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Cultural Considerations ETM5361/MSIS5600 Managing Virtual Project Teams. Nicholas C. Romano, Jr., Ph.D. Nicholas-Romano@mstm.okstate.edu Paul E. Rossler, Ph.D., P.E. prossle@okstate.edu. Overview. What types or dimensions of culture are encountered in virtual teams?

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Cultural considerations etm5361 msis5600 managing virtual project teams

Cultural Considerations ETM5361/MSIS5600Managing Virtual Project Teams

Nicholas C. Romano, Jr., Ph.D.

Nicholas-Romano@mstm.okstate.eduPaul E. Rossler, Ph.D., P.E.

prossle@okstate.edu


Overview
Overview

  • 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?

  • What is alignment?

  • What makes alignment difficult to achieve in general and in virtual teams in particular?


What is culture
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)


Margaret mead s definition of culture
Margaret Mead’s Definition of Culture

  • Shared patterns of behavior

    • Coming of Age in Samoa, 1953

  • Behavioral 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 differences


Schein s definition of culture
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


Geertz s definition of culture
Geertz’s definition of culture

  • Systems of shared meaning or understanding

  • Meaning expressed as value and attitude

    • underlying assumptions are not always clear

    • culture is a code

      • must be broken to understand it

  • Culture is ”thick”


Functional culture
Functional Culture

  • Engineering

  • Software Development

  • Research and Development

  • Sales and Marketing

  • Production and Manufacturing


The alien from outer space exercise
“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) 4th 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?


Example rules

Company A

Share your ideas because; you’ll get credit for them

He who does the best work gets rewarded

Tell 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

Example rules


Culture has long been considered a part of the teamwork equation
Culture has long been considered a part of the teamwork equation

  • Forming

  • Storming

  • Norming

  • Performing

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.


Cultural considerations etm5361 msis5600 managing virtual project teams

Willingness to equation

Cooperate

Level of Interpersonal Trust

Propensity to Experiment and Adapt

Comfort Level

With Changes

Form Cross-

Functional

Product

Development

Teams

Integration of

Diverse Skills

Culture

Team Leadership

Top Management’s

Tolerance for Delays

and Failures

Access to Information

and Resources

(Based on Jassawalla, A.R. and H.C. Sashittal, 1999)


Types or categories of cultures that can affect virtual teams
Types or categories of cultures that can affect virtual teams

  • National

  • Organizational

  • Functional


Dimensions of national culture
Dimensions of National Culture teams

  • Power distance

  • Uncertainty avoidance

  • Individualism-collectivism

  • Masculinity-femininity

  • Long term-short term

  • High or low context

(Source: Hofstede and Hall as presented in Duarte and Snyder, 2001)


Types or categories of cultures that affect virtual teams
Types or categories of cultures that affect virtual teams teams

  • National - “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.


Cultural considerations etm5361 msis5600 managing virtual project teams

  • Professional teams - 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.

  • Team - emerges from bonding through common work experiences.


Hofstede s dimensions of national culture
Hofstede’s Dimensions of National Culture teams

  • Power Distance

  • Uncertainty Avoidance

  • Individualism-Collectivism

  • Masculinity-Femininity

  • Long term-Short term

  • High or Low context

(Source: Hofstede and Hall as presented in Duarte and Snyder, 2001)


Lessen and nebulae effect of national culture
Lessen and Nebulae - effect of national culture teams

  • 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/Holismthat 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.


Lewis differentiates mono and polychronic cultures
Lewis differentiates mono- and polychronic cultures teams

  • Monochronic 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 time


Trompenaars national cultural parameters
Trompenaars National Cultural Parameters teams

  • 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.

  • Neutral vs. Emotional: Some cultures are affective in that they show emotions while others are neutral, control and subdue their emotions


Cultural considerations etm5361 msis5600 managing virtual project teams

  • Specific vs. Diffuse teams: 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.

  • 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.


Cultural considerations etm5361 msis5600 managing virtual project teams


Hall s five dimensions of national culture
Hall’s Five Dimensions of National Culture teams

  • 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.

  • Friendship: Interpersonal relationships vary considerably across cultures.


Cultural considerations etm5361 msis5600 managing virtual project teams

  • Time teams: 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.


Fukuyama trust and culture
Fukuyama – Trust and Culture teams

  • Low Trustsocieties can organize workplace on a more flexible and group-oriented basis - responsibility delegated to lower levels of the organization

  • High Trustsocieties must fence in and isolate their workers with a series of bureaucratic rules



Dimensions of organizational culture
Dimensions of teamsOrganizational Culture

  • Clan vs. market

    • “Relationship” oriented vs. results oriented

  • Hierarchy vs. adhocracy

    • Procedures vs. adaptive

(Source: Cameron and Quinn as presented in Duarte and Snyder, 2001)


Functional culture1
Functional Culture teams

  • Engineering

  • Software Development

  • Research and Development

  • Sales and Marketing

  • Production and Manufacturing


Is culture a given or is it a variable or is it both
Is culture a given or is it a variable or is it both? teams

  • Ontogenetic Hypothesis

    • More compatible with current culture, greater likelihood of effective implementation and use

  • Cultural Lag Hypothesis

    • Changes in the social dimensions of culture typically lag behind changes in the technological (material) dimensions


A framework for using cultural models dimensions in virtual teams
A Framework for Using teamsCultural Models Dimensions in Virtual Teams


Possible cultural states
Possible “cultural states” teams

26 x 22 x 51 = 1,280

National – 6 variables, 2 states

Organizational - 2 variables, 2 states

Functional – 1 variable, 5 states


Personality also plays a role
Personality also plays a role teams

  • Heredity and experience (nature v. nurture)

    • Nature can be reinforced or mitigated by nurture (and vice versa)

  • Jung’s typology (Myers-Briggs)

    • Introvert-extrovert

    • Thinking-feeling

    • Sensing-intuitive

    • Perceiving-judgmental


Some teams cultures are better than others
Some teams’ cultures are better than others teams

  • At-stakeness

  • Transparency

  • Mindfulness

  • Synergy

    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, 1999. 13(3): p. 50-63.


What is alignment the textbook definition
What is alignment? teamsThe 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): 69-76.

Griffith, A. F. and G.E. Gibson (2001). "Alignment during pre-project planning." Journal of Management in Engineering 17(2): 69-76.


The word on the street
The word on the street… teams

“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): 69-76.


Intra organizational project alignment
Intra-Organizational Project Alignment teams

Team

Conversion

Implementation

Strategic

Definition

& Design

Vertical

Tactical

Cross-Phase

Planning

Operational

Conceptual

Adapted from Griffith and Gibson (2001)

Cross-Functional


Inter organizational project team alignment
Inter-Organizational Project-Team Alignment teams

Team

Organization A

Vertical

Cross-Phase

Implementation

Cross-Functional

Team

Organization B

Goal

Vertical

Cross-Phase

Cross-Functional




Summary
Summary teams

  • Culture influences virtual team performance

  • Virtual teams often cut across different national, organizational, and functional cultures

  • Achieving goal and implementation alignment is challenging

  • How to influence culture in reliable, predictable ways is a matter of uncertainty