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When technological savviness overcomes cultural differences: millennials in global virtual teams

Andres Velez-Calle (Universidad EAFIT, Medellin, Colombia)
Misha Mariam (Foster School of Business, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA)
Maria Alejandra Gonzalez-Perez (Universidad EAFIT, Medellin, Colombia)
Alfredo Jimenez (Department of Management, Kedge Business School, Talence, France)
Julia Eisenberg (Department of Management and Management Science, Pace University, New York, USA)
Sandra Milena Santamaria-Alvarez (Universidad EAFIT, Medellin, Colombia)

Critical Perspectives on International Business

ISSN: 1742-2043

Article publication date: 27 February 2020

Issue publication date: 22 May 2020




There is a generalized belief that cultural differences can have more negative consequences than benefits within the international business (IB) literature. This study argues that cultural differences are not perceived as constrains in millennial global virtual teams (GVTs). Additionally, using the theory of cooperation and competition and the motivated information processing perspective, the purpose of this paper is to uncover the process by which millennials working in GVTs address various challenges to ensure effective functioning and accomplishment of desired team outcomes.


This paper analyzes a data set of 503 project journals from the global enterprise experience, a virtual team competition. It uses qualitative content analysis tools and secondary data sources.


The authors find that for millennials, cross-cultural issues are not the predominant challenge when working in GVTs, unlike the prevailing understanding in the IB literature. This is because contrary to expectations, cross-cultural problems are often not experienced, while other team phenomena become more relevant, such as interpersonal and task-based issues. In addition, the paper describes how members of GVTs apply distinct challenge reconstruction and solution generation cognitive schemes to deal with both, expected and unexpected challenges.


This study contributes to the literature on virtual teams by identifying how millennials and post-millennials deal with the challenges embedded in the GVT interaction context by simplifying the unfamiliarity associated with the broader context rather than addressing each issue in isolation. Finally, the paper elaborates on factors that highlight the positive outcomes of multicultural teams while making cultural differences less salient in contemporary GVT contexts.



The authors would like to express their gratitude to the reviewers and editors of CPOIB; undergraduate students at Universidad EAFIT; reviewers at AIB, and AIB-LAC conferences; Global Enterprise Experience (Deb Gilbertson and Virginia Cathro) and Deborah Dougherty, who contributed to this study in different stages.


Velez-Calle, A., Mariam, M., Gonzalez-Perez, M.A., Jimenez, A., Eisenberg, J. and Santamaria-Alvarez, S.M. (2020), "When technological savviness overcomes cultural differences: millennials in global virtual teams", Critical Perspectives on International Business, Vol. 16 No. 3, pp. 279-303.



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