Developing Project Team Cohesiveness in a Virtual Environment

Developing Project Team Cohesiveness in a Virtual Environment

Lisa Toler (Ashford University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9688-4.ch009
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Abstract

As more projects require the specialized technical skills of those who work in virtual environments due to dispersed geographic locations, project managers of these distributed virtual teams (DVT) must gain insight into achieving project success amongst team members who hold varying operational and world perspectives. When organizational managers decide to implement virtual teams (VT), can they develop strategies to overcome the lack of social interaction, cultural differences, and preconceived notions that can hinder the development of a collaborative and cohesive team? In addition, leading DVTs in a manner that encourages collaboration, diversity, competency building, open communication, and overcoming feelings of isolation must be met in this technology-based environment. This chapter addresses the dilemma of managers in which they must have a clear understanding of what communication and relationship-building techniques and management systems are best suited.
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Background

Project management as a profession caught on in the mid-1950s and the discipline, methods, principles, and tools have evolved over the ensuing years and decades (Padar, Pataki, & Sebestyen, 2011). As more organizational leaders see the need to develop higher benchmarks for implementing strategic planning and tactical execution of projects, senior leaders are endorsing the standardized tools and techniques espoused through professional project management guiding principles. The key benefits of utilizing project management strategies include not only focusing on measuring project success through schedule, budget, and scope components, but additionally by focusing on developing the practitioners’ level of insight into effective leadership and communication skills.

More clarity is needed to explain how effective project managers use team communication and relationship-building and management elements in dispersed virtual project teams to influence the overall project success when team members have less face-to-face interaction. In the 1990’s, Hallam (1997) conducted a quantitative study of 2,000 team members from all across the United States and from various industries in an effort to understand the complexities of work team structures and dispel common beliefs about team effectiveness.

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