Technology Factors in Virtual Teams Leading to Conflict

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Technology Factors in Virtual Teams Leading to Conflict Thesis Statement and Introduction Virtual Teams (VTs) are group of individuals with a common goal that are separated geographically and communicate thru the use of technology (Pazos, 2012). Virtual teams open up a whole new world of possible reasons for conflicts and challenges to conflict resolution. Understanding the factors that lead to conflicts, the communication methods and the responsibility of Human Resources (HR) or the third party in conflict resolution is important to be able to develop effective understanding of conflict resolution in virtual teams. Background of Research The shift to flatter organizations, cost saving measures, globalization (Germain and McGuire, 2014), and the advancement of technology has led to the growth of the massive use of VTs. According to Peñarroja, Orengo, Zornoza, and Hernández, (2013), as teams become more virtual there is an increasing negative effect of collaborative behaviours and team trust. Many researches have correlated that conflict affect the performance of VTs in terms of decreasing it (Ayoko, Konrad and Boyle, 2012; Pazos, 2012; Moreno, Navarro, Zornoza and Ripoll, 2009). As a result of the very fast growth of the VTs usage, these teams are treated are regular face-to-face teams in terms of management, this has caused numerous conflicts and an increased concentration on research on this topic (Shin, 2005). Dain et. al. (2012) argue that the essentials of team building are still there but globalization and technology are the new dimensions which is making it harder for managers. The three commonly discussed points in current researches on conflict resolution in virtual teams are trust, cultural diversity and communication medium or the technology responsible for establishing communication. Comparison of Different Theories It is highly likely that team members in a virtual team do not know each other. In this kind of situation it is possible that teams may not success if they do not trust each other, but the members are not aware of each other’s abilities and weakness living the members with no foundation to build trust. Germain and McGuire (2014) introduce the concept of swift trust. It is a short term trust that is built on the foundation of blind trust. Blind trust, as bad as it sounds, is an essential factor making virtual team work and avoid conflicts at the start of the project and get things goings. The second point is cultural diversity. Stahl, Maznevski, Voigt and Jonsen (2010) have stated that cultural diversity in teams is both an asset and liability. It is the ability of the team to manage cultural diversity is key in avoiding conflicts. This point shall only be lightly discussed on this paper as it fairly huge topic in itself. The third common point is the technology itself. As Drouin, Bourgault, and Gervais (2010) state that: “a number of studies showing that computer-mediated communication may be associated with an increase in intragroup conflict (p. 6).” Lyons, Priest, Wildman, Salas, and Carnegie (2009) add that it is due to the increased chances of misinterpretation.

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