Chapter 6. 6 SPECIAL CASES: VIRTUAL AND GLOBAL TEAMS

We don't see things as they are; we see things as we are.

Anaïs Nin

Changes in the global business environment, technology, and organizational structures have created new and challenging environments for teams. These challenges include learning how to deal with confl ict in a variety of circumstances. Here, we examine two types of teams that have become increasingly prevalent and encounter a number of special confl ict issues: virtual teams and global teams.

Virtual teams, which are sometimes also called distributed teams or e-teams, have members who are separated by distance and have to rely on technology for their communications (Zaccaro and Bader, 2003). Global teams, also referred to as multicultural teams, consist of members from different cultural backgrounds. These cultures have characteristic ways of thinking and responding to issues that are shared among members of the group but often differ from other cultures (Gibson and Manuel, 2003). Frequently teams contain both virtual and multicultural elements. Global teams, out of necessity, communicate through technological means. Many virtual and traditional teams have growing diversity, drawing members from different cultural backgrounds.

Virtual and global teams have many things in common with traditional teams: they need to work together to accomplish common goals, have to be able to get the best out of diversity, and avoid the downsides of relationship conflict. They face ...

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