Business Research Methods – Sample Research Proposal for MBA

Benefits and Challenges of Inter-Cultural Team Working in a Virtual Environment

This document represents a sample of the high-quality assignments we offer. Specifically tailored for a student pursuing an MBA in International Business. The work will help in understanding a comprehensive research proposal. The topic of the research proposal is – “Benefits and Challenges of Inter-Cultural Team Working in a Virtual Environment.”

In an era where cross-border collaborations are the norm, understanding the dynamics of inter-cultural teams, especially in a virtual environment is crucial.

It addresses key areas such as communication barriers, leadership challenges, technological reliance, and cultural synergies that enhance team productivity. The proposal aims to understand how diverse teams can effectively collaborate in virtual environments and what are the benefits and challenges.

 

Benefits and Challenges of Inter-Cultural Team Working in a Virtual Environment

1: INTRODUCTION

 

1.1 Introduction

Considering the landscape of high-functioning work culture, the importance of structured teamwork is always being recognised. This particular aspect has emerged enormously by following the global pace of digitalization. This particular context has been recognized to be directly associated with the influences on the performance of a particular organization. The core of this particular study has thus been selected as the interception of the entire aspect of the team working in a virtual environment. This particular aspect selected for the present study has been carried out in terms of addressing the benefits and hurdles encountered by the virtual environment for a particular work culture.

1.2 Research background

Virtual teams have been recognized to be directly linked to the ultimate enhancement of every single aspect of certain work-culture. This particular aspect has been mentioned by various resources addressing the uplifted productivity of virtual teams. According to Oztemel and Gursev (2020), the core of communication channels has been digitalized and it eventually increases the existing robustness of a certain team. Considering the inter-cultural aspect of “online intercultural exchange“, the entire landscape has been shifted to an “internet-mediated intercultural engagement” often referred to as VE. The fact has become evident that intercultural activities encounter a massive transformation due to the absolute improvements of “goal setting nature“. This particular aspect can easily be justified from figure 1.2.1 as the share of global organizations integrating virtual environments has experienced a massive hike between the timeline of 2014 and 2020.

Share of organizations using virtual environments or virtual reality in market research worldwide from 2014 to 2020
Figure 1.2.1: Share of organizations using virtual environments or virtual reality in market research worldwide from 2014 to 2020

(Source: Statista, 2022)

1.3 Rationale

Digital technologies have been recognized to be linked with a particular prerequisite in terms of addressing digital teamwork. As suggested by Zeuge et al. (2020), the virtual environment plays a pivotal from the perception of the enhancement of trust within an intercultural aspect. This particular fact is also being linked to specific drawbacks related to the gap within the necessary technical skills as intercultural characteristics have been considered (Morrison-Smith and Ruiz, 2020). It has been highlighted by various resources as high functioning technical skills related to VR play a pivotal role in the generation of hurdles in this particular aspect.

1.4 Research aim and objectives

The present study aims to intercept the hurdles and benefits that seem to have existed within the inter-cultural teamwork within the virtual environment.

Objectives:

  • To intercept the importance of key factors of structured inter-cultural teamwork.
  • To identify the fundamental elements related to the virtual environment.
  • To evaluate the impact of the virtual environment on the inter-cultural work culture.
  • To analyse the benefits and challenges of integration of virtual environment from a particular aspect of inter-cultural teamwork.
1.5 Research questions
  • What are the important elements related to structured inter-cultural teamwork?
  • What are the fundamental policies related to the virtual environment?
  • What is the actual correlation between virtual reality and inter-cultural teamwork?
  • What are the challenges and benefits of the integration of VE in a inter-cultural teamwork?

 

2. LITERATURE REVIEW

 

2.1 Introduction

Intercultural teams refer to international teams including various people from different backgrounds and cultures. Intercultural teamwork can overcome cultural and language barriers and prepare projects around different countries in different time zones. In this chapter certain key factors are described which influence intercultural team formation across organisations. Further discussion has been made to provide a definite understanding of the virtual environment in the workplace. Considering this, the following research would focus on critically evaluating the overall benefits and challenges of intercultural teams working in a virtual environment.

2.2 Key factors related to intercultural team working

Due to globalisation, workplaces are drastically becoming integrated and interconnected. This situation makes cross-cultural understanding more vital for all people. In order to develop knowledge and skills as communicators, people have to be aware of the key factors of intercultural teamwork. Some key factors which impact most in intercultural teamwork are,

  • Cultural intelligence
  • Ethnic identity
  • Gender roles
  • Social relationships
  • Cultural identity

A clear discussion about how these five factors are affected in intercultural teamwork, is provided below.

Cultural intelligence

Cultural intelligence (CQ) can make people more efficient in working places beyond cultures. Innovation is necessary for increasing every organisation’s performance and it is also predicted that the relation between interculturalism and innovation is managed by cultural intelligence (Korzilius et al. 2017). Cultural intelligence facilitates a better understanding of diverse cultural schemas and therefore, helps in the integration of multiple cultural identities across teams.

Impact of CQ in intercultural teamwork
Impact of CQ in intercultural teamwork

Figure 2.2.1: Impact of CQ in intercultural teamwork

(Source: Korzilius et al. 2017)

Ethnic identity

Ethnic identity focuses on the interaction process of co-workers from different cultures. It defines the values of individual practices that point out with an ethnic group. It might be expressed by different symbols and behaviours.    

Social relationships

Social relationships positively impact intercultural teamwork. Social tensions in intercultural teamwork were triggered through an effective unique method to encourage thought and in-depth discussion (Mittelmeier et al. 2018). It is demonstrated that social relationships between co-workers in a team decrease complexity and refer to more logical gains.     

