Global Virtual Teams and their effective functioning

The Challenge of Time Pressure

Masterarbeit, 2013

62 Seiten


Table of Contents

1.1. Problem formulation
1.2. Purpose

2.1. Time pressure
2.2. Ckallenges
2.2.1. Team Leaderskip in GVTs
2.2.2. Conflict in GVTs
2.2.3. Effective Communication in GVTs

3.1. Researck design
3.2. Tke Global Enterprise Experience
3.3. Sample selection
3.4. Data collection
3.4.1 Semi- structured interviews and documentation
3.5. Analytic procedure
3.7. Validity and reliability
3.8. Researck etkics

4.1. Time Pressure
4.2. Multicultural Aspects
4.3. Leaderskip
4.4. Conflicts
4.5. Trust
4.6. Communication

5.1. Analysis

6.1 Conclusion
6.2. Implications for tkeory and practice
6.3. Limitations




We are living in a hyper-modern world in which technology and its progress, globalization and workforce diversity (cultural diversity) are leading not only to constant change but also to new possibilities such as global virtual teams (GVTs) carrying out organizational processes (Zakaria et al., 2004). Within this modern world time has become a critical feature of competitive organizational environments leading to working conditions under which employees are demanded to achieve high levels of performance under extreme time pressure (Waller et al., 2001). Researching New Product Development (NPD) teams Barczak and Wilemon (2003) identified time pressure, as one of the kinds of work stress, being of significance and omnipresent. It seems however that time pressure in teams, let alone in virtual teams, has been somewhat “under researched” so far (Chong et al., 2011). This although literature suggests that one of a GVTs main purposes is to bestow an organization more flexibility and greater adjustment to the faster changing markets (Ahuja and Carley 1999, Kayworth and Leidner, 1999). Those teams if managed in the right way offer great benefits and advantages to multinational corporations such as the creation of culturally synergistic solutions, enhanced creativity (different mindsets) and cohesiveness among team members as well as the promotion of a greater acceptance of new ideas (Zakaria et al., 2004). Therefore according to the authors the use of such GVTs within corporations becomes more and more common.

1.1. Problem formulation

Defined as a globally dispersed team working across spatial and temporal boundaries by communicating through virtual channels (video-calls or similar), members of GVTs often come from different continents or countries and make it possible to bring the best people within any worldwide or country wide organization to work together on a specific task, regardless where they are located (Kankanhalli et al., 2007). Despite these benefits GVTs and their managers face multiple challenges, which are widely discussed in literature, but not yet fully explored. While team diversity for example is known for stimulating creativity and allowing different compositions of skills it may also reduce team cohesion and increase conflict (Kankanhalli et al., 2007). Underlying factors could be communication delays, time zone differences and lack of face-to-face contact (Kankanhalli et al., 2007). Focusing on the cultural component Zakaria et al. (2004) state that compared to virtual teams, GVTs can face higher barriers concerning the cultural and national differences. They are not only separated by degree of virtuality but they also differ in linguistic attributes, use of information and communication technologies and their work structure (Zakaria et al., 2004). Several authors argue that these factors may hinder the development of understanding and relationship building among members of a GVT, which in turn leads to ineffective teamwork and can result in misunderstandings, unfounded stereotypes and misinterpretations (Zakaria et al., 2004, Kankanhalli et al., 2007, Maznevski et al., 2006). Therefore Maznevski et al. (2006) make a good point by emphasizing the importance to pay more attention to relationship building within virtual teams since it can be harder to build an identity, trust and cooperation through virtual channels compared to organizations with face-to-face settings. Regarding virtual teams conflicts, they often remain unresolved for a longer period of time compared to other types of organizations due to the dispersed locations and because they often have several other tasks and functions (Maznevski et al., 2006). According to Dekker et al. (2008) it is also important that appropriate technology is used, such as virtual classrooms, netmeeting, email or Skype since using the wrong technology can lead to inefficiency as well as lack of respect and trust from the team members. Consequently, in order to make virtual teams effective, it is important to focus on behaviors that are critical for effective team functioning (Dekker et al., 2008).

