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1 Cultural Considerations ETM5361/MSIS5600 Managing Virtual Project Teams Nicholas C. Romano, Jr., Ph.D. Paul E. Rossler,

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Presentation on theme: "1 Cultural Considerations ETM5361/MSIS5600 Managing Virtual Project Teams Nicholas C. Romano, Jr., Ph.D. Paul E. Rossler,"— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Cultural Considerations ETM5361/MSIS5600 Managing Virtual Project Teams Nicholas C. Romano, Jr., Ph.D. Paul E. Rossler, Ph.D., P.E.

2 2 Overview What types or dimensions of culture are encountered in virtual teams?What types or dimensions of culture are encountered in virtual teams? Is culture a management variable or is it a constraint more often than not?Is culture a management variable or is it a constraint more often than not? What is alignment?What is alignment? What makes alignment difficult to achieve in general and in virtual teams in particular?What makes alignment difficult to achieve in general and in virtual teams in particular?

3 3 What is culture? “People in organizations, as in social life generally, generate ideologies that tell them what is, how it got that way, and what ought to be. Such ideologies form the substance of cultures. They are not rationally based belief systems. Rather they are relatively implicit sets of taken-for granted beliefs, values, and norms.” (Trice and Beyer, The Cultures of Work Organizations, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1993, p. 2)

4 4 Margaret Mead’s Definition of Culture Shared patterns of behaviorShared patterns of behavior –Coming of Age in Samoa, 1953 Behavioral definitionBehavioral definition –Same behavior can have different significance –Different types of behavior can have the same meaning, for example, eye contact Observation not sufficient to detect differencesObservation not sufficient to detect differences

5 5 Schein’s Definition of Culture Shared solutions to universal problems of external adaptation (how to survive) and internal integration (how to stay together) which have evolved over time and are handed down from one generation to the next –Schein, 1985

6 6 Geertz’s definition of culture Systems of shared meaning or understandingSystems of shared meaning or understanding Meaning expressed as value and attitudeMeaning expressed as value and attitude –underlying assumptions are not always clear –culture is a code must be broken to understand itmust be broken to understand it Culture is ”thick”Culture is ”thick”

7 7 Functional Culture EngineeringEngineering Software DevelopmentSoftware Development Research and DevelopmentResearch and Development Sales and MarketingSales and Marketing Production and ManufacturingProduction and Manufacturing

8 8 “The Alien from Outer Space” Exercise Imagine that an alien spacecraft is hovering over your workplace, collecting data on the decisions people make and the behaviors they exhibit toward one another and customers. As part of his (or her or its) 4 th grade science project, the alien must submit a report that lists the rules that seem to be guiding people’s decisions and behaviors. What rules do you think would be found on that list?

9 9 Example rules Company A Share your ideas because; you’ll get credit for themShare your ideas because; you’ll get credit for them He who does the best work gets rewardedHe who does the best work gets rewarded Tell it like it isTell it like it is Company B Play it close to the vest; information is power He who does the best work gets the most work Shoot the messenger

10 10 Culture has long been considered a part of the teamwork equation FormingForming StormingStorming NormingNorming PerformingPerforming Note that culture is not a value-laden term. A team’s culture can facilitate effective teamwork as easily as it can inhibit effective teamwork.

11 11 Form Cross- FunctionalProductDevelopmentTeams Integration of Diverse Skills Willingness to Cooperate Access to Information and Resources Top Management’s Tolerance for Delays and Failures Level of Interpersonal Trust Comfort Level With Changes Team Leadership Culture Propensity to Experiment and Adapt (Based on Jassawalla, A.R. and H.C. Sashittal, 1999)

12 12 Types or categories of cultures that can affect virtual teams NationalNational OrganizationalOrganizational FunctionalFunctional

13 13 Dimensions of National Culture Power distancePower distance Uncertainty avoidanceUncertainty avoidance Individualism-collectivismIndividualism-collectivism Masculinity-femininityMasculinity-femininity Long term-short termLong term-short term High or low contextHigh or low context (Source: Hofstede and Hall as presented in Duarte and Snyder, 2001)

14 14 Types or categories of cultures that affect virtual teams National - “collective mental programming” of the people of any particular nationalityNational - “collective mental programming” of the people of any particular nationality “inherited ethical habit” that can consist of an idea or value, or of a relationship Organizational - management styles, appraisals, rewards, and communication styles used by employees.Organizational - management styles, appraisals, rewards, and communication styles used by employees.

