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International Virtual Teams: Engineering Global Success

International Virtual Teams: Engineering Global Success

Pam Estes Brewer

ISBN: 978-1-119-06408-4

Apr 2015

250 pages

$39.99

Description

Dr. Brewer presents a complete guide to international virtual team communication with the most up-to-date research developments in the engineering workplace on a global scale, and a problem-solving approach to using and communicating in virtual teams.

  • Presents guidelines heavily based on empirical data
  • Application of virtual team communication guidelines to the field of engineering
  • Provides strategies and sample projects for teaching

A Note from the Series Editor xiii

Foreword xv

Preface xvii

Acknowledgments xix

1 The Critical Role of Global Virtual Teams 1

1.1 Unique Features of This Book 2

1.2 Growth in International Virtual Workplaces 3

1.3 The International Nature of Virtual Teams 4

1.4 The Value of Information 5

1.5 Foundations of Global Virtual Team Theory 6

1.6 Global Virtual Team Basics 8

1.7 Targeted Benefits of Global Virtual Teams 8

1.8 Challenges of Global Virtual Teams 9

1.9 Connecting Global Engineering Talent 10

1.10 Engineering Successes and Failures 11

1.11 A Look Ahead 13

References 13

2 Virtual Team Basics 15

2.1 Defining and Describing Virtual Teams 15

2.2 Virtual Teams as Intercultures 17

2.3 Characteristics of Virtual Teams 18

2.4 Constructing the Virtual Workplace 19

2.5 The Transfer of Meaningful Information 20

2.6 Characteristics of Successful Virtual Teams 21

2.7 Challenges to Virtual Teams 22

2.7.1 Gaining Trust Takes Time 22

2.7.2 Engaging in Social Communication Influences Trust 23

2.7.3 Understanding the Communication Patterns of Other Team Members Is a Challenge 23

2.7.4 Attributing an Incorrect Meaning to a Message Is Common and Costly 24

2.7.5 Establishing Shared Interpretations of Language Is Important Even among Speakers of the Same Language 25

2.7.6 Establishing Shared Expectations of Technology Presents Some Surprising Complexities 27

2.7.7 Communicating Clear Boundaries Makes Sense in an Abstract Space 28

2.7.8 Negotiating Time Zones and Perception of Time Are Cultural Hurdles 29

2.7.9 Identifying Clear Leadership Roles May Be More Difficult Online 30

2.8 Summary 30

References 30

3 Cultural Preparation for Virtual Teams 33

3.1 Defining Culture 34

3.2 Alternative Perspectives on Culture 36

3.3 Levels of Consciousness 37

3.4 Language As a Barrier to Communication 38

3.5 Face-to-Face Intercultural Communication Theory 39

3.6 Common Challenges to Intercultural Face-To-Face Communication 42

3.7 A New Interculture—Online Virtual Teams 44

3.8 Working Through Filters 47

3.8.1 Directness and Culture Interact Differently in Online than in Face-to-Face Contexts 48

3.8.2 Credibility and Culture Affect the Transfer of Knowledge Online 48

3.9 Common Challenges to Global Virtual Communication 49

3.10 Success Strategies for Working Across Cultures Online 50

3.11 Summary 51

References 52

4 Patterns That Challenge the Effectiveness of Global Virtual Teams 55

4.1 Broad Patterns of Communication That Are Common to Most Global Virtual Teams 56

4.2 Organizational/Technological Patterns of Virtual Team Communication 58

4.3 Individual Patterns of Virtual Team Communication 59

4.4 Information Sharing—Challenges and Success Strategies 61

4.5 Understanding the Other Person and Culture—Challenges and Success Strategies 66

4.6 Use of Language—Challenges and Success Strategies 67

4.6.1 The Need for Translation Exists within and between Languages 69

4.6.2 Connotation Affects Interpretation 70

4.6.3 Pronunciation and Accents Affect Audio Messages 70

4.6.4 Language Proficiency May Affect an Audience’s Ability to Identify Key Points 70

4.6.5 Lower Language Proficiency Often Leads to a Lack of Useful Detail 71

4.6.6 Idiomatic Expressions Are Difficult to Translate 71

4.7 Trust/Credibility—Challenges and Success Strategies 72

4.8 Navigating Time Zones—Challenges and Success Strategies 73

4.9 Working with Technology—Challenges and Success Strategies 74

4.10 Managing Haste/Errors—Challenges and Success Strategies 76

4.11 Using Tone—Challenges and Success Strategies 76

4.12 Working with Directness—Challenges and Success Strategies 78

4.13 Working with Social Distance—Challenges and Success Strategies 79

4.14 Using Social Communication—Challenges and Success Strategies 80

4.15 Navigating Boundaries—Challenges and Success Strategies 81

4.16 Delivering Criticism—Challenges and Success Strategies 81

4.17 Netiquette—Challenges and Success Strategies 83

4.18 Personnel Issues—Challenges and Success Strategies 84

4.19 Working Through Misattribution—Challenges and Success Strategies 84

4.20 Working Through Lack of Response—Challenges and Success Strategies 85

