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The Effects of Cultural Diversity in Virtual Teams Versus Face-to-Face Teams

Abstract

Diversity in the national background and culture of team members is common in virtual teams. An experimental study, with short term teams, was undertaken to examine the effect of cultural diversity on team effectiveness and to examine if this effect changes depending if the team worked face-to-face (F2F) or virtually. Heterogeneous teams were created that had greater diversity than homogeneous teams of individualism/collectivism values, different languages spoken, country of birth, and nationality. The teams worked on a desert survival task either F2F or virtually (via audioconference and electronic chat tools). The overall results indicated that heterogeneous teams were less satisfied and cohesive and had more conflict than the homogeneous teams, although there were no statistical differences in team performance levels. However, examining just the heterogeneous teams found that the performance of the virtual heterogeneous teams was superior to that of the F2F heterogeneous teams. The results support Carte and Chidambaram's (2004) theory that the reductive capabilities of collaborative technologies are beneficial for newly-formed diverse teams.

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Correspondence to D. Sandy Staples.

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Staples, D.S., Zhao, L. The Effects of Cultural Diversity in Virtual Teams Versus Face-to-Face Teams. Group Decis Negot 15, 389–406 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10726-006-9042-x

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10726-006-9042-x

Keywords

  • team diversity
  • virtual teams
  • cultural diversity
  • national culture
  • experiment
  • survival task
  • reductive capabilities of collaborative technologies