Academic journal article Researchers World

Role of Perceived Supervisory Support and Communication Competency in Making Virtual Teams More Effective

Academic journal article Researchers World

Role of Perceived Supervisory Support and Communication Competency in Making Virtual Teams More Effective

Article excerpt


The last decade has seen a sea change in the way organizations function. India's exponential growth as a new business superpower and the impact of globalization, information technology, and the digital revolution have changed the country's economic landscape. The paradigm shift from product-based organizations to service-based organizations and from asset performance to people performance has brought with it its own challenges. The workforce now includes members of Generation X (born between 1966 and 1976) and Generation Y (born between 1977 and 1994), for whom suitable models of flexible working hours - keeping in mind their changing definition of work, which includes work/life balance - are yet to evolve. As India recovers from recession, organizations in India will have to deal with global labour markets and VUCA environments (short for volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) generated by offshoring and other multi-level strategies.

The term virtual teams is now almost synonymous with global business and has become such a part and parcel of the business world today that members of such virtual teams fail to recognize the challenge posed by having to work with culturally diverse colleagues who are often separated in space and time as well. That virtual teams are now widespread can be seen in the report titled Trends in Global Virtual Teams (RW3 CultureWizard, 2016), which is based on a study that involved 1372 respondents from 80 countries: 85% of the respondents work in virtual teams; 63% are members of one to three teams; and 22% work in at least four virtual teams. Compared to previous year's survey, teams have more globally distributed members than ever before and mentioned changes in the following areas: geographical distribution (79%), cultural diversity (74%), disciplinary focus (73%), and gender diversity (40%).


Given the increasing popularity of virtual teams, it becomes essential to assess their effectiveness. Virtual teams help in getting the best talent on board (Gibson & Cohen, 2003; (Maznevski & Chudoba, 2000). (Lin, Standing, & Liu, 2008) identified two categories of factors that contribute to the effectiveness of virtual teams, namely socio-dimensional and task-dimensional, but concluded that neither has a significant relationship with effectiveness and that cohesion, relationship building, and trust are important.

Recent developments in the area of the effectiveness of virtual teams have repeatedly highlighted the need for trust in virtual teams (Kanawattanachai & Yoo, 2002). Research also suggests that trust developed through effective communication improves the performance of a team (Ebrahim, Ahmed, & Taha, 2009; (Hossain & Wigand, 2004); (Jarvenpaa & Leidner, 1999); (Jarvenpaa, Knoll, & Leidner, 1998); (Kayworth & Leidner, 2000). Most of the studies on team effectiveness maintain that effective communication is a primary factor in making teams more effective and in resolving conflicts.

To make up for the lack of face-to-face meetings, virtual teams use a variety of communication channels and means such as the telephone, fax, email, and teleconferencing (with or without video); however, this adds to the difficulties due to differences in language, culture, and time (Maznevski & Chudoba, 2000). The more heterogeneous the virtual team in terms of language and culture, the more complex its composition. This complexity could be resolved by developing the required competency in communicating. Communication competency is the ability of an individual to select strategies and behaviours best suited for communication in a given situation or task (Spitzberg & Cupach, 1984). (Robinson, 2014) studied different communication technologies (emailing, teleconferencing, chatting (both audio and video), and virtual work spaces) and highlighted the role of communication competency in communicating through such technologies. …

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