4.21 The Impact of Cross-Cultural Miscommunication 86

4.22 Summary 87

References 88

5 How to Prevent Identify and Resolve Miscommunication in Virtual Teams 91

5.1 The Prevalence of Miscommunication in Virtual Teams 92

5.2 Strategies to Prevent Miscommunication 92

5.2.1 Plan for Effective Communication 94

5.2.2 Meet Synchronously (As an Online Version of the Face-to-Face Meeting) 95

5.2.3 Use Mixed Media 96

5.2.4 Use Metacommunication Strategies 96

5.2.5 Communicate Explicitly 97

5.2.6 Communicate Informally/Socially 98

5.3 Strategies to Identify Miscommunication 100

5.4 Strategies to Resolve Miscommunication 101

5.4.1 Communicate More Explicitly 102

5.4.2 Hold a Face-to-Face Meeting 103

5.4.3 Use Mixed Media 103

5.4.4 Clarify/Explain for Other People 104

5.4.5 Train/Educate Your Virtual Team Members 105

5.4.6 Evaluate the Situation before Acting 106

5.4.7 Repeat/Summarize/Resend Related Messages 106

5.4.8 Respond Quickly 106

5.4.9 Apologize with an Emphasis on Reasons 106

5.4.10 Refer the Problem to a Third Party 107

5.4.11 Wait or Ignore the Problem (Use Caution!) 107

5.4.12 A Few Other Suggestions 108

5.5 Beware of Some Solution Strategies 109

5.6 A Comparison of Solution Strategies 110

5.7 Summary 110

References 112

6 Technology and Global Virtual Teams 114

6.1 The Filtering Effects of Technology 116

6.1.1 Technology Limits Messages 116

6.1.2 Technology Is Not Neutral in Its Effects on Messages 117

6.2 Technology and Speed 120

6.3 Technology and Culture 122

6.4 Technology Use in Engineering Virtual Teams 123

6.5 Assessing Technology Needs for the Global Virtual Team 125

6.6 Modes of Technology and Related Affordances 129

6.7 Success Strategies for Building Virtual Team Technology Infrastructures 133

6.8 Summary 134

References 135

7 Establishing Successful Global Virtual Teams 137

7.1 The Basics of Metacommunication 138

7.2 The Strategic Significance of Metacommunication 140

7.2.1 Metacommunication Can Help Decrease Threats to Face 140

7.2.2 Metacommunication Can Help Navigate the Gap Between Cultures 140

7.2.3 Metacommunication Can Help Work with the Delicate Issue of Criticism 141

7.2.4 Metacommunication Can Help Build Trust 142

7.3 Naming the Metacommunication Process 143

7.4 Implementing Metacommunication 144

7.5 Steps for Establishing New Global Virtual Teams 150

7.6 Summary 156

References 156

8 Evaluating and Maintaining Effective Global Virtual Teams 158

8.1 Characteristics of Highly Functioning Global Virtual Teams 159

8.1.1 Highly Functioning Virtual Teams Share a Common Vision of Team Purpose 160

8.1.2 Highly Functioning Virtual Teams Accomplish Organizational and Individual Goals 160

8.1.3 Highly Functioning Virtual Teams Use Healthy Communication Patterns 161

8.2 Evaluating Existing Virtual Teams 166

8.3 Tools for Maintaining Highly Functioning Global Virtual Teams 167

8.4 A Beginning Look at Training Resources 176

8.4.1 Basic Business Writing (Style and Ethics) 176

8.4.2 Cross-Cultural Communication 177

8.4.3 Grammar/Language Skills 177

8.4.4 Netiquette 178

8.4.5 Organizational Communication 178

8.4.6 Technology 179

8.5 Summary 180

References 181

9 Designing Training for Global Virtual Team Communication 182

9.1 Importance of Global Virtual Team Preparation 183

9.2 Current State of Global Virtual Team Education and Training 184

9.3 Benefits of Improving Education and Training 185

9.4 Instructional Design for Global Virtual Team Preparation 186

9.4.1 Use Experiential Learning As a Method for Instruction 186

9.4.2 Carefully Choose the Learning Environment for Instruction 186

9.4.3 Teach Participants to Communicate Globally and Locally 187

9.4.4 Connect with International Colleagues 187

9.5 Adaptable Experiential Project Module 190

9.5.1 Establish Instructor Partnerships 190

9.5.2 Plan the Project with Your Partner Instructor 190

9.5.3 Provide an Overview for Participants 192

9.5.4 Facilitate a Study of the Cultures of Team Members 192

9.5.5 Discuss Writing for Translation 192

9.5.6 Initiate Participant Relationships 194

9.5.7 Introduce the Team Project and Purpose 195

9.5.8 Allow Time for Metacommunication 195

9.5.9 Document Expectations in a Communication Norming Guide 197

9.5.10 Complete Project Tasks 197

9.5.11 Reflect on Learning 198

9.5.12 Evaluate the Projects 198

9.6 Common Lessons Learned 199

9.7 Sample Project Designs 199

9.8 Summary 207

References 207

A Methods Used in Study A (Survey on Using International Virtual Teams in Engineering) 208

A.1 Research Focus 208

A.2 Participants 208

A.3 Data Collection Methods 209

A.4 Research Timeline 209

B Methods Used in Study B (Case Study Research of International Virtual Teams) 210

B.1 Research Questions 210

B.2 Participants 211

B.3 Data Collection Methods 213

B.4 Research Timeline 213

Glossary 215

Index 219