols when it comes to gender interaction.

 

In conclusion, for cross-cultural teams to succeed, managers and team members need to be attuned to cultural differences. Companies must be supportive, proactive and innovative if they wish to reap the potential benefits such global teams can offer. This goes beyond financing and creating technological links to bring people together at surface level and going back to basics by fostering better interpersonal communication.

 

Cross-Cultural Virtual Collaboration Critical Success Factors

 

The term “critical success factor” is used to denote a specific condition that must be present to achieve a particular mission or objective.  The presence of a critical success factor, or multiple factors, ensures that a project has a higher probability of success.  According to Duarte and Snyder, authors of Mastering Virtual Teams: Strategies, Tools, and Techniques that Succeed, critical success factors do not have to be in place in order for virtual teams to begin collaborations and succeed.  Rather, a virtual team’s demands for certain conditions will help, over time, create specific critical success factors that make that particular team successful.  As members from various organizations, time zones, national cultures, languages, and corporate cultures join a virtual team, the complexity of that team increases drastically.  To arrive to a determination of which critical success factors will best work for that particular virtual team it takes both cooperation and input from team leaders and team members.  The most commonly cited critical success factors for cross-cultural virtual teams are: cultural research, communication technology, policies, standardized processes, organizational structures, training and education development, and leadership and support.  With such critical success factors in place it becomes less challenging to overcome the cross-cultural differences that affect virtual teams. 

 

Cultural Research 

 

“A language barrier between our group and the Mexican students proved quite challenging.  The Mexican students often could not interpret our emails accurately.  Even though the Mexican students provided excellent research material, we had to spend extra time editing and rewording material in order to make it presentable.” – The Global Virtual Manager (2000)

 

In today’s business world, working with people from other cultures is nearly unavoidable.  Most businesses today have one or more connections to other cultures.  There are various types of cross-cultural collaborations: between businesses in one country and another, between businesses in the same country and/or city, and between employees of the same business.  In the United States, for example, any given business is likely to have employees from several cultural backgrounds.  In this example, businesses must be aware of the needs and customs of these employees.  When working with individuals from a variety of cultural backgrounds or when working in foreign countries it is important to recognize the importance of culture as a strong driver of behavior.  (Beardsell, 21)  A business must allow for a certain degree of flexibility in their ways of doing business to accommodate to, and work through, cultural differences.  In the case of multiple businesses, whether they are located within the same city or country, or a business from a different country, cultural research on both ends brings awareness to any potential barriers.  Preparation for cross-cultural collaborations is vital.  Many multi-national companies see the importance of offering cultural training courses for employees who work overseas.  Additionally, a substantial amount of reading material can be found on cultural research and cultural diversity.  Thorough cultural research before collaboration negotiations begin ensures that an organization has a strong understanding of that particular culture’s behaviors, language, and most importantly their way doing business.  With this initial understanding, both cultures’ decision-makers are able to come to the negotiation table and have an open discussion on items they may be wary of.  These discussions can lead to further analysis and adaptation of additional critical success factors that deal directly with any existing cultural differences.  More importantly, these discussions will also lead towards a solid foundation of trust between the various cultures and groups involved.

 

Communication Technology

 

“When we began the project, our technical knowledge was limited.  When our team leader suggest [tool name] for ‘face-to-face’ meetings, we weren’t sure how to access this service.”          – The Global Virtual Manager (2000)

 

Of the critical success factors delineated in the chapter, consider communication technology as the “core” of the seven listed critical success factors.  A virtual team that does not have an effective communication tool will experience great difficulties.  In order to make any sort of project gains, a virtual team must choose a technology that will best allow for effective communication throughout the life of the project.  This becomes especially important when virtual team members from various cultural backgrounds meet “live” to discuss a project.  Although it is difficult to pinpoint all of the potential needs of a virtual team, an assessment of key needs will serve as a guide when researching technologies available.  And while no tool is 100% exempt from experiencing glitches, thorough research into communication technologies is key to the success of virtual teaming as it allows a leeway of time to test the tool.  By testing the tool, the virtual team can determine whether identified key needs can be successfully met.  It also gives team members time to gain working experience with the specific tool chosen, particularly if they have no prior experience with the tool.  This is known as the “usability factor”.  If virtual team members are unable to use the communication tool chosen for the project, then the value of the tool begins to decrease and the overall negative impact on the virtual collaboration begins to increase.  The chosen communication tool’s functionality should, for the most part, align with the execution of the identified key needs of the project.