15 15 Professional - ingrained through highly structured formal education during formative years and continued through training programs.Professional - ingrained through highly structured formal education during formative years and continued through training programs. Functional - norms and habits associated with functional roles within the organization, such as marketing, R&D, and manufacturing.Functional - norms and habits associated with functional roles within the organization, such as marketing, R&D, and manufacturing. Team - emerges from bonding through common work experiences.Team - emerges from bonding through common work experiences.

16 16 Hofstede’s Dimensions of National Culture Power DistancePower Distance Uncertainty AvoidanceUncertainty Avoidance Individualism-CollectivismIndividualism-Collectivism Masculinity-FemininityMasculinity-Femininity Long term-Short termLong term-Short term High or Low contextHigh or Low context (Source: Hofstede and Hall as presented in Duarte and Snyder, 2001)

17 17 Lessen and Nebulae - effect of national culture  Pragmatism that is a dominant influence in the conceptualizing of management principles and practice.  Rationalism that is defined as a theory, which regards reason than sense as the foundation of certainty in knowledge.  Idealism/Holism that is something made up of parts in combination, a complex unity or system.  Humanism that defined as pertaining to the social life or collective relations of mankind.

18 18 Lewis differentiates mono- and polychronic cultures Monochronic cultures that act in a focused manner, concentrating on one thing at a time within a set time scaleMonochronic cultures that act in a focused manner, concentrating on one thing at a time within a set time scale Polychronic cultures that are flexible and unconstrained by concerns with timePolychronic cultures that are flexible and unconstrained by concerns with time

19 19 Trompenaars National Cultural Parameters Universalism vs. Particularism: The universalist approach is to say that what is good and right applies everywhere, while the particularist emphasizes the obligations of relationships.Universalism vs. Particularism: The universalist approach is to say that what is good and right applies everywhere, while the particularist emphasizes the obligations of relationships. Collectivism vs. Individualism: Similar to Hofstede’s model.Collectivism vs. Individualism: Similar to Hofstede’s model. Neutral vs. Emotional: Some cultures are affective in that they show emotions while others are neutral, control and subdue their emotionsNeutral vs. Emotional: Some cultures are affective in that they show emotions while others are neutral, control and subdue their emotions

20 20 Specific vs. Diffuse: In specific oriented cultures the manager separates the work relationships with subordinates from other dealings with them.Specific vs. Diffuse: In specific oriented cultures the manager separates the work relationships with subordinates from other dealings with them. Status: While some cultures give status on the basis of achievement, others ascribe it on the basis of age, class, gender, education, etc.Status: While some cultures give status on the basis of achievement, others ascribe it on the basis of age, class, gender, education, etc. Sequential vs. Synchronic: In the former cultures time is treated as a sequence of events while on later cultures a number of events are juggled at the same time.Sequential vs. Synchronic: In the former cultures time is treated as a sequence of events while on later cultures a number of events are juggled at the same time.

21 21 Inner-Directed vs. Outer-Directed: The former cultures believe that they can and should control nature while the later go along with nature.Inner-Directed vs. Outer-Directed: The former cultures believe that they can and should control nature while the later go along with nature.

22 22 Hall’s Five Dimensions of National Culture Space: Different cultures have different attitudes towards space. Social distance or bubbles vary by culture.Space: Different cultures have different attitudes towards space. Social distance or bubbles vary by culture. Material Goods: Such goods are used for power and status.Material Goods: Such goods are used for power and status. Friendship: Interpersonal relationships vary considerably across cultures.Friendship: Interpersonal relationships vary considerably across cultures.

23 23 Time: Linear time cultures take time and deadlines very seriously, in a very rationalist sense. Time is structured, sequential and linear.Time: Linear time cultures take time and deadlines very seriously, in a very rationalist sense. Time is structured, sequential and linear. Agreement: Expressing agreement and disagreement varies by culture. In some cultures the detailed written contract is essential to agreement, while in others a handshake is sufficient.Agreement: Expressing agreement and disagreement varies by culture. In some cultures the detailed written contract is essential to agreement, while in others a handshake is sufficient.

