Working With a Multicultural Virtual Team

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Due to its global presence the idea for a multicultural virtual team to Nike Company is generally good. However there are inherent significant challenges that face global virtual teams. Investigating the challenges faced by multicultural virtual teams, Vinaja found out that these problems include communication breakdowns, possible conflicts among the members, time delays in replies, limited hours of the team work, lack of synergy in multicultural teams and different holidays. Various research sums up the challenges to communication, culture, project management and technology (Vinaja 2003). These are the same challenges that may face Nike multicultural virtual team. Though all of the members of the virtual team speak English Communication breakdown may occur due to the combination of first English speakers and second English speakers. Team members from England may speak with a plain queen’s ascent while Brazilians, Indians and Chinese English may be heavily interrupted by local ascent that sometimes may be disturbing. Language barrier will affect negatively to all of the four stages (forming, storming, norming, performing) of Tuckman’s team development model (Blair)

Due to geographical disparities, the team may suffer from time differences. Setting a convenient hour for the team to telecommute may derail the functioning of the team owing to the different in time zones. Whereas it may be working hours in US, it may be wee hours in china and India. Thus for this team some of the members will be forced to sacrifice for the team to have a common time to interact. The other possible problem is technology barrier. Not all of the team members will have equal access to new communications infrastructure like ISDN and updated software. More so free interaction with outer world is highly sanctioned by some states like china. More problems may arise due to slow computers, incompatible networks and traffic on the network (Mihhailova & Piiriste 2004).

Cultural difference may also have a great overbearing in the functioning of the group. Different cultures have different working methods, decision making practices and way of measuring success. For instance while Americans may be fast in decision making, Asian cultures tend to be slow but sure. Thus borrowing from Tuckman’s team development model, norming stage may experience difficulties in decision making. Furthermore, confrontation of different cultures can lead to misunderstanding between different cultures causing distrust to one another (Mihhailova & Piiriste 2004).beside these challenges, there are also common challenge arising from management of virtual team. A virtual manager of this team will be faced y the daunting task of ensuring that all members interact freely and effectively across all networks.

For multicultural teams to function smoothly, these challenges must be overcome. First of all the members should understand and appreciate each others culture. Appreciating each others culture will allow members to interact freely and understand the working behavior of others. In this case an American national may not master Chinese norm but developing a positive attitude towards Chinese or Indians culture is crucial for the smooth functioning of the team (Noorderhaven, 1997). The group can overcome mistrust by cultivating honesty and dependability among members and maintaining good communication and interpersonal skills.

Discussing ways of making a virtual team work, Grazier laments that motivation is a key ingredient in overcoming challenges. Maintaining a clear mission (feasibility of an inexpensive shoe), good leadership, developing good comradeship among members of the team, feel of outcome responsibility by all members, ensuring growth for members both as a team and in their personal lives and the challenge of the task at hand can be used as motivation factors to overcome the challenges(Grazier 1998). These challenges can be further overcome by constant recognition among the members of the virtual team, availing opportunities for continuous learning, involvement of all the members in crucial decision making and recognizing the members in other company’s activities (Evans et al (2005).

Developing a virtual work team compared to team of people located centrally has gained prominence in current global businesses. A multicultural virtual team draws its benefits from how it is composed. Virtual teams are characterized by cultural diversity that includes different professionals, nationalities, corporate and individuals cutting across different organization cultures (Bauer, & Erdogan, 2009). As opposed to people working at the same space, members of a virtual time are physically separated either by space and time. While members of a virtual team interact electronically with limited face to face interaction, members of a centrally located team are bound by face to face interaction.

By developing a virtual team, Nike company seek to tap the strength of different nationalities not limited by geographical location. The process of developing inexpensive shoe to be sold in Brazil requires international input that cannot be realized at headquarters office. Forming a multicultural virtual team will help Nike Company tap the emerging market by introducing unique products to different countries like inexpensive shoes specifically for Brazil (Fischlmayr & Lahteenmaki (2005). Compared to centrally located team, a multicultural virtual team has become less expensive and more possible thank to technology advancement. The increasing velocity in business has also worked in favor of virtual teams that are less time wasting compared to centrally located teams.

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Working With a Multicultural Virtual Team

This article was published on 2012/03/30