Leveraging Diversity in a Virtual Context: Global Diversity and Cyber-Aggression

Leveraging Diversity in a Virtual Context: Global Diversity and Cyber-Aggression

Robyn A. Berkley, Roxanne Beard, David M. Kaplan
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1812-1.ch029
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In this chapter, the authors present a model for understanding the context and determinants of aggression within an on-line environment, known as cyber-aggression. They propose that the heterogeneity of global virtual teams along with other key individual characteristics such as Social Dominance Orientation, Identification Threat, and past experience with aggression/harassment will lead to greater likelihood of cyber-aggression occurring or being perceived by group members. Additionally, the use of lean communication media, as well as the distance between team members and the social and professional isolation that goes along with global virtual team work also contributes to greater likelihood of cyber-aggression occurring. Lastly, without any way to build meaningful trust in a virtual setting and a lack of cross-cultural competence, members of global virtual teams are more likely to engage in behaviors that do not demonstrate cultural sensitivity or cohesion on the team, resulting in poor communication which can lead to more aggressive behaviors. The authors conclude their chapter with recommendations on how to best combat these pitfalls of working in a virtual environment.
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Team Heterogeneity And Aggression

While team heterogeneity can be measured along multiple dimensions, given the emphasis here on global diversity, the proposed model and associated discussion will focus on cross-cultural differences. Specifically, the model uses the typology developed by Hofstede (2001) to define these differences. Included among these dimensions are individualism-collectivism, uncertainty avoidance, power distance, masculinity-femininity, and time orientation. Individualism-collectivism refers to the extent that members of a society focus on personal (individual) versus group (collectivist) goals and outcomes. As for uncertainty avoidance, those societies that are considered strong on this dimension disdain ambiguity and risk while those from weak uncertainty avoidance cultures have greater comfort and even preferences for these. Finally, power distance represents the extent to which members of the culture expect and accept that power will not be distributed equally within a society or organization. These dimensions have important implications for how someone may interact as a member of a GVT (Korac-Kakabadse, et al., 2001; Li, 2009; Matveev & Nelson, 2004).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Global Workplace: The concept that organizations can exist in more than one country across the globe or can interact with organizations in different locations worldwide

Psychological Contract: The mutual beliefs, perceptions, and informal obligations between an employer and an employee

Virtual Team: A team made up of individuals dispersed across time, geography, or organizational structures. These teams typically rely on a variety of communication technologies to complete work tasks.

Global Virtual Team (GVT): Workplace teams separated by vast distances and limited ability to communicate face-to-face.

Synchronous Communication: Any form of communication in which the sender and receiver are concurrently communicating.

Cyber-Aggression: A relationship-based phenomenon whereby an individual intentionally intimidates, emotionally harms, or exerts power over another in an on-line environment.

Asynchronous Communication: Any form of communication in which the sender and receiver are not concurrently communicating.

Social Dominance Orientation: A personality variable that measures the belief in individuals that some groups are superior relative to others and those individuals therefore approve of inequality/social hierarchy within in-group relationships.

Cross-Cultural Competence: An individual’s set of knowledge, skills, and dispositions that facilitate adaptation in cross-cultural environments.

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