As now delineated GVTs face several challenges of which one category can be called human challenges (Shea et al., 2011). Zakaria et al. (2004) present five key challenges for GVTs in this category; creating effective team leadership, managing conflict and GVTs dynamics, developing trust and relationships, understanding cross-cultural differences and lastly developing intercultural communication competence. Standing alone these challenges already can be seen to bring along issues and complicate the operation of such teams. One can therefore without doubt see that these challenges, when combined with perceived time pressure, of a hindering or challenging kind (Chong et al., 2011), might be enhanced, mediated or somehow else influenced. What happens when team members, which struggle with challenging technology, cultural differences and the absence of facial cues in addition to that they are stressed over time? Does the potential for conflict increase? Are cultural differences perceived in a different way? How does the leader of such a team handle the additional challenge of time pressure? Do team members use technologies in a different way? Whether in a project team form as knowledge workers (Lind, 1999), a for the duration of a task, temporary team, assembled on an as-needed basis (Jarvenpaa et al., 1998, Ramesh and Dennis, 2002) or as a long term collaborative team (Van Ryssen and Godar, 2000, Maznevski and Chudoba, 2000), GVTs should be affected by the development of nowadays work stress factor, called time pressure. The fact that GVTs often are used as project groups, which come together over a shorter period of time, solving “burning” issues or developing new ideas under restricted time (Lind, 1999, Jarvenpaa et al., 1998) makes this a relevant and interesting issue to address. It therefore seems to be time that time pressure within a team is a topic that gets addressed and researched, and this even more in such a modern and more often used work form, such as GVTs.

1.2. Purpose

The aim of this study is to explore a relatively new work form, called GVTs and the relationship of time pressure and the main challenges these teams face. With time pressure being an omnipresent work stress factor of nowadays organizations and GVT becoming more common within organizations the issue is of high relevance and we intend to explore potential influential dimensions between the both. The contribution of this paper is supposed to be a first step towards handling time pressure within GVTs and to advance theoretical research within this area. This leads us to our research question: How is perceived time pressure related to the effective functioning of GVTs?

2. Theory

Within this theory section we are going to present with help of a literature review findings within time pressure effects on teamwork and the human challenges within GVTs: cross-cultural differences, effective leadership, conflicts in GVTs, trust in GVTs as well as effective communication in GVTs.

2.1. Time pressure

Starting with time pressure, we would like to clarify that this study is focusing on perceived time pressure connected to the existence of a deadline. A deadline can be seen as an important “time-marker” (McGrath and O’Connor, 1996), which gives a certain time frame to a group's task and gets team members motivated to start working on their project (Gevers et al., 2001). Gällstedt (2003) argues that workers perceptions of working conditions within projects to be influenced by two important factors: motivation and stress. The challenge of reaching a clear set of goals confers projects a motivating character. However since projects also often feature tight deadlines they put high time pressure on team members (Gällstedt, 2003). Time pressure causing factors according to Gällstedt (2003) are: a high workload and incidents leading to individuals being concerned about reaching the deadline and the set goal; the latter tends to reduced motivation and increased stress. According to the author levels of motivation and stress vary over a project’s lifecycle, meaning that factors, which were initially motivating, can turn into stress factors. According to Rastegary and Landy (1993) with an approaching deadline the motivational power intensifies as well as time pressure levels rise. If the time frame available is considered insufficient for the task at hand and an excess of the deadline is known to be sanctioned, time pressure levels rise (Rastegary and Landy, 1993). However conscious goal-setting (equal to a deadline) is also seen to be a way to motivate people (Locke, 1996).

One factor, intensively studied in literature, is the relationship between time pressure and decision-making. Adelman et al. (2003) show in their study, that under time pressure a group leader instead of involving team members in the process might takes single-man decisions leading to him/her simply delegating and ordering team members what to do, excluding them from the decision-making process. This corresponds with Isenberg’s (1981) findings that groups in a high time-pressure condition report more salient leadership than groups in a low time-pressure condition. Isenberg (1981) furthermore denotes that high time pressure in groups’ leads to higher acceptance of an autocratic leadership as well as it leads to higher communication frequency within the group. A study done by Nordqvist et al. (2004) showed that support for the goal and collaborative ability can moderate the negative effects of time pressure since one feels that the workload is shared and does not bear the responsibility alone. By discussing the project goal and tasks within the team, team members are able to understand what is expected from them, which facilitates the process of structuring their work as well as to prioritize activities (Nordqvist et al., 2004). Another factor related to decision- making and time pressure is the fact that computer mediated groups have been seen to need longer time to reach decisions due to technology constraints (response times) (Campbell and Stasser, 2006).

