The current world of business features stiff competition that leaves organizations utilizing various strategies to endure reduced pressure. Among the strategies employed by larger organizations is that of going global, which entails presence in multiple nations. This move calls for the use of global teams as a strategic human resource solution (Kerber and Buono, 2004). By definition, the term global teams refer to the creation of a workforce comprised of people from different geographical, temporal, and cultural backgrounds, who are then distributed across nations where the company operates, forming its human resource pool. A well-structured global team presents diverse benefits to an organization in terms of enhancing organizational innovation and performance. It enables the taping of expertise to serve different sections of the organization, increase efficiency, enable the company work 24/7 across time zones, and lowers its costs by making sure that it accesses local markets and customers without physically travelling (Gluesing & Gibson, 2004). Additionally, global teams create a platform for the exchange of ideas and perspectives between the team members, which benefits the organization by offering quality outcomes and solutions (Kayworth and Leidner, 2000). However, while global teams offer great promise for organizational leaders in terms of enabling the organization to serve on a global level, they are, however, burdened with significant management difficulties, especially that of coordination and collaboration of work. This paper seeks to identify the common challenges faced by managers in directing global teams today. Through scrutiny of the literature materials that addressed the issue, gaps will be identified, which will form the basis of the current research.
The main question that this research seeks to answer is: what are the main challengers of managing global teams faced in the current corporate world and what are their remedies?
A number of specific (secondary) research questions will also guide this study. They include the following:
1. Is there any relationship between regional differences and the effective delivery of managerial task by managers of multinational organizations?
2. What rational measures can be implemented in multinational organizations to curb challenges in managing their global teams and enable virtual team effectiveness?
3.What is the nature of the relationship between management styles and successful management of global teams?
The main objective of this research is to empirically identify the main challengers of managing global teams faced in the current corporate world and their remedies.
The managerial challenges exhibited in multinational organizations. Specific research objectives include the following.
1. To find out whether there exists a relationship between regional differences and the effective delivery of managerial task by managers of multinational organizations.
2. To identify the rational measures that can be implemented in multinational organizations to curb challenges faced by managers in their managing of their global teams and enable the effectiveness of virtual teams.
3. To identify the nature of relationship between management styles and the success/failure of the management of their global teams.
In this study, the researcher will precisely investigate the challenges faced by managers of multinational organizations in managing global teams or workers located in different parts of the globe and working for the same company. Other challenges faced by multinational organizations’ leaders will not be included. The research will be carried out in five organizations located in New York City. These include American Express, Colgate-Palmolive, Pfizer, Morgan Stanley and NASDAQ, Inc. Only managers and workers will take part in the study.
Literature posits a myriad of challenges faced by managers in coordinating their global teams. A majority of studies suggest that the management of global teams is faced with significant challenges, which fall into four major areas namely geographical, communication, culture, technology, and performance evaluation (Kayworth, Timothy and Leidner 2000). In his research, Cummings (2004) associates the management of global teams with the problem of geographical humps, which gives rise to the problem or difficulties in building sustainable trust. This is aggravated by the fact that the manager and the teams are mostly separated by geographical barriers, making it hard for the manager to trust that the team is delivering as required and as reported.
Cummings and Haas (2012) describe time difference as another problem curtailing the management of global teams. Synchronizing the activities become elusive for managers of multinational organizations since teams located in different countries will serve under different time zones, which presents an obstacle. For instance, scheduling a common meeting to address or communicate a common problem may prove impossible or direly tasking (Cummings, 2004). Another challenge in managing global teams is as described by Cramton and Hinds (2004), which is the cost involved. Unlike a local team which a manager can interact frequently with his/her teams, the manager for a global teams cannot effectively interact with each employee (or team member) since most of the times s/he will only have time to communicate with their supervisors, as communicating with every team member daily may prove to be extremely costly. Meanwhile, if the manager requires to personally oversee the teams’ progress, it may require him/her to travel to different parts of the country to engage with the teams. This costs the company a lot of resources in terms of time and money (Cumming and Haas, 2012).
Technological barriers also challenge the management of global teams (Govindarajan and Gupta, 2002). Some global regions have not yet upgraded to sufficient communication infrastructures, which may hamper the efficiency in access or communication between teams and the management. The teams may, thus submit to failure during desperate moments, which might have required critical support from the management.
Kerber and Buono (2004) in their research observed that the greatest challenge in managing global teams is that of cultural differences, among which include language barrier. People in different parts of the globe speak different languages, which others cannot comprehend. Coordinating teams which subscribe to distinct languages is tasking. This might require the hiring of an interpreter, who may chose to deliver the wrong message, leading to chaos (Connaughton and Shuffler, 2007). Meanwhile, members of different cultural groups subscribe to different cultural identities, stereotypes and other differences that may source misunderstanding between the teams, making it hard for the manager to coordinate their activities. According to Gibson (2004), evaluating the performance of each member of the global teams is tasking and many times elusive. The full evaluation of a team member can only be possible physically and not virtually. The weekly or monthly reports received by managers from team leaders may not be real, which wholesomely challenges the management. The reliance on sub-team supervisors’ review report might not be all-satisfactory to the manager (Connaughton and Shuffler, 2007).