 

Policies

 

“A recurring reason offered was individuals not taking responsibility and accountability, or ‘ownership’, to ensure the completion or proper ‘hand off’ of certain tasks.” – Strategies for Effectively Managing Geographically Dispersed Projects (1999)

 

Organization policies should be designed to recognize the importance of working virtually.  Policies must also be designed to recognize the value of each virtual member, both team leaders and team members.  By creating policies that support and reward virtual teaming, members are more likely to respond in a positive manner to the idea of working virtually, particularly when working on a cross-cultural virtual team.  Overall, policies that are designed to value and support virtual collaborations foster a sense of “belonging” and a sense of feeling valued.  This in turn increases the probabilities of a successful project.

 

Standardized Processes

 

“A recurring problem was lack of clear protocol.  Teams that lacked standards and protocols had to take time to create a common understanding, which then increased the pressure to complete tasks.” – Strategies for Effectively Managing Geographically Dispersed Projects (1999)

 

The initial development of standardized processes, or team charter, reduces a team’s project startup time.  The team charter also creates a common understanding for all virtual members involved.  Because of this common understanding, the probability of interventions and reinventions of protocol throughout the life of the project are significantly reduced.  However, standardized processes must have a certain measure of flexibility to allow for, and adapt to, cultural differences, changes in a project’s needs, and various other situations.  Common processes in a team charter usually include: defined project requirements, defined team leader and team member expectations, procurement protocol, communication protocol, documentation protocol, reporting protocol, and controlling protocol.  The common processes can then lead to more specific protocols based on a virtual team’s needs.

 

Organizational Structure

 

“In two teams, a project manager in one and a senior consultant in another, sustained conflict with other team members over approval procedures.  Lack of adequate training in leadership roles and responsibilities was a contributing barrier.” – Strategies for Effectively Managing Geographically Dispersed Projects (1999)

 

Defining roles of team leaders and team members in the first stage of a project provides a clear organizational structure that reduces tensions due to culture shock, power struggles, and role conflicts.  A poorly delineated organizational structure also fosters a sense of aimlessness amongst team members.  This can potentially lead to the failure of the project if not corrected in time.  A clear organizational structure, with defined roles, creates a heightened level of trust amongst a virtual team, particularly in cross-cultural collaborations.

 

Training and Education Development

 

“Money was spent on the technology-machines, applications, and compatibility – but not on teaching people how to effectively use them.” – Mastering Virtual Teams: Strategies, Tools, and Techniques that Succeed (2006)

 

Virtual teams that are not properly trained in a project or a chosen communication technology are potential contributing factors to a project’s failure.  Often times this occurs due to little importance placed on training and education, lack of funding and other resources, or lack of technical support.  The lack of resources and lack of importance can often be attributed back to a lack of stakeholder, organization, and management buy-in on a project.  Continual and updated training resources for team leaders and team members increases adaptability, if a project or cross-cultural differences call for it, and probabilities of success for a project.  Due to increased cross-cultural collaborations, more and more organizations are providing training and consulting support that enhances skills in cross-cultural interactions.

 

Leadership and Support

 

“The incompetence of our leader hindered our success.  She didn’t acknowledge our suggestions, she failed to give us direction, she never encouraged our group to explore other technologies, not once did she collaborate with the Mexicans in our group, and she gave unreasonable deadlines.” – The Global Virtual Manager (2000)

 

It is key that stakeholders and members in management and leadership positions buy-in to projects executed by virtual teams.  A lack of supportive behavior is detrimental to a project’s success.  The leadership culture must demonstrate that it values virtual teams, values virtual communication, values virtual collaboration training, and values diversity.  Effective leaders will demonstrate the behavior that they in turn expect from their team members.  An effective leader of a virtual team will also need to have an understanding of cultures and human dynamics.  Keeping a cultural understanding in mind, management can then articulate the benefits of virtual teams, including diversity in skills, diversity in knowledge, and diversity in ways of doing business.  It is also the responsibility of virtual team leaders and team members to suggest leadership behaviors and leadership support that enhance performance of virtual teams.

