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Creating Effective Global Virtual Teams: A Transactive Memory Perspective.

By Joy O. Oguntebi


This dissertation examines global groups at work through an intensive study of cross-national student teams and case studies of exemplar companies that work across boundaries. We consider the role of transactive memory systems (TMS) as a way to create effective team processes. A TMS is a cooperative division-of-labor for learning, remembering, communicating and utilizing team knowledge and it represents formations of collective memory within small groups. Within the knowledge management and organizational learning arenas, knowledge transfer explorations in virtual organizations exist but remain few even as interest in virtual environments continues to increase. Technological advancements have led to a reduction in operational boundaries, and consequently, corporations are increasingly using geographically-dispersed teams as a mechanism for accomplishing organizational work. A consistent finding in the TMS literature is that the development of a TMS leads to improved team performance. Prior TMS studies have focused mainly on collocated teams and social psychology settings; however, less attention has been directed to its emergence and effectiveness in virtual R&D teams. This dissertation aims to address this by exploring the effectiveness of global product development teams through a transactive memory perspective. Based on our understanding of the teamwork literature and TMS, we identified three salient virtual group process enablers and sought to investigate their roles in transactive memory system emergence within our student-teams and industry cases. These enablers are: communication effectiveness, investment in group cohesion, and strategies for division-of-labor. We first conduct a quantitative analysis that explores the relationship between 1) the group process enablers and TMS, 2) the group process enablers and team performance, and 3) TMS and team performance. Next, we present a comparative qualitative analysis that evaluates the stronger-performing teams and the weaker-performing teams. Finally, we explore the enabler-TMS-performance relationships in multinational and virtual R&D teams in exemplar companies. We relate the implications from our industry cases exploration to our analysis from the student-teams

Topics: Knowledge Management, Virtual Teams, Transactive Memory, Team Learning
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