While literature has offered extensive information about the challenges of managing global teams, there lacks adequate insight on the approaches that may assist in overcoming these challenges and assist global teams to function successfully. It may also be incorrect to assume that all multinational organizations of today face these challenges as previous literature reports.
The mixed method research design will be utilized in this study. According to Creswell and Clark (2007), the mixed study design refers to a study approach, which incorporates the elements of both the qualitative and quantitative study designs. This design is chosen for this study because of the strengths the mixed study approach harbors over qualitative and quantitative designs if purely conducted.
By employing the aspect of both quantitative and qualitative research and data in one study, the researcher will gain the following benefit. The incorporation of the two approaches helps offset the weaknesses of each, while further strengthening the inherent strength of each approach. Secondly, the use of both approaches helps in validation of the end results. Each of the approaches helps provide additional evidence in support of the other, and thus, validate the overall findings of the study. For instance, the combining of the methodologies assists in the reducing of the personal biases of the researcher, which might be present in one, while using either the qualitative or quantitative methodology alone. A major drawback of the mixed study is that it may prove to be costly, tasking and time consuming.
Data will be collected using two tools: the questionnaire and interview guide/schedule, where questionnaire will majorly collect quantitative data, while interviews will be used to collect qualitative data. Before the onset of the exercise, all respondents will be informed of the purpose of the study and be assured that participation is voluntary. This is in adherence to ethics of research participation (Gregory, 2003).
Questionnaires containing both structured and semi-structured items will be issued to respondents mainly by hand, though others will be issued through email to respondents if so requested. Respondents will be allowed a few hours (up to 5 hours) to fill the surveys after which the researcher will collect the filled questionnaires. For questionnaires disseminated through email, the respondents will be allowed up to two days to feel and send them back. An interview guide containing 12 semi-structured items will be used to interview each of the selected respondents. Each interview will be tape-recorded in the consent of the respondent. An interview with one respondent will take a maximum of 35 minutes. The whole data collection phase is expected to consume a maximum of 16 days.
Data collection will be followed by a 6-days data entry and analysis phases. Quantitative data will be entered and analyzed in Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS). Results will be presented using charts and tables. Recorded qualitative data will be first transcribed and thematic and concept analysis conducted and results interpreted. Data analysis, interpretation and presentation phase is expected to take a maximum of 7 days.
The study population for this study comprises of managers and members of the global teams working in the five multinational corporations mentioned above. Random sampling criterion will be used in the selection of respondents. According to Creswell and Clark (2007), random sampling refers to a sampling-by-chance strategy, where each member of population has an equal chance of being included among subjects of research.
The sample size of the study will be 80, comprising of 50 managers and 30 workers working in regional branches of the five corporations. A higher number of managers compared to workers is because managers are in a better position to explain challenges that they face while managing global teams than the workers. The sample size is arrived at based on factors like constraints in time, money and other resources.
Before launching the main study, two pilot studies will be conducted, primarily to test the validity and reliability of the tools of study. The results of the first pilot study will be reserved to be used as the base data for comparison with the subsequent pilot study. The chi-square method will be used to test the consistency of the results of the two pilot studies. The tools will be manipulated until their reliability and validity is declared sufficient.
The main independent variables for this study comprise of the major challengers of effective management of global teams, which include trust, motivation, cohesion, geographical differences/barriers, cultural differences, and communication effectiveness. In correlation analysis, the independent variable will be management styles employed by managers of global teams.
The dependent variable is successful /unsuccessful management of global teams. This will be indicated by the output of the teams.
The study is expected to suffer a few limitations, which include the following. Firstly, the research sets to involve a relatively small number of participants, which is sourced from a limited number of organizations located in the same city. This might create room for bias. Secondly, the research will suffer time constraint, which might lead to heavy workload for the researcher. The research might, thus leave several unattended details. Moreover, the research plans to use semi-structured and open-ended guide. This might limit the control of the researcher over the responses. Meanwhile, some topics might be present in some interviews and absent in others, leading to some interviewee talking more about a topic than others. Other limitations include time and financial constraints.
Managers of global teams face a range of challenges among which include cultural, demographic, technology, time differences, trust issues, performance evaluation limitations and others. Though literature clearly covers all these challenges, little has been done to suggest the remedies for these challenges. By investigating five multinational companies, this research aims at addressing this gap.
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