The Role of Virtual Multicultural Teams in Corporate Culture

The Role of Virtual Multicultural Teams in Corporate Culture

Amira El Guindi (Maastricht School of Management, The Netherlands) and Sherif Kamel (The American University in Cairo, Egypt)
Copyright: © 2003 |Pages: 25
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-064-6.ch005
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Abstract

Information and communication technologies are impacting today’s organizations and businesses in many diverse ways. The implications are perceived at the individual, organizational, and national levels. The old accustomed-to boundaries of national economies and markets are giving way to globalization and newly emerging trends. Competition is increasing, and due to the forces of change, the world market will sweep aside the small market players to make way for global organizations that are capable of penetrating the world markets through a massive global outreach strategy. In that respect, there is a need to invest in innovative business models such as virtual multicultural teams that are capable of handling the pressures of growing competition while capitalizing on the evolution of information and communication technology. Global organizations need to operate through a very flexible structure that allows freedom and speed, and replaces the hierarchical models with structures that are flatter and adequate for stronger and more efficient communication. Such a structure will allow bottom-up decision making and self-management and will capitalize on the advantages of employing multicultural teams; the diversified capacities, knowledge and business perception of these teams will be conducive to more in-depth innovation and creativity. Virtual teams can provide an organization with a solid opportunity to compete, making it easier to adapt to different situations and reducing conflicts. This chapter reflects the results of a study conducted in Egypt that targeted the determination of the possibility of reducing multicultural team conflicts by establishing a corporate culture that could have a strong influence on team members using virtual teams. The study covered six organizations operating through virtual multicultural teams and describes the analysis of the findings that relate to the role of corporate culture, the management style, and conflict resolution, among other elements. Global organizations face the challenge of operating through global multicultural teams whose members—coming from different cultural backgrounds—often stumble into conflicts that influence the overall performance of the organization. The core issue of this study is the impact of multicultural team conflicts on the overall organizational performance. Therefore, the objective of the study was to examine the relationship between corporate culture and multicultural team conflicts and to determine whether it is possible to reduce multicultural team conflicts by building a corporate culture in which all individual cultures would fit and where the management plays a vital role in transmitting the corporate culture to different teams in order to help global organizations become more efficient using virtual multicultural teams.

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