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Spatial and temporal boundaries in global teams: distinguishing where you work from when you work

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Spatial and temporal boundaries in global teams: distinguishing where you work from when you work

Abstract

While spatial boundaries include the geographic differences among team members (e.g., different cities), temporal boundaries include the workday differences among team members (e.g., different time zones). In global teams, members have to deal with both spatial and temporal boundaries, since their co-workers are often located in cities within and across time zones. For global team members with high spatial boundaries and low temporal boundaries (e.g., different cities in the same time zone), synchronous communication technologies such as the telephone and instant messenger provide a means for real-time interaction. However, for global team members with high spatial boundaries and high temporal boundaries (e.g., different cities in different time zones), asynchronous communication technologies such as e-mail and web software provide a way to interact intermittently. Using social network data from 625 team members (representing 5986 pairs) across 137 global teams in a multi-national semiconductor firm, we explore the impact of spatial and temporal boundaries on coordination delay. We also illustrate how member awareness can reduce coordination delay, thus increasing the likelihood of better global team performance.
Spatial and temporal boundaries in global
teams: Distinguishing where you work from
when you work
Jonathon N. Cummings
1
, J. Alberto Espinosa
2
, and Cynthia K Pickering
3
1 Fuqua School of Business
Duke University
jonathon.cummings@duke.edu
2 Kogod School of Business
American University
alberto@american.edu
3 Information Services and Technology Group
Intel Corporation
cynthia.k.pickering@intel.com
Abstract. While spatial boundaries include the geographic differences among
team members (e.g., different cities), temporal boundaries include the workday
differences among team members (e.g., different time zones). In global teams,
members have to deal with both spatial and temporal boundaries, since their
co-workers are often located in cities within and across time zones. For global
team members with high spatial boundaries and low temporal boundaries (e.g.,
different cities in the same time zone), synchronous communication
technologies such as the telephone and instant messenger provide a means for
real-time interaction. However, for global team members with high spatial
boundaries and high temporal boundaries (e.g., different cities in different time
zones), asynchronous communication technologies such as e-mail and web
software provide a way to interact intermittently. Using social network data
from 625 team members (representing 5986 pairs) across 137 global teams in a
multi-national semiconductor firm, we explore the impact of spatial and
temporal boundaries on coordination delay. We also illustrate how member
awareness can reduce coordination delay, thus increasing the likelihood of
better global team performance.
1 Introduction
A wide range of terms – including distant, proximate, dispersed, collocated, and
virtual – evoke the spatial boundaries inherent in distributed work. Global software
development, information technology offshoring, and just-in-time manufacturing are
2 Jonathon N. CummingsP1P, J. Alberto EspinosaP2P, and Cynthia K PickeringP3P
a few of the business practices that rely on employees in different geographic
locations. Spatial boundaries, defined as geographic differences in where people are
located, are fundamental to the study of distributed work [21]. Prior research has
linked an increase in relatively low spatial boundaries (e.g., different hallway vs.
different floor vs. different building) to a reduction in work outcomes such as task
communication [2], collaboration likelihood [27], and teamwork quality [22]. As
work continues to become more globally distributed across different cities and
countries, spatial boundaries will undoubtedly overlap with temporal boundaries
[12]. Temporal boundaries, conceptualized as the amount of non-overlapping work
time (e.g., 8am to 5pm Pacific Standard Time vs. 8am to 5pm Greenwich Mean
Time), have the potential to be as disruptive as spatial boundaries. Unfortunately,
empirical research has not kept up with theorizing about temporal boundaries in
distributed work [13, 37, 43, 39].
To illustrate the distinction between spatial boundaries and temporal boundaries,
consider a product development team with members split between sites in Northern
and Southern California. Though members on the team reside in different geographic
locations, they share the same hours in a workday. Thus, if members encounter an
urgent problem, or need to coordinate their work in real-time, they have access to
synchronous communication technologies (e.g., telephone or instant messenger)
throughout the workday. Now consider a separate product development team with
members split between sites in Northern California and India. Because of the 13.5-
hour time difference between sites, members will likely experience a one-day delay
in solving their problems and coordinating their work through asynchronous
communication technologies (e.g., e-mail or web software). In both product
development teams, the members encounter high spatial boundaries. However, in the
