This post begins my blog serie about virtual collaboration. This post is about the background of globalization and virtual work´s basics in organizational level.
Organisations have transformed to suit the global marketplace at different levels, and virtual teams are now increasingly utilized in global businesses. Virtual teams offer more possibilities to benefit from experts working across the globe, increasing adaptability, flexibility, agility and speed. Based on Stohl´s classification from 2002 the level of integration can be divided into four types, but here are the two most advanced ones:
- International companies identify with several countries with different characteristics and distinct national interests exist within management, clients and organisations in general,
- In global workplace a global system is identified and organisational membership has taken over national allegiances.
Previously, globalization was about conquering lands and seas, but now it is more about creating shared virtual realities together, as stated by futurists Mika Aaltonen and Rolf Jensen in their book The Renaissance Society from 2013. Jensen predicted already in 1999, globalization will escalate technological advancement and change, bringing cultures together and societies closer to each other. It has been visioned that globalization will foster cooperation, goodwill and peace among nations, increasing growth and prosperity and sustaining excellence.
Tools and competencies for sharing information globally are there, but, sharing good practices virtually and globally is not obvious. As we all know knowledge is power and often knowledge is not not shared voluntarily without proper knowledge management tools and practises. Despite the barriers to communication in global work, companies are often reluctant to reveal their best practices for competitive reasons, and they are not willing to reveal failures in organizing global projects. In particular, communicating these issues to the competitors is often avoided.
Knowledge management culture, which sees knowledge as a resource is essential. Cross-cultural global projects have changed the working environment significantly, and it is crucial to recognize what kind of communication and collaboration practises are needed in each phase of a project. I suggest that recognizing, measuring and rewarding virtual communication competence benefits virtual collaboration. I have found evidence that communication planning and training in addition to usable information systems and ICT are needed to support identification, capture and sharing information and knowledge as well.
For effective virtual collaboration at least three issues should be considered
- The final result meet the original targets. Exceeding the expectations is all the better. This has a relationship with trust.
- The way of work should be organized so that individuals are able to use their knowledge to their full potential or even better – exceeding and growing professionally is preferred. This is related to development of cognitive trust at work.
- The overall experience of the collaboration should satisfy people´s professional interests and needs. Personal feelings of affective based trust are definitely plus.
Knowledge is a corporate asset, and organisation´s role in supporting interactions is essential. Trust is agreed to be a fundamental factor for cooperation among virtual workforce, and efficient communication practises are crucial for virtual collaboration.