 

Cross-Cultural Virtual Collaboration Best-Practices

 

The previous section of this chapter, Cross-Cultural Virtual Collaboration Critical Success Factors, discusses the most commonly cited factors that should be present in virtual teams to increase the likelihood of a project’s success.  As cross-cultural virtual teams collaborate they are likely to run into barriers that, if not addressed properly and on-time, can prove to be detrimental to the outcome of the project.  It is these barriers and the ways in which they are overcome that provide the learning experiences of “what works and what doesn’t”.  This section will address some of the current best-practices.  As cross-cultural virtual teams decipher what works and what doesn’t for their particular needs, these best-practices will be improved upon and new practices may be implemented.   Other best-practices will become obsolete with the passage of time and project needs. 

 

Cultural Training and Education

 

As discussed in the cultural research critical success factor, it is vital that each of the parties involved in the cross-cultural virtual team do some sort of cultural research on their potential collaborators.  As more companies take on global partnerships, the need for cultural training has increased.  It is in the best interest of companies to have their virtual team members, particularly virtual team leaders, take part in cultural training sessions.  Cultural training equips virtual team leaders with key knowledge and skills that will assist them in solving cultural issues that may arise.  A company that endorses cultural training and education is aware of the value of cross-cultural collaborations and is determined to ensure the success of cross-cultural projects.  According to Dr. Alaa Zeitoun, author of Managing Projects across Multi-National Cultures, the Global Project Manager’s Checklist for Working across Cultures should be used by managers.  The following list includes items from the checklist that are most relevant to cross-cultural virtual collaborations. 

 

  • Make no assumptions.
  • Clearly identify the purpose.
  • Know the background and responsibilities of the people you’ll be meeting.
  • Understand the politics of the country and if politics is a proper topic of discussion.
  • Know the basic history and the main cities.
  • Understand the greeting habits.
  • Know what days of the week people work and the times of the day.
  • Understand the religious key practices.
  • Understand if there is more emphasis on groups rather than on the individual.
  • Understand the social classes that may be existing.
  • Understand if men and women are treated equally.
  • Find out what kind of humor is accepted.
  • Anticipate the possible miscommunication problems.

 

 

Creating a Common Culture

 

A cross-cultural virtual team will have a milieu of differences.  Some of these differences can become true obstacles that will hinder the performance of the cross-cultural virtual team.  These barriers can range anywhere from language, national culture, times zones, geography, work customs and infrastructure, class structures, laws and politics, gender stereotypes, and many, many more.  It is important that virtual team leaders receive proper cultural training that will help them develop cultural sensitivity skills.  Virtual team leaders must also possess strong leadership skills that will serve them in solving these cross-cultural issues without compromising the strategic goals of the virtual collaboration.  Once a cross-cultural virtual team has been established, a good virtual team leader will initiate the conversation of creating a common culture amongst the cross-cultural team members.  To create a common culture, the virtual team will begin by identifying and implementing critical success factors for their particular needs.  During this process, and perhaps during the life of the project, the virtual team will find the need to develop new critical success factors that will facilitate the execution of the project.  Some of these additional critical success factors may include the hiring of translators, continuous cultural training, and cultural awareness and trust exercises that foment cultural knowledge and acceptance.  The critical success factors of cross-cultural virtual teams are discussed in the previous section. 

 

Continuous Involvement

 

One of the key best-practices for any cross-cultural virtual team is continuous involvement.  Continuous involvement is the frequency by which virtual team leaders and virtual team members communicate and collaborate amongst each other, and execute tasks for the project at hand.  A virtual team that practices continuous involvement with greater frequency, functions at a higher rate of effectiveness.  When all virtual team members are continuously involved the overall positive impact on sense of “belonging”, accountability, project ownership, and trust is greatly increased.  “Our comparative data [reinforces] their finding that high-trust teams engage in frequent communication characterized by behaviors such as providing feedback, clarifying and developing a consensus on tasks.” (Cogburn, 46) However, continuous involvement is not only limited to virtual team leaders and team members.  Continuous involvement must also be practiced by organization leaders and management.  Active continuous involvement by those in leadership and management positions demonstrates the need for, and the value placed on, virtual teams.

