Managing Cultural Differences Across Virtual Teams in Projects

Topics: Culture, Management, Virtual team Pages: 11 (3564 words) Published: June 17, 2010

I have taken this topic 'MANAGING CULTURAL DIFFERENCES ACROSS VIRTUAL TEAMS IN PROJECTS' since i felt there was a growing need in project management to address this issue. Thanks to growing global competition, today's businesses are no longer restricted by geographic boundaries. Globalization drives many businesses into emerging markets and low wage countries in order to take advantage of their intellectual capital, and lower cost of operation.(Globalization and national economic development: Analyzing benefits and costs, Anwar, Sajid,Journal of Business and Management,2002) These changes have given rise to the "virtual team"; a cross-cultural group of co-workers that span international borders and typically communicate by means of technology rather than face-to-face meetings. A recent study by the Garner Group, states that by the year 2008, 41 million corporate employees will work in a virtual workplace at least one day per week [WikiPedia,, "Virtual Teams"]. Teams geographically separated not only must work in separate time zones, but also overcome cultural norms and differences, which have been described as one of the major issues of project management when dealing with virtual teams [B. Egginton, Cultural Complexity and improvement performance of large international projects, in Proc. Engineering Management Conf. IEEE Int., India 1993, pp. 53 58]. In this literature review we will look at the challenges of the virtual team communication across different cultures. Initially we will explore the communication problems associated with time differences and language barriers often magnified by the lack of face-to-face experience and cultural differences. Then we will move further to investigate cultural value differences between virtual team members, different power relationships and hierarchical arrangements, diverse communication styles and how are these enhanced in the virtual environments.


I have taken up this topic after discussions with the tutor and after having a good look into what is the need of today’s environment, i felt that Culture is a significant factor when it concerns multinational corporations like Google, Microsoft or apple inc which are part and parcel of our everyday life ,some way or the other, or for that matter any concern that operates on a large scale across borders, because the projects taken up involve teams, and in today's scenario, 'Virtual Teams' which consists of people from different nationalities and various backgrounds, “Global projects consist of virtual teams formed from multiple countries, continents, and cultures, which crisscross functions, work locale, markets, and products” (Gray & Larson, 2006, 489). Benefits and disadvantages of global projects can be sometimes similar. Benefits can range from obtaining different points of view based on culture, function, religion and time zones. Disadvantages can also be limited based on the same considerations. Team A will provide information regarding the management of global projects, challenges faced, similarities, differences and three trends that will be important in the next decade. “Project teams operate in global environments, and because they do, there are a host of issues that face project managers” (Chapman, 2008). Virtual Project teams are all over the world and face to face interaction is limited. Projects can be conducted via electronics; phone, web conferencing, instant messaging, fax, email and video conferencing. Communication, leadership and direct support from the executives are key factors in running a successful project. Clear roles need to be established by the PM based on individual member skills, culture and understanding of the project goals.


References: [3] L. Dub and G. Par , Global Virtual Teams, Communication ACM, vol. 44 no.12, pp.71-73, 2001
[4] WikiPedia,, "Virtual Teams".
[5] Trust and the virtual organization. Harvard Business Review 73 pp. 40-49, Handy, C., 1995
[6] Malcolm Higgs, Towers Perrin, Overcoming the problems of cultural differences to establish success for international management teams
[8] Rohit Arya: Why is the cow sacred?
[10] Leigh L Thompson, The Mind and Heart of the Negotiator., Pearson Education Inc., 2005
[11] Globalization and national economic development: Analyzing benefits and costs, Anwar, Sajid, Journal of Business and Management, 2002
[12] Gray & Larson, 2006, 489
[13] Chapman, 2008
[14] Virtual team communication, Tom Gilb, 2007
[15] Avolio, Kahai, and Dodge, 2001
[16] Sirkka L
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