Using Computer Mediated Communication as a Tool to Facilitate Intercultural Collaboration of Global Virtual Teams

Using Computer Mediated Communication as a Tool to Facilitate Intercultural Collaboration of Global Virtual Teams

Norhayati Zakaria (Universiti Utara Malaysia, Malaysia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-652-5.ch083
OnDemand PDF Download:
$30.00
List Price: $37.50

Abstract

Many multinational companies (MNCs) have inevitably assembled and employed global virtual teams (GVTs) to leverage their work performance. GVTs are considered as an innovative and flexible work structure to achieve competitiveness in the era of globalization. The emergence of this structure is also due to the heavy reliance on computer-mediated communication technology and, as such, geographical boundaries and time zones are no longer considered as a hindrance to collaboration and communication. Yet, cultural differences remain challenging when team members work together in a non-collocated environment when they are engaged in managerial tasks such as problem-solving, negotiations, decision-making, and coordination. Thus, this new distributed collaborative phenomenon suggests that one of the key challenges in working together apart is the ability to adapt and acculturate to different cultural values that exist among team members. People need to be fully aware, understand, and be sensitive to the impact of cultural differences by exploiting appropriate online behaviors in order to reduce its detrimental influence on work performance. The purpose of this article is to present and understand the dynamics of intercultural collaboration within global virtual teams and how culture impacts their work performance in MNCs. Individuals from all over the world with diverse cultural backgrounds are increasingly collaborating using computer-mediated communication (CMC) technologies such as e-mail, Web, chat and videoconferencing, and others. Existing literature shows that when people with different cultural values communicate, it is not unusual for miscommunication, misunderstanding, and misinterpretations to occur (Chen, 2001; Gudykunst, 2003). Problems are intensified in CMC environment because of its limitation such as the absence of body language, facial expressions, tone of voice, and many others (Sproull & Kiesler, 1986; Walther, 1996). However, little research has been conducted on the ways in which different intercultural communication styles and cultural values affect people working in a distributed or virtual environment, particularly on team members’ performance. Thus, in this article, first, I will introduce the phenomenon of GVTs and its crucial function in MNCs. Second, I will present the background of the phenomenon by highlighting the gaps as identified between two research fields--crosscultural management and computer-mediated communication. Next, the main focus of the article will be a discussion of the issue of intercultural collaboration. In this section, I will first provide a definition of GVTs, followed by several arguments on cultural challenges of GVTs. In the subsequent section, I will discuss the different types of CMC that are available to GVTs and the impact of culture on its utilization. Then, I will provide a brief direction of the future research agenda comprising of both the practical as well as theoretical perspectives. In conclusion, the article will highlight the significance of using GVTs in MNCs when people engage more prominently in intercultural collaboration, using CMC in order to promote and expand international business.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book:
Reset