 

Conclusion

 

Overcoming cultural obstacles can be one of the leading roadblocks to success for team projects. Whether you are working in a small team or large group setting, cross-cultural collaboration presents challenges. However, those challenges pale in comparison to overcoming cultural challenges in a virtual environment.

 

Currently, there are a variety of tools for virtual collaboration, ranging from GoTo Meeting to Wimba and Google Wave. Each of the technologies currently being used in today’s society offer solutions to a multitude of problems. However, cross-cultural virtual collaboration is far from perfected.

 

The main issue that has not been addressed in mainstream cross-cultural virtual collaboration technologies is crossing the language barrier.  Current technologies rely on the individual user’s knowledge of a secondary language to increase communication. For example, if your boss asks you to join a virtual meeting with members from your corporate headquarters in Japan, the user would have to speak Japanese, or the other counterpart would need to speak English to make the virtual meeting work effectively.

 

One tool that would improve cross-cultural virtual collaboration would be a language translation tool, capable of translating text in real time. However, in a survey distributed by the cross-cultural virtual collaboration group to seven working professionals, the most common issue with current cross-cultural virtual collaboration was regarding software not being “user-friendly” enough. (Appendix 1)

 

“You can make document sharing more user friendly so even beginners can figure out and contribute,” Survey Respondent #1.

 

Additionally, when asked the question “What do you think the future holds for Cross-Cultural Virtual Collaboration,” respondents nearly unanimously suggested that cross-cultural virtual collaboration would play an increasingly large part of society in years to come.

 

 “I am without a doubt convinced that it would catch on and become the next wave of communication,” Survey Respondent #6.

 

“With the huge flux of internet social networking tools, I think the future is bright. Visual net-conferencing may just become a norm since it can be done on an individual basis,” Survey Respondent #2.

 

“The rapid advancement of communications technology and associated decreased costs foretell a future where this type of interaction is destined to become commonplace,” Survey Respondent #4.

 

As with any evolving technology, improvements will be made over time. Just in the past five years, developers have made the largest strides in cross-cultural virtual collaboration since the concept was first originated. In the future, regardless of what specific changes need to be made, cross-cultural environments will continue to be improved until they are as close to working in person as possible.

 

Technological resources which enable cross-cultural collaboration will have to be further augmented with cross-cultural training. Employees will gain the knowledge and confidence of conducting successful collaboration through training. This training may further give businesses that are successful in such collaborations a competitive advantage. It should be stressed on employees that such training is essential to performing in a multicultural workplace. They should have a better understanding of the various cultures and be more accepting of differences which pose challenges in communication. Cultural competence will be further gained and understood by the culturally different stakeholders one might have to interact with. Even though deviations might occur within a culture, an approach which includes the basic understanding of ideas represented by Hofstede will provide a guide to enhance collaborative processes and methods. These concepts may also further assist an organization to choose technology which alleviates the major risks associated with the instance of the collaboration with a different culture. If proper analysis of the cultural differences of the people who are working together is done as part of the initial proposal or initiative, the evaluation of the collaboration as part of the post project processes or even a recurring process may bring about positive changes to initiatives in the future. Being able to analyze different trends and lessons learned of the applied collaboration techniques will improve the overall workings in next projects. If issues or suggestions are discussed, a further root cause analysis in context of cultural differences may bring about improvements to the underlying collaboration processes. Recurring lessons learned meetings enhance the likelihood that the lessons will be understood and implemented. Further understanding of the differences which exist in cultures will only assist and increase the success of cross-cultural collaboration. This in turn will mitigate risks and make projects as a whole, more successful.

 

Bibliography

 

Adams, R. J., & Sockalingam, S. (1999, September 31). Multicultural Toolkit (Toolkit for cross-cultural      collaboration). Retrieved July 7, 2010 from Awesome Library

     http://www.awesomelibrary.org/multiculturaltoolkit.html 

 

Anawati, D. &  Craig, A. "Behavioral Adaptation Within Cross-Cultural Virtual Teams." IEEE Transactions on      Professional Communication 49.1 (2006). 44-56. Ieeexplore.ieee.org. IEEE Professional Communication Society,      Feb. 2006. Web. 10 Oct. 2010.

