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“Virtual teams are literally and metaphorically invisible”: Forging identity in culturally diverse virtual teams

Yee Au (Department of Business Management, Heriot‐Watt University, Edinburgh, UK)
Abigail Marks (Department of Business Management, Heriot‐Watt University, Edinburgh, UK)

Employee Relations

ISSN: 0142-5455

Article publication date: 21 April 2012

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to examine the impact of perceived cultural differences in forging identity in virtual teams. Whilst there has been a great deal of research on team identification, little has been written about the influences of the virtual context on this process.

Design/methodology/approach

The study reported in this paper was conducted in four companies and seven virtual teams operating across the UK, the USA, Brazil, Singapore, Malaysia and Myanmar.

Findings

The results show that perceived differences in national cultures and the way people work within the cultures has a significant impact on identification in virtual teams. This can lead to unhealthy racial and national stereotypes, which cause conflict between team members. The findings of this study highlight the importance of encouraging team members to value and understand differences and that it is necessary to promote a common goal to foster identification in international virtual teams.

Originality/value

The research provides a critical analysis of virtual working across international boundaries, focusing on employees rather than the technology.

Keywords

Citation

Au, Y. and Marks, A. (2012), "“Virtual teams are literally and metaphorically invisible”: Forging identity in culturally diverse virtual teams", Employee Relations, Vol. 34 No. 3, pp. 271-287. https://doi.org/10.1108/01425451211217707

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited