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What global virtual teams must have to succeed (Essay Sample)


What mix do global virtual teams need to succeed?


Global virtual teams need to build on a strong foundation so as to counter the risks posed by the dynamic and challenging business environment and also maximize from the opportunities it offers. This is made possible by the incorporation of certain key aspects which will be explained in this paper. This paper explains the factors that Global Virtual Teams (GVTs) need to succeed. It begins by providing background information about global virtual teams by defining the basic terms. A team and a virtual team are clearly defined in the essay. The requisite components for the success of the virtual teams discussed include trust, communication, culture individual competence and setting of clear goals and objectives.
The criticality of having clearly set goals and objectives to avoid ambiguity, confusion and conflicting roles is vividly depicted in the essay. How team autonomy which is vital for geographically dispersed teams is also shown as a fruit bone by clearly set goals and objectives. Trust being the ability to rely on someone and have confidence in him or her to execute particular tasks, is also featured in the paper. The paper also delves into analysing the thoughts of researchers on their various perceptions on the importance of communication as a critical success factor for GVTs.
Culture, which is diverse and different from one individual to another, is also featured. The paper also looks into how culture can positively impact in a virtual when taken constructively. An analysis of the various arguments advanced by researchers on the aspects of culture is equally highlighted in the paper. The paper wraps up by giving a solid conclusion demonstrating how the factors mentioned above a critical to the success Global Virtual Teams.
An inherent question that may linger in one’s mind is what are Global Virtual teams? What is a virtual team? Or what is a team altogether? To grab a clear comprehension of what a global virtual team is, I shall begin by defining the some terms. A team is a group of individuals who independently unite and interact voluntarily to achieve desired set objectives and goals. (Hackman 2002, pp.92-134) The word virtual literally means “not existing physically but made to exist by software hence creating an artificial environment.” A virtual team is therefore ‘a group of individuals who work independently across space, time, physical and organizational boundaries with use of computer-mediated technologies to undertake a given task.’ (Bell and Kozlowski 2002, pp.14-49)
There is a limited or no face-to-face interaction among the members of a virtual team. They are dispersed geographically hence they cannot regularly meet face-to-face. (Berry 2011, pp.186-206) Virtual teams evolved since the evolution of the internet which has provided a perfect avenue for Multi-National Corporations and teams to interact with ease across space and time. (Hackman 2002, pp.92-134)
Critical success factors
Setting of goals and objectives
A mission, goals and objectives clearly define any team. They act as a roadmap that guides the participants in the team towards the achievement of the desired objectives. According to Gluesing et al, a research conducted by students on global virtual teams revealed that there is great importance for team members to have and strictly observe the set mission and objectives to act as their driving force from the beginning of an engagement. (Gluesing et al 2010, pp.6551-6560) To establish and maintain interaction among members and ensure sustainable collaboration, the researchers found out that shared understanding among team members was necessary. (Gluesing et al 2010, pp.6551-6560)
Clearly set goals and objectives lead to team autonomy. (Kirkman et al 2004, pp.175-192) Members will be able to work independently without constant supervision. Lee-Kelley and Sankey in their research found out that unclear roles and responsibilities contribute to failure. (Lee-Kelley and Sankey 2008, pp.51-62) Defining the roles vividly and the responsibilities of team members facilitate virtual team’s success. Nariman Karimi, senior vice president and CIO of DHL Asia pacific, once said that comprehending ones roles and what to expect from others “created a sense of identity and purpose.” (Pastore 2008, pp.48-52) It knits them together.