Measuring performance in teams in terms of perceived satisfaction with group result and the commitment to those results Caballer et al. (2005) argue that time pressure decreases these dimensions and thereby performance. Moore and Tenney (2012) mention that the setting of a deadline and imposing of time pressure on a group, even if it might lead to less than optimal performance, still increases productivity. Time pressure of this sort might be beneficial for the task at hand since one at some point has to consider the decrease in marginal returns (performance only slightly better at some point) (ibid.). Arguing that time pressure at a team level has until now been under researched, Chong et al. (2011) take a closer look at the effects of time pressure on face-to-face new product development teams. The authors name in their literature review that literature seems to show inconsistent results when it comes to the relationship performance-time pressure, which according to them can be due to the fact that studies do not differ between “positive perceived” time pressure and “negative perceived” time pressure, the nature of time pressure. “The distinction between challenge and hindrance time pressure is whether the team perceives the stress as motivating, such that it promotes goal achievement, or as dampening, such that it constrains goal achievement.” (Chong et al., 2011, p. 72). First of which, according to the authors, is affecting a team and its performance positively and second of which, seems to lead to inferior performance (ibid.).

At an individual level it has been argued that boredom is a result of too little time pressure since attention is drawn to activities outside the project (Carver, 1996). Whereas very high levels of time pressure supposedly produce stress thereby causing so much arousal that one might engage in avoidance behavior (ibid.). Furthermore different individuals perceive deadlines and time pressure differently, which may influence the groups’ outcomes under a deadline condition (Waller et al., 2001). Van der Kleij (2007) states that the effect of time pressure on an individual level can lead to group members seeing the accomplishment of a task as their main purpose, which is why they tend to complete the task as fast as possible with poorer quality as result.

Meyerson et al. (1996) researching collocated temporary groups working under time constraints (deadline) argue, that these teams do not have sufficient time to engage in confidence building activities in order to build up trust, which is in line with Kelly and McGrath’s (1985) statement, that with limited time available to process information needed for task performance, task focus in groups increases and social relationship building behavior is reduced.

2.2. Challenges

2.2.1. Team Leadership in GVTs

Within this section we are integrating the dimensions of cultural diversity and trust in GVTs due to the fact that these dimensions can be seen to be managed by a leader of a GVT. Research into leadership of GVTs has been of a limited scope so far (Zander et al., 2012). Due to the characteristics of a GVT though, literature has made certain predictions about how a GVT leader should act. There are several definitions of culture and one of the most frequent used is developed by Hofstede (1991), he defines culture as “the collective programming of the human mind that distinguishes the members of one human group from those of others.” (p. 24). Shachaf (2008) states that cultural diversity increases the challenges for both leaders and members of GVTs since it increases the complexity, conflict, confusion and ambiguity of communication. Factors behind this can according to several authors (Jarvenpaa and Leidner, 1999; Dube and Pare, 2001) be that individuals from different cultures vary in terms of their communication and group behaviors such as different languages and preferences and may therefore have different ideas about what represents good performance.

Taking into account cultural differences within the team Zakaria et al. (2004) argue that the GVT manager should first of all create a shared understanding of team meaning, the teams focus and its function. Furthermore the team and its leader must be aware of their cultural variation leading to different leadership constructs and expectations (House et al., 2002), the creation of different “prototypes” of leaders. A leader is “evaluated” with the help of those prototypes, which can lead to a dilemma, a “power paradox” for the leader (Maznevski and Zander, 2000). This means that some parties might question the leader’s legitimacy and authority while others endorse the leader for the same thing. Brett et al. (2006) have delineated different attitudes towards hierarchy and authority as well as conflicting norms for decision-making as key barriers to leadership success in multicultural teams.

