The emergence of a global marketplace requires multinational teams in order for organizations to stay competitive and continue growth and expansion. Yet the current research of global virtual team dynamics and effectiveness does not provide a universal understanding.
Past studies on the dynamics and effectiveness of global virtual teams has been inconsistent. Most proved that face to face groups were more effective than virtual groups, while other studies proved quite the contrary. Research on multinational teams was limited, but most consistently agreed that although multinational teams held the most potential for success, this fact was rarely realized.
A study of three global virtual teams was conducted over twenty one months to collect data on the dynamics of virtual teams and to determine if they are effective. The areas of study included proper selection of technology mediums, realization of the potential that multinational teams and the use of social interaction to maintain relationship building and corporate culture.
The study revealed both the success and failure of companies that implemented global virtual teams. Effective teams selected the best technology mediums based on the level of an incident in the decision process. Email and fax were only used for brief communication, while video conferencing and face to face meetings were held for larger and more complex decisions. Unsuccessful companies often used email, fax or teleconferencing for in depth processes and rarely held in person team meetings.
Effective teams also understood that the larger the difference in cultural background and wider distance between members, the more complex the technology medium needed to be and more detailed the messages. Ineffective teams often failed to communicate on a consistent basis and often neglected cultural differences.
Effective global virtual teams established a rhythm of face to face meetings to salvage the social interaction of corporate cultures. The face to face meetings were used mostly for higher level decision processes, complex messages and relationship building. SellTech and MakeTech both conducted intense face to face meeting with intense agendas for complex business issues and decision making. Ineffective teams were inconsistent with the use of in person team meetings and the complex decision making was often communicated via improper technology mediums.
In conclusion, virtual global teams are effective when the uses of the technology mediums are properly selected and other successful management strategies are maintained. Multinational teams hold great potential to learn from and teach each other as long as the potential is realized. Also, a rhythm of face to face meetings allows a team to develop relationships and preserves the corporate culture.
Maznevski. M. L. and Chudoba K. M., (2000). Bridging Space Over Time: Global Virtual Team Dynamics and Effectiveness. Organization Science, Volume 1 (Issue 5), pp. 473 – 492