24 24 Fukuyama – Trust and Culture  Low Trust societies can organize workplace on a more flexible and group- oriented basis - responsibility delegated to lower levels of the organization  High Trust societies must fence in and isolate their workers with a series of bureaucratic rules

25 25 Overview of National Cultural Models

26 26 Dimensions of Organizational Culture Clan vs. marketClan vs. market –“Relationship” oriented vs. results oriented Hierarchy vs. adhocracyHierarchy vs. adhocracy –Procedures vs. adaptive (Source: Cameron and Quinn as presented in Duarte and Snyder, 2001)

27 27 Functional Culture EngineeringEngineering Software DevelopmentSoftware Development Research and DevelopmentResearch and Development Sales and MarketingSales and Marketing Production and ManufacturingProduction and Manufacturing

28 28 Is culture a given or is it a variable or is it both? Ontogenetic HypothesisOntogenetic Hypothesis –More compatible with current culture, greater likelihood of effective implementation and use Cultural Lag HypothesisCultural Lag Hypothesis –Changes in the social dimensions of culture typically lag behind changes in the technological (material) dimensions

29 29 A Framework for Using Cultural Models Dimensions in Virtual Teams

30 30 Possible “cultural states” 2 6 x 2 2 x 5 1 = 1,280 National – 6 variables, 2 states Organizational - 2 variables, 2 states Functional – 1 variable, 5 states Functional – 1 variable, 5 states

31 31 Personality also plays a role Heredity and experience (nature v. nurture)Heredity and experience (nature v. nurture) –Nature can be reinforced or mitigated by nurture (and vice versa) Jung’s typology (Myers-Briggs)Jung’s typology (Myers-Briggs) –Introvert-extrovert –Thinking-feeling –Sensing-intuitive –Perceiving-judgmental

32 32 Some teams’ cultures are better than others At-stakenessAt-stakeness TransparencyTransparency MindfulnessMindfulness SynergySynergy In other words, team members are “aligned” Source: Jassawalla, A.R. and H.C. Sashittal, Building collaborative cross- functional product teams. Academy of Management Executive, (3): p

33 33 What is alignment? The textbook definition “The condition where appropriate project participants are working within accepted tolerances to develop and meet a uniformly defined and understood set of project objectives.” Griffith, A. F. and G.E. Gibson (2001). "Alignment during pre-project planning." Journal of Management in Engineering 17(2):

34 34 The word on the street… “Everyone rowing in the same direction singing from the same sheet of music and being on the same page.” Griffith, A. F. and G.E. Gibson (2001). "Alignment during pre-project planning." Journal of Management in Engineering 17(2):

35 35 Conversion Implementation Strategic Tactical Operational Definition & Design Cross-Functional Team Conceptual Planning Intra-Organizational Project Alignment Cross-Phase Vertical Adapted from Griffith and Gibson (2001)

36 36 Inter-Organizational Project-Team Alignment Organization A Cross- Functional Cross-Phase Cross-Phase Team Team Vertical Vertical Organization B Goal Implementation

37 37 Hypothesized Goal Alignment Drivers InterventionsCommunication Shared Goals TrustLeadership Team Structure Meeting Structure and Facilitation Risk/Reward Sharing Mech. Team Building Use of Planning Tools (Source: Romano, Moran, and Rossler, 2003)

38 38 Hypothesized Implementation Alignment Drivers InterventionsCommunicationCoordinationLeadership Conflict resolution Team Structure Meeting Structure and Facilitation Project Procedures Use of IT (Source: Romano, Moran, and Rossler, 2003)

39 39 Summary Culture influences virtual team performanceCulture influences virtual team performance Virtual teams often cut across different national, organizational, and functional culturesVirtual teams often cut across different national, organizational, and functional cultures Achieving goal and implementation alignment is challengingAchieving goal and implementation alignment is challenging How to influence culture in reliable, predictable ways is a matter of uncertaintyHow to influence culture in reliable, predictable ways is a matter of uncertainty


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