Interpersonal relationships in transnational, virtual teams - towards a configurational perspective

This article uses a literature review to develop a configurational analysis of interpersonal relationships in transnational teams (TNTs). The configurational approach posits that organisational reality cannot be explained by uni-directional, causal relationships between isolated variables, but only...

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Main Author: Angelika Zimmermann
Format: Default Conference proceeding
Published: 2010
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Online Access:https://hdl.handle.net/2134/9873
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spelling rr-article-94996522010-01-01T00:00:00Z Interpersonal relationships in transnational, virtual teams - towards a configurational perspective Angelika Zimmermann (1256499) Other commerce, management, tourism and services not elsewhere classified untagged Business and Management not elsewhere classified This article uses a literature review to develop a configurational analysis of interpersonal relationships in transnational teams (TNTs). The configurational approach posits that organisational reality cannot be explained by uni-directional, causal relationships between isolated variables, but only in terms of variable configurations, i.e. „multidimensional constellations of conceptually distinct characteristics that commonly occur together‟ (Meyer et al. 1993, p. 1175). The effect of single variables is seen to depend on their interaction with the multitude of other variables in a configuration. TNTs are defined as groups composed of members of different nationalities, who work on a common task. Previous research on TNTs has observed that strong interpersonal relationships are especially important for the functioning of these teams, but are at the same time particularly hard to achieve. Moreover, many studies have singled out particular processes that will here be termed „aspects‟ of relationships. This article firstly integrates the transnational and virtual team literature to provide an overview of examined relationship aspects. The article identifies cognitive relationship aspects, which encompass team identity, subgroup formation, shared understanding, and trust. Communication, knowledge creation, and conflicts are described as behavioural aspects, and interpersonal affect is identified as an affective relationship aspect. These relationship aspects are regarded as elements of complex relationship configurations. The paper therefore describes the influence of each of these aspects on other relationship aspects, thereby demonstrating complex interconnections between relationship aspects. This provides a first step towards a configurational analysis. The paper further reviews how several characteristics of the team structure, organisational context, and socio-political environment may facilitate or inhibit several relationship aspects. Special emphasis is placed on the influence of cultural diversity and virtuality as the two factors that are characteristic of TNTs, and which have also been discussed most frequently in the literature. Through a synthesis of previous research, the article then provides an overview of suggested mutual influences between relationship aspects. This leads to a suggestion of two examples of relationship configurations and their driving factors. These configurations are characterised by the orchestrating themes of „commitment and tight coupling‟ and „commitment and loose coupling‟, respectively. The paper concludes by recommending methods for future empirical research on relationship configurations in TNTs. It argues that a broad range of relationship aspects needs to be included in such research, to examine relationships across a number of different team structures and organisational contexts, and in different socio-political environments. In-depth, qualitative case research is the most suitable for exploring this complex social phenomenon. 2010-01-01T00:00:00Z Text Conference contribution 2134/9873 https://figshare.com/articles/conference_contribution/Interpersonal_relationships_in_transnational_virtual_teams_-_towards_a_configurational_perspective/9499652 CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
institution Loughborough University
collection Figshare
topic Other commerce, management, tourism and services not elsewhere classified
untagged
Business and Management not elsewhere classified
spellingShingle Other commerce, management, tourism and services not elsewhere classified
untagged
Business and Management not elsewhere classified
Angelika Zimmermann
Interpersonal relationships in transnational, virtual teams - towards a configurational perspective
description This article uses a literature review to develop a configurational analysis of interpersonal relationships in transnational teams (TNTs). The configurational approach posits that organisational reality cannot be explained by uni-directional, causal relationships between isolated variables, but only in terms of variable configurations, i.e. „multidimensional constellations of conceptually distinct characteristics that commonly occur together‟ (Meyer et al. 1993, p. 1175). The effect of single variables is seen to depend on their interaction with the multitude of other variables in a configuration. TNTs are defined as groups composed of members of different nationalities, who work on a common task. Previous research on TNTs has observed that strong interpersonal relationships are especially important for the functioning of these teams, but are at the same time particularly hard to achieve. Moreover, many studies have singled out particular processes that will here be termed „aspects‟ of relationships. This article firstly integrates the transnational and virtual team literature to provide an overview of examined relationship aspects. The article identifies cognitive relationship aspects, which encompass team identity, subgroup formation, shared understanding, and trust. Communication, knowledge creation, and conflicts are described as behavioural aspects, and interpersonal affect is identified as an affective relationship aspect. These relationship aspects are regarded as elements of complex relationship configurations. The paper therefore describes the influence of each of these aspects on other relationship aspects, thereby demonstrating complex interconnections between relationship aspects. This provides a first step towards a configurational analysis. The paper further reviews how several characteristics of the team structure, organisational context, and socio-political environment may facilitate or inhibit several relationship aspects. Special emphasis is placed on the influence of cultural diversity and virtuality as the two factors that are characteristic of TNTs, and which have also been discussed most frequently in the literature. Through a synthesis of previous research, the article then provides an overview of suggested mutual influences between relationship aspects. This leads to a suggestion of two examples of relationship configurations and their driving factors. These configurations are characterised by the orchestrating themes of „commitment and tight coupling‟ and „commitment and loose coupling‟, respectively. The paper concludes by recommending methods for future empirical research on relationship configurations in TNTs. It argues that a broad range of relationship aspects needs to be included in such research, to examine relationships across a number of different team structures and organisational contexts, and in different socio-political environments. In-depth, qualitative case research is the most suitable for exploring this complex social phenomenon.
format Default
Conference proceeding
author Angelika Zimmermann
author_facet Angelika Zimmermann
author_sort Angelika Zimmermann (1256499)
title Interpersonal relationships in transnational, virtual teams - towards a configurational perspective
title_short Interpersonal relationships in transnational, virtual teams - towards a configurational perspective
title_full Interpersonal relationships in transnational, virtual teams - towards a configurational perspective
title_fullStr Interpersonal relationships in transnational, virtual teams - towards a configurational perspective
title_full_unstemmed Interpersonal relationships in transnational, virtual teams - towards a configurational perspective
title_sort interpersonal relationships in transnational, virtual teams - towards a configurational perspective
publishDate 2010
url https://hdl.handle.net/2134/9873
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