Cultural identity

Culture identity can define the values and the different ways of doing work that a person carries with them from the place where the people were born and brought up. The different attitudes can affect intercultural teamwork.    

Regulatory reforms and changing community expectations about organizational behaviour have increased the emphasis on the role of culture in organizational compliance (Interligi, 2010).

Researchers are increasingly recognizing the role of culture as a source of variation in many phenomena of central importance to consumer research (Kastanakis, 2014). This review addresses a gap in cross-cultural benefits and behaviour in virtual environment literature by providing a review and conceptual analysis of the effects of culture on the efficiency and working virtually.

2.3 Understanding the advantages and challenges of virtual environment in workplace

Nowadays virtual environments have become very popular in almost all industries. It does not have any physical existence and is not affected by any geographical boundaries. Virtual environments have been used and modified by many educators and team leaders to develop students and team members’ skills and knowledge respectively with a virtual experience (Liaw, 2019). Virtual Reality (VR) has the capacity to allow multiple users to communicate online and create social and intercultural team experience through the virtual environment. Virtual environments have many positive and as well as negative impacts on intercultural teamwork and has been discussed as follows:

Advantages

People from any geographical location can easily work in a virtual environment without any obstacles. According to Gafni and Goldstein (2020), it is found that the procrastination decreased after implementing virtual environments in multicultural contexts across various international organisations. Using a virtual environment in any workplace can save costs, increase productivity and a healthy work-life balance and also increase the capacity of employee retention. Virtual environments can decrease carbon footprint and deliver services and products in a faster way. Using a virtual environment any organisation can train employees from different backgrounds, mind sets and with different knowledge all over the world.        

Disadvantages

Major disadvantages of virtual environments are trust issues, the higher authority of any organisation can’t meet the workers in person, for this reason a trust issue is created. During the covid-19 pandemic, many workers showed lack of interest in completing the project for feeling deserted (Yang et al. 2022). It also sometimes decreases the team power, every member of the team does the work at their own time, so the time management system is also hampered. Virtual environments make an employee feel separated from the world. Along with that, team building is also identified as a difficult task through the virtual environment.

2.4 Theoretical underpinning

Tuckman’s theory

According to this theory, the process of team building is essentially carried out through a series of 5 specific steps. These involve forming, storming, norming, performing and adjourning. Through these steps, the ability of a team to perform effectively is defined during the entire duration of a specific project, starting from the time of recruitment of respective team members (Kiweewa et al. 2018). Forming stages involve introduction among different teammates and discussion regarding various project essentials, mainly involving individuals’ skills, project goals and timeline. Storming stage mentions the requirement of an effective leadership strategy to deal with any anti-cooperativeness that arises during this specific stage.

Tuckman’s Theory

Figure 2.4: Tuckman’s Theory

(Source: Kiweewa et al. 2018)

Following this stage, team workers come to terms with every individual perspective and essentially move toward a common goal. The performing stage involves increased awareness regarding the core strengths and weaknesses of respective team members, resulting in increased motivation and work performance. Finally, the adjourning stage involves dismissal of the team and acquisition of a positive experience by every individual team member, allowing further work effectiveness across similar team working conditions.

2.4 Conclusion

The key factors of intercultural teamwork can be identified as cultural intelligence, ethnic identity, role of gender, social relationship and cultural identity. A brief description of the virtual environment and the advantages and disadvantages of applying it in intercultural teamwork has been described in this chapter. The most beneficial point of adopting virtual environments is decreasing procrastination is discussed in this section.  The challenges for adopting a virtual environment in any organisation are also provided.     

3. SUMMARY

 

This research thoroughly explores the intricacies of intercultural teamwork within virtual environments. Chapter 1 offers an in-depth introduction, setting the context and establishing the relevance of the study. It provides a comprehensive background of the topic, laying out the foundational aspects that underpin this research. Additionally, this chapter articulates the primary objectives and formulates the key research questions that guide the investigation.

In Chapter 2, the focus shifts to the critical factors influencing intercultural teamwork. Here, the discussion includes an analysis of Tuckman’s theory of team development, highlighting its relevance to intercultural team dynamics. The chapter also delves into the intersection of virtual environments and intercultural workplaces, examining how these two dimensions interact and impact team functioning.

Chapter 3 is dedicated to the research methodology. It outlines the decision to adopt an interpretivism research philosophy, complemented by an inductive approach and an exploratory research design. This chapter meticulously describes the methodological framework, ensuring a robust and thorough exploration of the topic. It also acknowledges the main limitations of the research, providing a clear and concise overview of the potential constraints encountered during the study.

Overall, this research provides a detailed and nuanced understanding of the benefits and challenges faced by intercultural teams working in virtual settings, offering valuable insights for both academic and practical applications.

 

4. REFERENCE LIST

 

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  • Gafni, R. and Goldstein, A., 2020. Effects of multicultural teamwork on individual procrastination. Interdisciplinary Journal of e-Skills and Lifelong Learning16, pp.043-063.
  • Kiweewa, J.M., Gilbride, D., Luke, M. and Clingerman, T., 2018. Tracking growth factors in experiential training groups through Tuckman’s conceptual model. The Journal for Specialists in Group Work, 43(3), pp.274-296.
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  • Statista, 2022. Use of virtual environments/ VR in market research worldwide 2014-2020. statista. Available at: https://www.statista.com/statistics/966903/market-research-industry-virtual-environments-vr/ [Accessed on 8 May 2022]
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