Cross Cultural Collaboration

Cross Cultural Collaboration

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In this master thesis we argue that cultural differences and virtual collaboration leads to poorer group performance. The cultural differences in cross cultural teams causes misunderstandings, lower maturity in the team dynamics and puts a bigger burden on the group members when collaborating virtually. The geographical distance makes it difficult for the group members to get familiarized, which we in this thesis argue is an essential factor to achieve good collaboration in cross cultural virtual teams.
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In this master thesis we argue that cultural differences and virtual collaboration leads to poorer group performance. The cultural differences in cross cultural teams causes misunderstandings, lower maturity in the team dynamics and puts a bigger burden on the group members when collaborating virtually. The geographical distance makes it difficult for the group members to get familiarized, which we in this thesis argue is an essential factor to achieve good collaboration in cross cultural virtual teams.

This is important to understand because cross cultural virtual teams is becoming a bigger part of reality, and the intention behind this is often financially motivated. The technological innovations create opportunities for the Western World to reduce labor cost and meet the need for qualified labor by hiring eastern labor virtually, but our findings suggest that this compromises the group performance. It is therefore important that the management consider and understand the implications on group performance before taking this strategic decision.

Our understanding relies on this study, where we have seen amongst other things how differences in language and the way group members approach confrontations causes misunderstandings and disruption in communication. The study consists of a case study design conducted in AkerSolutions. The design is based on SPGR-studies of three Norwegian-Indian teams and three Norwegian teams, five interviews with Norwegian informants and three interviews of Indian informants and one observation of a Norwegian-Indian work meeting. The findings from this study show that Norwegian-Indian teams have a lower maturity than the Norwegian teams, and given the task they are faced with their interaction will be less effective and lead to a less satisfactory result compared to the Norwegian teams.

When we try to understand the performance of cross cultural virtual teams we use theory which says that the group’s ability to solve a particular task depends on the maturity of the group and the complexity of the task. To understand and explain the more specific challenges these teams meet we use theories about national culture and virtual collaboration.

At last, we suggest some practical recommendation on how to improve the collaboration, and hence, the performance in cross cultural virtual teams.

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