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The Increasing Competition in the Global Economy Essay

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The increasing competition in the global economy has raised the number of virtual teams, and the cultural difference is identified as a critical factor that determines the effectiveness of team performance (Connaughton and Shuffler, 2007, cited in Dekker, Rutte & Van den Berg, 2008). Dekker et al. (2008) investigate whether members of virtual teams from the U.S., India, and Belgium perceived the same critical interaction behaviours as Dutch team members from a previous study; that is, they evaluate whether team members from different cultures have different perceptions of critical behaviours required for effective teams, and whether team members from different cultures assign the same values to the categories of interaction behaviour.

A number of other studies mentioned in this article indicate that the cultural dimensions developed by Hofstede (2007) increase the likelihood that virtual teams with different cultures perceive different interaction behaviours for contribution to team outcomes.

Dekker & Rutte (submitted for publication) designed a framework of 13 categories that show the crucial interaction behaviours required in Dutch virtual teams.

However in this study, they used five cultural dimensions to show the differences in preferences for interaction behaviours perceived by virtual teams members in different country. These cultural dimensions are: power distance (PD), uncertainty avoidance (UA), individualism (IND), masculinity (MAS), and long-term oriention (LTO) (Hofstede, 2001, cited in Dekker et al, 2008).

In this article, Dekker et al. (2008) seek to validate seven hypotheses:

1. Global virtual team workers from low PD cultures, compared to high PD cultures, attach greater value to Including Team Members. This hypothesis is supported by studies that showed the judgment of subordinates in low PD teams were perceived as more important than the judgement made by members in high PD teams (Earley, 1999; Javidan & House, 2001; cited in Dekker et al., 2008).

2. Global virtual team workers from high PD, compared to low PD cultures, attach greater value to Media use. This is based on the study done by Richardson and Simith (2007), which found that teams members in high PD cultures prefer face-to-face meetings to emails when communicating with supervisors.

3. Global virtual team workers from high UA, compared to low UA cultures, attach greater value to Social-emotional communication. Previous findings suggested that high UA cultures might perceive this category as less important because communication needs to be clear and fact-based (Javidan & House, 2001, cited in Dekker et al., 2008).

4. Global virtual team workers from high IND, compared to low IND cultures, attach greater value to Reliable interaction. This is because high individualism teams are most likely to promote communication and coordination patterns among team workers to maintain high performance (Earley, 1999, cited in Dekker et al., 2008).

5. Global virtual team workers from high IND, compared to low IND cultures, attach greater value to Active participation. This is because Low IND workers are expected to be more cooperative than workers from individualistic cultures (McLeod, Lobel, Cox, 1996, cited in Dekker et al., 2008).

6. Global virtual team workers from high MAS, compared to low MAS cultures, attach greater value to Task progress communication. According to the author, Task-progress communication is about showing member’s weakness when the member cannot meet the deadlines, which is not likely in a more masculine environment.

7. Global virtual team workers from high MAS, compared to low MAS Extra-role behaviour cultures, attach greater value to Media use. This too was based on the explaination provided by the author, that caring and helping others are more likely to occur in a feminine culture.

For this research, a total of 36 professional virtual team members from large multinational corporations in the U.S., India, and Belgium were interviewed using Critical Incident Technique (CIF). Snowball sampling technique was used to recruit participants who work in information systems, services, sales, and human resources. There were 14 members chosen from the U.S., 11 from India, and 11 from Belgium. An open interview method was used to capture as much new categories of critical behaviour as possible, and the interviewees were asked to recall the details of each critical incidents they had observed. All information collected was kept confidential and only used for this research. Dekker et al. (2008) designed the selection of cultures in the way to compare the perceptions of individual members instead of evaluating the average within different countries, so that the difficulty of selecting a large number of samples can be avoided.

An important finding in the research is a new category, Respectfulness, found in the Belgian and Indian samples. Therefore it is important to understand the status differences when interacting with team members in these two countries. Results also shows that the Indian samples mentioned more critical behaviours that contributed to positives outcomes, which might be the result of a collective culture. The data shows that the samples attaches different values to different categories. The category of Including team members were mentioned most often in the U.S., a culture with low PD.

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