 

Beardsell, J.  "Managing Culture as Critical Success Factor in Outsourcing."  SMC Working Paper Series.  SMC      University, Sept.  2009.  Web.  12 Oct. 2010.

 

ChangingMinds.org. (n.d.). Hall’s Cultural Factors.  Retrieved November 13, 2010 from

     http://changingminds.org/explanations/culture/hall_culture.htm

 

Christiansen, C. P. and Hansen, F. (2001). “THE USE OF SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGICAL AND APPLIED VALUE RESEARCH      FOR THE MEASUREMENT OF CULTURAL DIFFERENCES AMONG COMSUMERS.” Retrieved November 13, 2010      from http://www.acrwebsite.org/volumes/display.asp?id=11313     

 

Cogburn, D. L., & Levinson, N. S. (2003)."U.S.-Africa Virtual Collaboration in Globalization Studies: Success Factors      for Complex, Cross-National Learning Teams." International Studies Perspectivees 4, 34-51. Blackwell Publishing.      Web. 10 Oct. 2010.

 

Cusick, J. & Prasad, A. (2006). A Practical Management and Engineering Approach to Offshore Collaboration. IEEE      Softw. 23, 5, 20-29. DOI=10.1109/MS.2006.118 http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/MS.2006.118

 

Duarte, D. L. and Snyder, N. T. (2001). Mastering Virtual Teams: Strategies, Tools, and Techniques that Succeed.  San      Francisco: Jossey-Bass, Print.

 

Garrison, G., Wakefield, R.L., Xu, X., and Kim, S.H. (2010). Globally distributed teams: the effect of diversity on      trust, cohesion and individual performance. SIGMIS Database 41, 3, 27-48. DOI=10.1145/1851175.1851178

     http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1851175.1851178

 

Huang, H. & Trauth, E.M. (2007). Cultural influences and globally distributed information systems development:      experiences from Chinese IT professionals. In Proceedings of the 2007 ACM SIGMIS CPR conference on Computer      

      personnel research: The global information technology workforce (SIGMIS CPR '07). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 36-45.      DOI=10.1145/1235000.1235008 http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1235000.1235008

 

Himachali, S. (n.d.). Understanding Cultural Dynamics and Cross-Cultural Communication.  Retrieved November 13,      2010 from http://www.sanjeevhimachali.com/?p=4

 

Hofstede, G. (n.d.). Geert Hofstede™ Cultural Dimensions. Retrieved November 13, 2010 from

     http://www.geert-hofstede.com

 

Intercultural Research. (n.d.). Retrieved July 7, 2010 from chairt.com: http://www.chairt.com 

 

Issues in Cross Cultural Teams. (2009). Retrieved July 7, 2010 from Team Building:               http://www.teambuildingportal.com/articles/team-failure/cross-cultural-team 

 

Kayworth, Timothy, & Leidner, D. (2000)"The Global Virtual Manager: A Prescription for Success." European      Management Journal 18.2. 183-94. Print.

 

Kirkman, B.L., Rosen, B., Gibson, C. B., Tesluk, P. E., & McPherson, S. O. (2002). "Five Challenges to Virtual Team      Success: Lessons from Sabre, Inc." The Academy of Management Executive 16.3: 67-79. Www.jstor.org. Academy      of Management, Aug. 2002. Web. 10 Oct. 2010.

 

Kwintessential. (n.d.). Culture in Global Teams. Retrieved November 13, 2010 from

     http://www.kwintessential.co.uk/cultural-services/articles/culture-global-teams.html

 

MacCormack, A., Forbath, T., Brooks, P., & Kalaher, P.  From Outsourcing to Global Collaboration: New Ways to      Build Competitiveness Retrieved July 7, 2010 from http://www.hbs.edu/research/pdf/07-080.pdf

 

Neyer, A.-K., & Brandl, J. (2009). Applying Cognitive Adjustment Theory to Cross-Cultural Training for Global Virtual      Teams. Human Resource Management , 341–353.