Zakaria et al. (2004) identify the following leader tasks: coordination of tasks/activities, motivation of team members, monitoring and facilitating collaboration as well as address/resolve conflicts. While those tasks exist in a homogeneous team as well the leader of a GVT has to engage in cross-cultural communication and understanding and create a collective sense of belonging and a shared understanding (Zakaria et al., 2004). To deal with the cultural differences and reduce certain cross-cultural barriers the authors state that GVTs must both individually and collectively develop a global mindset, which means being open minded, enclose appropriate behaviors and being sensitive to the divergences team members come across. At the same time as awareness and respect for diversity can lead to flexibility and high tolerance, Berg (2012) states that lack of awareness and respect could lead to unresolved differences and conflicting expectations, which in turn leads to low tolerance, short tempers and the temptation to negatively stereotype these difficulties. Powell et al. (2004) state that these negative effects of cultural differences may be decreased by actively trying to understand and accept the differences.

Kayworth and Leidner (2001/02) found leadership within a GVT being different from leadership within collocated teams due to its heavy reliance on technology (lack of face-to- face communication), temporal distances (different time zones), cultural differences and must therefore contain the “capability to deal with paradox and contradiction by performing multiple leadership roles simultaneously” (p.1). Not only must a virtual team leader exhibit a high degree of empathy towards the team members and engage in a mentoring role but he/she must also assert an appropriate degree of authority (Kayworth and Leidner, 2001/02). Providing regular, detailed and prompt communication (feedback) as well as the clear assignment of roles (responsibilities) furthermore belong to the repertoire of an effective virtual leader according to the authors. Due to the teams’ virtuality heightened importance lies on the leader to create team cohesiveness (social climate) and managing communication processes. The team leaders effectiveness depends on fulfilling these and other roles simultaneously (ibid.). In line with what we said about the power paradox Kayworth and

Leidner (2001/2002) suggest that subordinates will perceive their leader as more effective when he/she is able to enact in multiple leadership roles simultaneously. The effective virtual team leader therefore possesses relational skills (trust and group identity), task focus and creativity in communication (ibid.).

It was found that high level of role performance trust was connected to the emergence of leadership in virtual teams (Tyran et al., 2003). Meaning that the creation of trust (that team members have towards leader) is of especial importance in a virtual context (ibid.). As delineated within the time pressure dimension, this is a matter of especial complicacy. Taking the notion of SWIFT trust into this argument, which presupposes that a high level of actions maintains trust, the leader has to enact in high levels of activities (communication) (Jarvenpaa and Leidner, 1998). Furthermore SWIFT trust is seen as fragile and temporary, not growing and imported from other familiar settings, initially employing category-driven information processing leading to the development of stereotypical impressions of one another (Meyerson et al., 1996). Jarvenpaa and Leidner (1999) proved this to be true in temporary virtual teams. According to Panteli (2005) managers in a GVT may hold a key role in building trust in the team since they could help the team to develop SWIFT trust during the inception stage with the help of positive introductions, clear role assignment, activity alignment, communicate time and people constraints and create a task focus.

This leads us to developing the following sub-research questions:

1. How is perceived time pressure related to multicultural aspects within a GVT?
2. How is perceived time pressure related to trust within a GVT?
3. How is perceived time pressure related to leadership within a GVT?

2.2.2. Conflict in GVTs

Within this study we are focusing on the development of conflicts and their categories leaving aside their resolution. There are several dimensions to conflicts, which we are going to discuss in the following section. Robbins (1974) defines conflict as a disagreement among the members of a team due to incompatible goals or interests. Conflicts as such are in literature most often divided into two categories: relationship (affective) and task or process (cognitive) focused (Jehn, 1997). Cognitive conflicts concern structures and contents of the group’s task (Jehn, 1997) and are to a certain degree thought to be positive for group development, in the sense that they are seen as constructive and leading to a better performance outcome since the team considers a larger solution set and reaches a better understanding about the task (Van Knippenberg, 2004, Jehn and Mannix, 2001). Affective conflicts concern personal and social issues such as mutual dislike, annoyance or even hostility (Jehn, 1997) and is considered to be detrimental to individual and team performance (Jehn and Mannix, 2001) since it keeps team members distracted and unwilling to cooperative towards a common goal, their task (Blackburn et al., 2003).

