How Similar or Different are We?: A Perception of Diversity in Global Virtual Teams

How Similar or Different are We?: A Perception of Diversity in Global Virtual Teams

Gaelle Picherit-Duthler (Zayed University, United Arab Emirates)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-077-4.ch010
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Global virtual teams are becoming vastly popular amongst public and private organizations. This prevalent way of organizing can be used for students to gain experience in working with various cultures using technology. GlobCom is a global communication project that provides students with this opportunity but also presents them with challenges such as cultural barriers. This chapter explores students’ perceptions of diversity in their global virtual teams. It provides insight as to how students overcome issues of cultural differences by working in an online environment.
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As virtual teams become more common in the business world, education institutions need to prepare students to excel in that environment. Some academic institutions emulate this by creating virtual teams. Students participate in projects with other students using a variety of communication technologies. Only a few projects incorporate a more international component by including students from various countries to create Global Virtual Teams (GVT).

Global Virtual Teams are of great use in the field of international public relations. They offer the responsiveness and expertise needed in certain situations. Jarvenpaa & Leidner (1999) define a Global Virtual Team as “temporary, culturally diverse, geographically dispersed, electronically communicating work group” (p. 792). This definition focuses on three important defining components. The first one is about whether the teams tend to be permanent or temporary. It does not provide a sense of time in terms of length, whether the team will be together one month or one year. However, GVT are usually formed with team members who have no common history and will not work together in the long term.

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