Effective Learning Through Optimum Distance Among Team Members

Effective Learning Through Optimum Distance Among Team Members

Bishwajit Choudhary (Information Resources Management Association, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-026-4.ch201
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For several years, researchers have argued that too much closeness or distance among the team members inhibits intellectual debate and lowers the quality of decision-making. In fact it is often said that if two people always agree, then one is useless and if they always disagree, then both are useless. While too much “closeness” leads to copycat attitude, too much “distance” among the team members results in incompatibility. Creating teams in which the members experience “optimum distance” is not easy. In this backdrop, we have identified certain gaps in the contemporary organizational learning theories and developed conceptual constructs and conditions that are likely to cause optimum distance in teams.
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Organizational Best Practices

There are six best practices that organizations that employ virtual teams should follow. Table 1 contains a list of these practices, each of which is explained next.

Table 1.
Organizational best practices for effective virtual teams
• Carefully select team members for diversity
• Supply the team with sufficient resources, support, and information technology tools
• Develop human resource policies that reward team efforts and stimulate virtual team performance
• Provide the team with an appropriate level of autonomy
• Use standard processes and procedures
• Develop an organizational culture that stimulates the sharing of information

Carefully Select Team Members for Diversity

The distributed nature of virtual teams allows a diversity of backgrounds, experiences, ideas, thoughts, abilities, and perspectives to be assembled within a single team. Organizations forming virtual teams should take advantage of this, selecting team members with diverse backgrounds and skills. The importance of team diversity was identified in both the case studies and the traditional team literature (e.g., Bettenhausen, 1991; Cohen, 1994). In particular, research has shown that diversity provides information-processing benefits to teams such that they are more effective at their tasks (Dahlin, Weingart, & Hinds, 2004). Working on a diverse team can also be more rewarding, interesting, and fun as team members get the opportunity to learn about new cultures and interact with people beyond their own work location.

Key Terms in this Chapter

This work was previously published in Encyclopedia of Information Science and Technology: edited by M. Khosrow-Pour, pp. 976-979, copyright 2005 by Information Science Reference, formerly known as Idea Group Reference (an imprint of IGI Global)

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