Challenges of managing communication within virtual intercultural teams

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The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at www.emeraldinsight.com/1352-7592.htm The challenges of managing cross-cultural virtual project teams Margaret Oertig and Thomas Buergi

Managing crosscultural virtual project teams
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University of Applied Sciences, Basel, Switzerland
Abstract
Purpose – This paper seeks to present the challenges reported by project leaders of cross-cultural geographically distributed, or virtual project teams operating within the matrix organisation of ABC, a multinational company based in Switzerland.
Design/methodology/approach – The research is qualitative and exploratory, taking the form of inductive thematic analysis.
Findings – The key themes reported to be
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Many of the project team representatives also lead a sub-team in their own field or function, and these sub-teams also work virtually.
Study aims and methodology
The study had two aims. The first was to discover what project leaders perceived as the main challenges arising from managing international teams working in geographically distributed locations, and second, how they managed these challenges. This paper outlines the main themes which emerged from a thematic analysis of interview data, summarising areas of difficulty and how the project leadership deal with these. The research is qualitative and exploratory, taking the form of inductive thematic analysis. The themes emerged from the qualitative data collected.
Interviews were conducted at two sites, in Switzerland and the USA, with six project leaders, six project managers and two ex-project leaders, who are now product area heads. Background interviews were also conducted with three members of senior management responsible for strategic planning, innovation management and executive information systems. Ten interviewees were based in Switzerland and seven in the USA. The nationalities of the interviewees were as follows: three
Americans, four British, four Swiss, three German, one French, one French- Canadian and one Japanese. Nine interviewees were male and eight were female.
Interpretation of results
Interviews were coded for key themes and three major themes emerged as

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