Exploration of Team Mental Model Characteristics to Identify Opportunities and Hindrances in Global Virtual Teamwork
Washburn University. School of Business
Kaw Valley Bank
While there is a significant volume of literature that studies teams and team working, the research in virtual teams and global virtual teamwork is still developing. The current research acknowledges the popularity of virtual teamwork in today's organizations and sheds light on differences between global virtual and other forms of teamwork using different features of the team mental model. Compared to traditional or face-to-face teams, global virtual teams can usually achieve more significant team process gains, suggesting the existence of opportunities, while disengagement might lead to losses, representing hindrances. This research aims to identify particular features of global virtual teamwork and ways in which they impact performance, using the concept of team mental model, conceptualized as teams' thought processes reflected i n teamwork common knowledge and team members' perceptions about their actions and outcomes. We examine the concept of team mental model in the form of cohesiveness, task abilities, and social loafing. We propose that virtual teams' cohesiveness can present both opportunities and hindrances for team performance, promoting performance orientation, stimulated by the use of communication and collaboration technologies, while potentially hurting outcomes depending on how much individualism value orientations or anti-work norms are prevalent within the team. We also propose that global virtual teams benefit from epistemic opportunities because they have access to wide-ranging and far-reaching perspectives generated by diverse team members, as well as knowledge heterogeneity and within team cross-learning potential. Conversely, motivational losses in the form of social loafing and trust development hinder processes and outcomes of global virtual teamwork.