According to a survey conducted by Cummings, members of geographically dispersed teams who allocated more time to their teams recorded better results and increased performance. The members who do these are those who have aligned themselves to the set goals and objectives. (Cummings 2011, pp.24-26) It is only possible for a member of a team to align himself or herself to the set goals if he or she clearly understands what is required of him or her. Cummings also argued that, geographical boundaries being an impediment to achieving the desired results of a team can be overcome where team members align themselves to the agreed goals. (Cummings 2011, pp.24-26)
“Shared goals and shared understandings are required on any team, and negotiation of these common goals is an intrinsic part of the team-building process,” comments Berry. (Berry 2011, pp.186-206) Shared goal enhances collaborative work and strengthens social relationships among team members. This has a positive relationship to the aggregate output of the team hence a vital component. Berry goes on to argue that clearly set rules and standards reduce the time required for team start-ups as well as avoiding unnecessary reinvention of the daily operating practices. (Berry 2011, pp.186-206)
Trust is a critical success factor for Global Virtual Teams. There is a feeling among many researchers that trust is the founding success factor of many teams. (Bennett 1996, pp.35-36; Hart & Saunders 1997, pp.23-42) Ideally, trust is build when individuals are able to work face-to-face but this rarely or does not at all happen with Global Virtual Teams. (Mancini 2010, pp.1-5) Badaracco (1991) and Bennet (1996) assert that the building of trust is achieved through frequent and continued interaction, information sharing and the development of common organization culture. On the other hand, Mancini believes that for trust to be built in virtual teams, one must first understand the cultures involved in the teams. (Mancini 2010, pp.1-5) Business partners come from different geographical and cultural regions. Such differences may hamper the performance of the business. This is especially worse when communication is adversely affected as it undermines joint efforts. (Moon 1996, pp. 70-84) Communication and cultural constraints impede the building of trust within global virtual teams. Understanding the diverse aspects of the partners cultures in the teams enables the members of the team to appreciate the others cultures and hence built trust.
To explain the nature of trust in GVTs, McKnight et al developed a trust model they named the initial trust model to explain how trust and trustworthiness was highly present in first engagements. (McKnight et al 1998, pp.473-490) McKnight et al defined trustworthiness to be “a belief that comes before trust and trust to be the intention or willingness to depend on or count on another party.” (McKnight et al 1998, pp. 473-490) McKnight believed that teammates do not make inferences about each other but rather use pre-existing knowledge and expectations. As such they concluded that before the interaction of members of newly formed relationships, trustworthiness and trust are highly present.
According to Dirks and Ferrin (2001), trust minimizes uncertainty and diminishes ambiguity and allows for the existence of cooperation and improved productivity. (Dirks and Ferrin 2001, pp. 450-467) Presence of trust according to Dirks and Ferrin enabled team members to hold positive attitudes such as higher satisfaction and perceptions of good performance and vice versa. According to Dirks and Ferrin, trust dictated how a teammate accesses future actions with another teammate and also affects how one interprets past actions. The duo argued that where trust is strongly built, any negative behaviour that may arise will not be attributed to the defaulting member but and external factor hence regarded as a technical failure. Absence of trust will thus direct the fault to the defaulting member. (Dirks and Ferrin 2001, pp. 450-467) Trust therefore plays a moderating role.
In addition, a number of virtual teams’ researchers have found that trust is positively related to performance. Kanawattanachai and Youngjin concluded that trusts among teammates had a positive impact on the performance outcomes. (Kanawattanachai and Youngjin 2002, pp.187–213) Empirical research has however not subscribed to the above conclusion. On the contrary it has depicted feeble and inconsistent effects of trust on performance. (Jarvenpaa 2004, pp.250-264)
Cordery et al in a case study of Alcoa, a GVT, found out that withholding of information and slow development of trust imposes serious consequences on a GVT. (Cordery et al 2009, pp.204-216) They had found that absence of trust will prevent members from seeking consultations form teammates as it will invoke feelings of inferiority. It made members to feel that their feedbacks may not be appreciated hence inhibiting further communication. The researchers found out that poor low trust inhibited the GVT from performing to its full potential. (Cordery et al 2009, pp.204-216) A global virtual team will thus need to invest in trust through communication and motivation of members as it is an importance ingredient for the success of GVTs. With trust, it would be easier to implement common goals and improve ...
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