Saturday, June 2, 2012

Essay on Virtual Teams

Essay on Virtual Teams

In modern business, the cost of communications is frequently underestimated. Only the most visionary and experienced leaders fully realize the dangers of workplace communication problems and the immense potential effective communication holds for organizational effectiveness. The issue is especially topical in the light of accelerating internationalization and globalization of business activity. The development of ICTs has enabled the so-called “virtual teams” to work jointly on projects from different countries and sometimes even continents. Virtual teams, sometimes referred to as geographically dispersed teams, are groups of individuals working together separated by distance, time, and sometimes even organizational boundaries (Duarte & Snyder, 2006). While there are numerous technological applications designed specifically to enable virtual teams, the absence of face-to-face communication often poses significant threats for the functioning of such teams. Thus, virtual teams should be carefully guided by understanding and ethically skilled leaders, and well-defined procedures for resolution of conflicts and misunderstandings should be in place.


A fact frequently overlooked by business managers is that every small group has its own dynamics, be it a virtual or face-to-face team. However, with face-to-face teams, it is easier to detect the first signs of a failure of communication or serious disagreement among group members. It is a much more challenging task with regard to virtual teams. Moreover, the question remains whether “social capital [can] be built over communications technologies rather than through face-to-face interaction” (Gibson & Cohen, 2003, p. 10). Building social capital is the ultimate goal of any kind of communication: in both personal and professional settings, human beings communicate in order to develop trust and enhance community cohesion. In an organization where trust exits, employees are enabled to collaborate more efficiently, there is less interdepartmental competition and overlap, team members have an easier time delegating tasks to their colleagues, and employees’ personal goals are more aligned with those of the organization.

At the same time, when group members are not in a position to meet in person, “[c]ollective trust is challenged by the often prominent differences in culture and lack of face-to-face interaction in virtual teams” (Gibson & Cohen, 2003, p. 59). The term “culture” used in this sentence can be interpreted in two different ways: first of all, culture can be defined in conventional ethno-national terms; secondly, differences in organizational culture can undermine the effectiveness of virtual teams. As concerns the first definition, Krebs and Hobman (2006) carried out comprehensive research on what impact cultural, social, and demographic variables have on the effectiveness of workplace teams in general and virtual teams in particular. The issue of trust building in a diverse environment is always a complex and sensitive one, and it becomes even more complicated in online settings. Here it is important to keep in mind that different people have different perceptions (conditioned by their culture, prior experience, and a myriad of other factors), and different organization and even department have their own engendered work routines, informal practices, and approaches to problem solving. Open and honest communication is the best tool for preventing problems that usually originate from such differences.
Warning!!! All free online essays, sample essays and essay examples on Virtual Teams topics are plagiarized and cannot be completely used in your school, college or university education.

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