Several authors (Blackburn et al., 2003, Griffith et al., 2003) state that in order to handle a conflict or to know that it exists one has first to detect it, which in a GVT is complicated by its virtuality. As described before, the GVT has to deal with an absence of facial expressions, tone of voice or body language, which hinders virtual team members to realize the development or existence of a conflict situation (Kankanhalli et al., 2007). However since an unacknowledged conflict can diminish intra-team trust and negatively impact team cohesion (Zakaria et al., 2004), which on the other hand can be detrimental to team performance (Kankanhalli et al., 2007), it is of essential importance for a GVT to recognize and deal with conflict situations.

In general literature agrees on the fact that the conflict potential within a GVT is high and has multiple sources. The heavy reliance and dependence on communication technology within a GVT is normally considered to be one of the foremost conflict sources (Mortensen and Hinds, 2001) since teams lack face-to-face interaction and the opportunities connected to it (Maznevski et al., 2006).

By adapting Tuckman’s (1965) team process model, which says that groups go through four stages of development: forming, storming, norming and performing, Ayoko et al. (2012) researching virtual teams detect which kinds of conflicts (cognitive/affective) took place in which stage and what source lay behind those. While within the norming stage teams seem to have constructive task conflicts, which concern technology use and task clarity (content) the storming phase is characterized by cognitive and affective conflicts accompanied by negative emotions, which include diverse sources such as language issues, team leadership, disagreements about task delegation, social loafing (Ayoko et al., 2012). It was found by the authors that affective conflicts even lead to destructive interpersonal attacks. Both stages norming and performing contain fewer conflicts but rather conflict resolution mechanisms such as explanations, apologies, mediation (third party intervention) and increased feedback seeking which ensures understanding between team members and demonstrates openness, respect and trust development (Ayoko et al., 2012). Also team performance was influenced as such that teams losing longer time on affective conflicts performed comparably worse (ibid.).

Team diversity is not only a source of conflict due to different preferences of team members in conflict behavior but just as well due to the diversity of members in itself (Zakaria et al, 2004). Team diversity might reduce team cohesion and increases conflict (Pelled, 1996). Two kinds of diversity can be functional (educational background, experience etc.) and social category (age, gender, culture etc.) (Pelled, 1999), both of which are conflict sources in GVTs (Kankanhalli et al., 2007). Functional diversity has been seen to increase task conflicts in GVTs (ibid.). Cultural diversity differing GVTs from virtual teams (including national, linguistic differences as well as cultural dimensions) (Hofstede, 1991) has been shown to increase affective conflicts (Kankanhalli et al., 2007). Language as a source of conflict can be seen when members are in advantage due to English (most often used communication language in such teams) being their mother tongue or when members of the same nation switch to their native language excluding others (Kankanhalli et al., 2007). Nationality poses a conflict issue if team members demonstrate animosity towards the nationality of another team member often involving the use of stereotypes (ibid.). Ethnocentrism (own nationality superior), prejudice (unfavorable perception of people from other nationalities) and stereotyping (generalizing attributes about people from another nationality) are factors related to national diversity, which hinder communication in GVTs and thereby cause conflicts (ibid.).

This leads us to developing the following sub-research question:

4. How is perceived time pressure related to conflicts within a GVT?

2.2.3. Effective Communication in GVTs

Since communication within a virtual setting comprises more than intercultural communication competence, we are going to adapt a rather general approach named “effective communication” instead. Effective communication has found to be an important factor within GVTs and their success (Daim et al., 2012).

