Department of Management

The role of context in overcoming distance-related problems in global virtual teams: An organizational discontinuity theory perspective

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Working at a distance has become a hot topic since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. One type of work unit that naturally faces both physical and social distance is the Global Virtual Teams (GVT). While distance has been debated in the GVT literature, there is still a scarcity of research on how to deal with distance related problems. Guided by organizational discontinuity theory, we explore the effect of individual-level approaches to overcoming physical distance (time zone adjustment) and social distance (trust in peers) in GVTs. In addition, we assess how these mechanisms are affected by the team context in the form of openness to cultural diversity. We do this by studying 23 GVTs (171 team members and 23 team leaders) in the global R&D department of a Danish engineering company. Our findings demonstrate that trust in peers is positively associated with job role clarity and job performance at the individual-level, and that high team openness to diversity, in the case of performance, makes the individual’s level of trust in peers less necessary for achieving performance. Our results also show that time zone adjustment increases job role clarity for the individual team member, but only in GVTs with high openness to cultural diversity. Based on this, we contribute to the organizational discontinuity theory by demonstrating how continuity-creating mechanisms can interact with the team context to ultimately support the individual’s potential for handling distance in GVTs.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe International Journal of Human Resource Management
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2022

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