 

Ocker, R.J. & Fjermestad, J. (2008). Communication differences in virtual design teams: findings from a

     multi-method analysis of high and low performing experimental teams. SIGMIS Database 39, 1, 51-67.      DOI=10.1145/1341971.1341977 http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1341971.1341977

 

Rosen, B., Furst, S., & Blackburn, R. (2006) "Training for Virtual Teams, an Investigation of Current Practices and      Future Needs." Human Resources Management 45.2: 229-47. Wiley InterScience. Web. 10 Oct. 2010.

 

“RW3 Survey Finds 40% of Virtual Teams Underperform”. (May 24th, 2010). RW3 LLC.  Retrieved October 6th,      2010 from http://rw-3.com/category/rw3news/

 

Stahl, G. K., Maznevski, M. L., Voigt, A., & Jonsen, K. (2010). Unraveling the effects of cultural diversity in teams: A      meta-analysis of research on multicultural work groups. Journal of International Business Studies , 690–709.

 

Sumner, M. & Molka-Danielsen, J. (2010). Global IT teams and project success. In Proceedings of the 2010 Special      Interest Group on Management Information System's 48th annual conference on Computer personnel research on      Computer personnel research (SIGMIS-CPR '10). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 34-42. DOI=10.1145/1796900.1796920

    http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1796900.1796920

 

Vinaja, R. (2003). Major Challenges in Multi-Cultural Virtual Teams. American Institute for Decision Sciences,      Southwest Region (pp. 341 - 346 ). San Antonio, Tex: American Institute for Decision Sciences. 

 

WorldBusinessCulture.com. (n.d.). Global Business Media.  Retrieved October 5th, 2010 from           http://www.worldbusinessculture.com

 

Zeitoun, A. A. “Managing Projects across Multi-National Cultures, A Unique Experience.” On Target: 9. Web. 10 Oct. 2010.

 

Appendix 1

 

Cross-Cultural Virtual Collaboration Survey

 

Q:         What is your definition of Cross-Cultural Virtual Collaboration? 

A: 

 

Q:         Have you ever found yourself working in a Cross-Cultural Virtual environment? 

A: 

 

Q:         What obstacles did you encounter? 

A: 

 

Q:         What tools or software did you use? 

A: 

 

Q:         Was it helpful? 

A: 

 

Q:         What changes would you make to improve that software?

A:  

 

Q:         What do you think the future holds for Cross-Culture Virtual Collaboration? 

A: 

Comments (7)

terbush@... said

at 4:21 pm on Jul 14, 2010

Where are the references?

jeneesaunders@... said

at 5:54 pm on Jul 13, 2010

Thank-you all for the comments. Updates will be coming soon with your help!!!:)

Joanne Merkle said

at 6:20 pm on Jul 11, 2010

I think there should be more emphasis on the challenges that cross cultural collaboration teams face. I'd also like to see more information on how to use the theories to manage a cross cultural virtual team.

William Douglas said

at 5:21 pm on Jul 11, 2010

I don't feel that a discussion on word origins provides a valuable overview of cross-cultural collaboration. I would say that cross-cultural collaboration is simply the art of overcoming barriers of differing backgrounds, customs, and possibly long distances to work together productively towards a common goal. Beyond that, I feel it should be assumed that the readers of this chapter know what both collaboration and cross-cultural mean.

Jerry said

at 6:27 pm on Jul 10, 2010

One thing that should probably be added to this is the language barrier, and any technologies that can help solve that. Additionally, sometimes there are communications problems when you speak the same language. Phrases commonly used in American English may not be used in India and vice-versa.

Teonna I. said

at 3:05 pm on Jul 10, 2010

I didn't know if I had to comment on this chapter but I'd rather be safe than sorry! I would like to see "Benefits of CCC" but the authors may already intend to explain this within the introduction. Possibly some success stories regarding the use of cross cultural collaboration. This is a good start though. It will be interesting to me to see what other suggestion will say.

terbush@... said

at 4:56 pm on Jul 2, 2010

Good start. I would like to see the theory earlier in the chapter, and the possibility of some exercises would be great. Less on the specific tools since there aren't any tools specific to the culture mitigation issue. Most tools are in fact created by western minds for western minds.

You don't have permission to comment on this page.