The use of communication technologies for GVTs is a major factor for team effectiveness and affects the way teams communicate, work and structure relationships (Zakaria et al., 2004). In order to choose appropriate communication channels for GVTs it is important to be aware of the strengths, limitations and challenges of different channels (Grosse, 2002; Dubé and Paré, 2001). Nurmi (2009) states that different compositions of teams may utilize the communication channels differently depending on their specific geography, infrastructure, history, culture and language, which may generate conflicts and thereby leading to stress. Shachaf and Hara (2007) proceed that channel selection can also be limited based on individuals’ preferences, where people tend to not using certain types of channels. According to Dubé and Paré (2001) GVT members can for an example have different technological knowledge; some team members might be comfortable with some communication channels while never used other channels. The lack of knowledge can create tensions between individuals from different cultures and result in team member not participating in such meetings because of the media used (Dubé and Paré, 2001). The authors also mention other challenges such as hardware/software incompatibility, unreliability or unavailability, especially for people in developing countries. Therefore it is important to make sure that every team member has access to the required technologies (ibid.).

Shachaf and Hara (2007) point out that communication in GVTs often includes communication across different time zones and channels that are considered to be suited for this purpose are asynchronous such as e-mail where there is a lag time between one message being sent and another received. This makes it possible to send emails anytime without having to adapt to time differences in the team (ibid.).

Compared with communication in a face-to-face context Maznevski et al. (2006) state that technology communication has lower richness and social presence resulting in contextual information people are used with getting lost, which can lead to misunderstandings, unfounded stereotypes and misinterpretations. Technology based communication tends to eliminate cues about interpersonal affections such as warmth, attentiveness and trust (Gibson and Manuel, 2003). Accordingly, phone and teleconferences are seen as difficulty ways of communicating in GVTs, because team members cannot pick up any visual cues as well as they face language barriers, which can lead to vital ideas and information losses (Grosse, 2002; Dubé and Paré, 2001). At the same time research indicates that the elimination of visual cues in GVTs reduces the negative impact of team diversity such as different communication and interaction styles and the negative reactions to this diversity as well as the elimination of cultural differences regarding clothes, gesticulating and greeting (Staples and Zao, 2006). The written media also eliminate the effect of different accents, which furthermore reduces the differences in cultural backgrounds (Jarvenpaa and Leidner, 1999).

Seeking feedback is another challenge for virtual teams (Blackburn et al., 2003). Cues such as facial expressions and body language are a form of feedback for groups in face-to-face settings, but are in virtual teams nonexistent or hard to read and could lead to misunderstandings (Blackburn et al., 2003, Dubé and Paré, 2001). Kankanhalli et al. (2007) state that different channels have different capabilities to give feedback, the use of phone or Skype makes it possible to receive feedback immediately while using e-mail reduces the immediacy and efficiency of the feedback because it takes time for team members to reply to messages. This silence, which can arise while waiting for feedback could according to Shachaf (2008) affect the team effectiveness since different cultures interpret the silence differently. The author means that the silence could be understood as negative in some cultures while in others more naturally as fast responses are not seen as a priority, which makes it important to be able to interpret the signals from the team members in order to avoid misunderstandings. At the same time several authors mean that using e-mails gives people time to think through responses and reduces the language barrier (Grosse, 2002; Maznevski et al., 2006; Shachaf, 2008; Zakaria et al., 2004). Consequently it contributes to more clarity and less error in the messages, but also requires team members to invest more time in encoding and decoding messages (Shachaf, 2008). Shachaf, (2008) argues that finding solutions to reduce the language barrier is important for GVTs since the language is a central challenge, not having English as first language and be compelled to speak in a foreign language can easily result in misunderstandings which can hamper the teamwork.

This leads us to developing the following sub-research questions:

5. How is perceived time pressure related to communication within a GVT? How are the relations between the five factors demonstrated?

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 1. The relationship between Time Pressure in GVTs and the five challenges.

3. Method

In this section we will present the procedure for obtaining the empirical data as well as the analytical procedure. We will also describe the GEE project more narrow and present ethical and credibility aspects regarding the study.

