Knowledge Sharing in Distributed Teams: Influence of National and Organizational Culture

Knowledge Sharing in Distributed Teams: Influence of National and Organizational Culture

Kerstin Viola Siakas, Elli Georgiadou, Dimitrios Siakas
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5014-3.ch011
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Recent trends in the world economy, including globalization and advances in ICTs and social media, have enabled networking as a business model. As a result, distributed teams have emerged. This chapter provides a basis for discussion and analysis of knowledge sharing between distributed team members working in a global context in different organizational and national cultures. Cultural dynamics influencing knowledge sharing in different cultural settings is examined by investigating the different cultural values and perceptions related to knowledge sharing. The aims are to make the human and cultural dynamics that bear on knowledge sharing and knowledge management success more explicit. The use of the cultural and organizational diversity evaluation (CODE) model is proposed for assessing the fit between national and organizational culture. The objective of using the CODE model is to raise awareness of the cultural values and attitudes in distributed teams and to help ensure an effective quality management process, and foster a knowledge sharing culture within distributed teams.
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In today’s highly competitive and rapidly changing global environment an increasing amount of distributed teams are formed in order to gain access to world class capabilities, reduce costs and integrate diverse perspectives (Siakas & Balstrup, 2006). Distributed teams, by their very nature, imply the presence of a group of geographically dispersed individuals often from different cultural, educational and professional backgrounds. They work within a specific time frame on a joint project or common task originating from collaboration between subsidiaries in multinational organization, between customers and service providers in outsourcing relationships, between members of joint ventures or other types of global partnerships. The distributed team is comprised of experts and staff usually situated in different locations, organizations, countries and time zones. Distributed teams consist of goal oriented team members / knowledge workers, who collaborate towards a shared goal (Lipnack & Stamps, 1997; Handy, 2000; Mansour-Cole, 2001), more apart than in same location. Distributed team members are dispersed geographically and collaborate supported by a web of ICTs. The main characteristics of distributed teamwork include goal orientation, joint decision making, co-ordination, interrelation of activities and mutual accountability for team results (Bal & Teo, 2000).

Our arguments derive from the literature reviews and reports on the state-of-the-art in KM and cross-cultural research. The results of field-studies related to knowledge sharing between members of distributed teams carried out in both academia and industry in several countries are reported. We also reflect on our own experience from different European countries and various transnational projects with partners of different work values.

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