Bridging Diversity across Time and Space: The Case of Multidisciplinary Virtual Teams

Bridging Diversity across Time and Space: The Case of Multidisciplinary Virtual Teams

Violina Ratcheva (The University of Sheffield, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-955-7.ch011
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Abstract

The uniqueness of multidisciplinary teamwork is in its potential to integrate different bodies of knowledge into a new synergy. However, previous empirical studies have shown that member heterogeneity and geographic separation hinder effective sharing and use of team knowledge. The chapter explores how such teams interact to overcome the barriers and take advantage of their “built in” knowledge diversity. The findings indicate that often teams lack common background knowledge at the beginning of the projects, and in order to resolve differences members rely on their external intellectual and social communities. The reported research establishes a positive correlation between team members’ participation in multiple professional and social networks and teams’ abilities to successfully build on their knowledge diversity. The findings also suggest a need to reconceptualize the boundaries of multidisciplinary teams and to consider the processes of sharing diverse knowledge in a wider social context.

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