Academic journal article Journal of Applied Management and Entrepreneurship

Managers' Remote Work and Expertise across Cultures

Academic journal article Journal of Applied Management and Entrepreneurship

Managers' Remote Work and Expertise across Cultures

Article excerpt


Remote management is currently a routine task in organizational life. However, at any given time, some of an organization's members will struggle with personal challenges, such as remote management of cross-cultural environments and local entrepreneurship.

While a manager's remote-work emphasis is on virtual-team performance, the need to attend to conflicts, communication, and cultural perspectives has grown considerably in recent years (e.g., Mulki et al., 2009; Maznevski et al., 2000); the herein presented understanding of individual managers' remote work-such as sending instructions from A to B-implies that their managerial inputs arrive in cross-cultural environments without those managers' physical displacement. This study examines the unique expertise that enables managers to implement their cross-cultural projects remotely, since little research into this topic yet exists. It also explores this question through an inductive, interviewbased study of remote managers working for the United States Government in Washington, D.C. Furthermore, it identifies circumstances that engender such managers' work expertise in virtual workplaces where work is divided according to space, time, and performance pressures.

Significantly, this article adopts a Bourdieuian organizational perspective, focusing on the situated, everyday activities of managers' remote work. This allows for the recognition of objective structures and subjective experiences as important aspects of distance-management dynamics that must be understood. The Bourdieuian organizational perspective involves looking at situated activities in order to comprehend contextual circumstances. This perspective emphasizes the relationships that emerge between organizational contexts and component behavior (individuals and groups) and examines how these relationships affect outcomes (House, Rouseau and Thomas-Hunt, 1995).

From the aforementioned perspective, then, this analysis examines the significant mechanisms that emerge from managers' remote-work expertise apropos of implementing projects, specifically local enterprises, in cross-cultural organizational contexts. The cross-cultural implementation of a project has certain performance implications for both individuals and enterprises. The complexity of this situation is greater when projects are supervised remotely because this requires cross-cultural management expertise in understanding local individuals and enterprises-an unexamined form of work whose study can strengthen management and entrepreneurship theories and practices.

The following sections review theories and research underpinning the theoretical framework for this study's stated focus on the in-context management of local small enterprises. Interviews with government contractors and supervisors (remote managers) constitute a portion of this analysis to aid in theorizing links between managers' remote work and a set of project-implementation mechanisms, with a view to describing remote-work expertise itself. This study concludes with a discussion of the theoretical contributions it makes to applied management and entrepreneurship theories. Implications for practitioners and suggestions for future research are also discussed.

A review of extant literature on remote work managers

Before discussing the actual work managers do-particularly when they manage projects remotely-it is only proper to review the existing literature on remote management and remote managers' work in the present section.

There are several debates on remote management, and these focus on virtualteam performance, conflicts, communication, and cultural perspectives (e.g., Mulki et al., 2009; Maznevski et al., 2000), as well as on remote work and work-life balance (e.g., Baugh et al., 2013). However, little has been written on remote managers' actual work when dealing with cross-cultural projects pertaining to local individuals and enterprises. …

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