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Handbook of Research in International Human Resource Management

Edited by Günter K. Stahl and Ingmar Björkman

In providing an insightful overview of a wide range of global human resource issues facing MNCs, this pathbreaking Handbook highlights emergent topics and new research findings that could shape the field of future IHRM research. Theoretical discussion of the variables and processes that affect IHRM policies and practices is provided by renowned contributors with widely differing academic backgrounds, paradigmatic orientations, and theoretical and methodological approaches.
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Chapter 19: Global Virtual Team Dynamics and Effectiveness

Martha Maznevski, Sue Canney Davison and Karsten Jonsen


365 In this chapter we begin with some important definitions. We then identify the challenges raised by virtual teams, with particular focus on global virtual teams. We argue that resolving these challenges depends on an understanding of some important contingency factors and how they affect processes in these teams, and we follow this by identifying the success factors for managing these contingencies and obtaining high performance. We look briefly into the future and speculate on the potential of virtual teams to change the management of global organizations. We close with some recommendations for further research. Virtual teams are groups of people who (a) work together using communications technology more often than face-to-face; (b) are distributed across space; (c) are responsible for a joint outcome and usually (d) work on strategic or technically advanced tasks; and (e) are multifunctional and/or multicultural. Most people focus on the first element of this definition: the use of technology. However, as we will show, each element of this definition is related to the challenges and contingencies faced by teams, and performance can only be explained by their combination. Virtual teams face many challenges Any kind of team faces well established challenges such as identifying clear common purpose, roles and responsibilities, creating a sense of team identity and urgency and commitment to deadlines. Specific challenges for virtual teams can range across a broad spectrum, such as access to and comfortableness with technology, technological support and online facilitation, getting team members...

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