- Julia C. GluesingJulia C. GluesingWayne State University
Global teams have become a basic building block for organizing work that crosses geographic boundaries. They are an alternative to more traditional forms of hierarchy-based organizing and form the foundation of what is becoming known as the global networked organization. Global teams connect people who are geographically dispersed and work together on specific projects or tasks, crossing national, cultural, organizational, and linguistic boundaries. While global teams hold promise for organizing global work, they face conditions of complexity: (1) a multiplicity of different cultural contexts, governmental requirements, and multiple diverse stakeholders; (2) interdependence brought about by global flows of capital, information, and value chains; and, (3) ambiguity of meanings despite the fact that there is plenty of information. Management scholars have conducted most of the research about global teams from 1990 to 2018. These studies have shed light on global teaming processes, including communication and collaboration, facilitation and brokerage, leadership, language and identity, shared meaning, trust, power, national and organizational culture, distance, time, and technology. Some of the factors shown to improve global team effectiveness are as follows: a clear mission and objectives, explicit expectations for members’ roles and responsibilities, facilitating relationships among team members that leads to shared knowledge and a team identity, managing cultural, language and other contextual challenges, and monitoring and managing changing environmental conditions. While knowledge has grown about how global teams function, there is still much to learn about the complexity of multilevel cultural interactions in global teams and how different influence factors interact to affect performance. In-depth, longitudinal studies by anthropologists can provide such insights. The role of anthropologists is to assist the development of global teams by bringing nuance to the ways culture manifests in team member interactions and how social relationships are enacted and understood. Anthropologists can help build a richer understanding of contextual influences and the perceptions embedded in culture that shape sense-making across multiple contexts.
- Applied Anthropology