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Chapter 18: Decoupling and Coupling in Global Teams: Implications for Human Resource Management
18 Decoupling and coupling in global teams: implications for human resource management Jennifer L. Gibbs Global teams are often formed in multinational corporations as a strategic human resource solution for bringing together people with speciﬁc knowledge, skills and expertise, regardless of their geographical location. Interaction among such diverse individuals is enabled through use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) such as e-mail, audio- and videoconferencing, knowledge management systems and archival databases. Global teams oﬀer the promise of better and more innovative solutions and products through tapping into human resource pools worldwide, more eﬃcient around-the-clock work across time zones, and lower-cost access to local markets and customers without the need for travel (Carmel, 1999; Gluesing & Gibson, 2004). However, in order to achieve these beneﬁts, global teams must contend with a number of challenges due to the high level of complexity they face in working across multiple contexts: geographical, temporal, cultural and technological. This chapter addresses structural dynamics of global teams, reviewing key challenges and eﬀective team-building strategies for managing such dynamics. Challenges due to decoupling in global teams Global teams are deﬁned here as work teams that are virtual, culturally diverse, structurally dynamic, and whose members collaborate on a global task using ICTs (Gibbs, 2002; Maznevski & Chudoba, 2000). As virtual teams, they are both geographically distributed across multiple locations and dependent on computer-mediated communication (CMC) (Cohen & Gibson, 2003; Griﬃth, Sawyer & Neale, 2003; Lipnack & Stamps, 1997), though they may vary on the degree of each...
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