3.1. Research design

We conducted an exploratory study since we have explored a phenomenon, which had not yet been researched in this context, namely time pressure within GVTs. Time pressure within our modern world is affecting organizations and their employees (Waller et al, 2001, Barczak and Wilemon, 2003). Since organizations react to globalization with the usage of such modern work forms as GVTs, the latter should be affected by time pressure. It is therefore of utter importance to explore, which affects time pressure can have on GVTs, in order to prescribe and improve their effective functioning. This should contribute to an organization’s welfare and therefore be in its interest to gain knowledge about this phenomenon. Since this phenomenon has not yet been researched a quantitative research approach, testing hypotheses, is not applicable and feasible in our case. We therefore chose a qualitative research method, which allowed us to explore and develop theoretical propositions from the collected data. These propositions have to be further tested in order to prove their validity. Qualitative research is especially relevant for the study of social relationship, which is highly applicable on our study since we explored teamwork (Flick, 2009).

3.2. The Global Enterprise Experience

The Global Enterprise Experience (GEE) is an international business competition with the aim of creating future global leaders who can work in partnership across cultures, worldviews and level of wealth and poverty (GEE’s Website, 2013). The participants are students, graduate or undergraduate, who are studying international business, international relations, development, peace studies, management, business communication, information systems or marketing (ibid.). In the project students from all over the world are being assigned to virtual teams of approximately 8 students (ibid.). According to GEE’s Internet presence the participants communicate through different communication channels such as Skype and emails. Each year a new topic is presented which is connected to social and environmental issues (ibid.). The homepage furthermore reports the topic of the 2012 competition was to

“develop a six-page business proposal on a profitable or service that links developed and developing countries for mutual benefit” and 90 teams were participating with students from forty different countries. Within the GEE project each team has 3 weeks to come up with an idea, conduct research and an analysis on the topic and write a business concept proposal of 6 pages (ibid). As denounced on GEE’s homepage the winning team and chosen individual participants get financial awards as well as other recognition certificates.

3.3. Sample selection

Our sample consists of students who participated in the GEE project 2012. We have chosen this competition, compared to a real life business setting, in order to decrease the biases and the history of a team. This because the team members had not worked together before, they were not familiar with each other, meaning they had not build up trust, knowledge about each others capabilities and work routines etcetera. This was of essential importance to us since we wanted to research those factors and the effect of time pressure on their functioning. In addition the GEE teams worked in a virtual setting meaning they cooperated through virtual devices mostly as well as the team members were dispersed around the world (composed of different cultures) which allowed us to research the cultural component within this project.

Our first step was to contact students by e-mail to ask if they wanted to participate in our study through interviews. The students who were contacted were randomly chosen and because of limited time frame of the study and rather having few into deep interviews instead of more superficial ones, only the first 45 teams on our list of participants were therefore contacted. This were half of the teams who participated in the GEE project in 2012 and consisted of 284 students. Furthermore, a reminder email was sent to all the students that had not replied. 18 students replied and wanted to participate in the interviews and 13 students were chosen for interviews. The interviewees were chosen based on non-probability and consequently not chosen statistically at random. The sample was instead purposive with a focus on cultural diversity, where the sample was chosen in terms of maximum variation in cultures. In doing this we ensured to be able to draw certain conclusions about the multicultural aspects of the teamwork. At the same time when choosing participants, we have also chosen students which participated in the same group (still culturally dispersed) because they have the same experience and in this case it is interesting to compare their perspectives and experiences to see if these differ and to explore the reasons behind it. Since we had a lack of responses from team leaders, which furthermore could give us another perspective, we also send out an email to the rest of the leaders in the remaining teams, consequently team forty- six to ninety. Furthermore, a reminder email was sent to all the team leaders that had not replied. We received additionally 9 more answers but because of lack of further replies to our emails only 2 Skype interviews could be carried out. However, 2 students sent their answers by email since they had not any access to Skype and provided a more consistent result with a higher validity and resulted in a total number of 15 participants. The fact that the majority of the responding leaders were from New Zealand is based on the competitions choice of designated leaders for the teams, which always stems from the University in New Zealand.


Ende der Leseprobe aus 62 Seiten


Global Virtual Teams and their effective functioning
The Challenge of Time Pressure
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Global Virtual Team, time pressure, cultural aspects, trust, leadership, conflicts, communication
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Franziska Franke (Autor:in)Caroline Schramm (Autor:in), 2013, Global Virtual Teams and their effective functioning, München, GRIN Verlag,


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