first team, the temporal boundaries are low, while in the second team, they are high.
The purpose of this paper is to explore the differential impact of spatial and temporal
boundaries on coordination delay and global team performance.
1.1 A boundary-based model of coordination delay
Coordination has long been considered an important aspect of joint work, since
people have to manage task dependencies and integrate their work towards a
common goal [32, 41, 42]. For members working on a project across different sites,
coordination is even more critical, as it can take longer to resolve issues, clarify
communication, and rework tasks [19]. These time lags in coordination, or
coordination delay, are costly to organizations due to the additional hours of time
spent by project members [5]. Practitioners and academics alike have been optimistic
that various communication technologies will be able to help team members
overcome distance to coordinate effectively [8, 16, 30]. Although there are
documented examples of software development teams that successfully “follow-the-
sun” and product development teams that do an excellent job of designing in the
West (e.g., US, Europe) and producing in the East (e.g., India, China), it is unclear if
these are exceptions or the norm. Furthermore, the coordination delay issues that
global team members face have not been linked to different combinations of spatial
Spatial and temporal boundaries in global teams: Distinguishing where you work from
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3
and temporal boundaries, and there has not been empirical evidence regarding which
communication technologies are best suited for managing these boundaries.
Spatial boundaries, such as being located in a different city from other team
members, impact the likelihood of face-to-face contact, spontaneous communication,
and shared social settings [24]. It follows that coordination delay should increase
with spatial boundaries when informal and unplanned interactions are required [26].
Temporal boundaries, such as being located in a different time zone from other team
members, impact the likelihood of synchronous communication, real-time problem
solving, and workflow availability [13]. That is, the resulting communication across
high temporal boundaries will be largely asynchronous, leading to longer response
and issue resolution times. Thus, coordination delay should increase with temporal
boundaries since there are fewer overlapping hours within to work [37]. Global team
members who work across spatial and temporal boundaries face even greater
consequences for coordination delay. Not only do team members have to work
harder to create opportunities for informal interaction, but they also have to be more
aware of the work hours of other members. Therefore, we propose that:
Hypothesis 1a: Holding constant temporal boundaries, an increase in spatial
boundaries (i.e., same city vs different city with overlapping workday) will be
associated with an increase in coordination delay for pairs of global team members.
Hypothesis 1b: Holding constant spatial boundaries, an increase in temporal
boundaries (i.e., same workday vs. different workday in different cities) will be
associated with an increase in coordination delay for pairs of global team members.
Hypothesis 1c: An increase in spatial boundaries will be more strongly
associated with an increase in coordination delay when there is also an increase in
temporal boundaries for pairs of global team members (i.e., same city with
overlapping workday vs. different city with overlapping workday vs. different city
with non-overlapping workday).
Communication technologies allow team members to communicate at a distant
through the use of audio, video, text, graphics, and other features. Researchers have
categorized communication technologies according to whether they are used
synchronously or asynchronously, as well as whether they are used in the same place
or in different places (e.g., [7, 36]). For example, telephone communication is
synchronous and is often used when two people are in different places, while e-mail
communication is asynchronous and is often used when two people are in different
places. In teams separated by high spatial boundaries, face-to-face communication is
not a regular option, given that members are not in the same place. Therefore,
members are less likely to bump into one another in the hallway, see each other in
the lunchroom, or encounter one another in meetings throughout a workday. As a
result, they will have less mutual knowledge about team members in other locations,
including contextual information such as work schedules, time commitments, and
other task constraints [9]. Opportunities for informal communication, which give
team members a chance to update one another on progress and develop mutual
knowledge, are more difficult to create. Similarly, synchronous communication, such
as talking on the phone, is less likely to occur naturally when team members are
spread across spatial boundaries given the need to be available at the same time.
Developing common practices for dispersed coordination is difficult, and requires
4 Jonathon N. CummingsP1P, J. Alberto EspinosaP2P, and Cynthia K PickeringP3P
aligning the effort of all parties involved [38]. When team members are in different
geographic locations, but have time overlap in their workday, both informal
communication and synchronous communication should reduce the likelihood of
coordination delay. We hypothesize that:
Hypothesis 2a: An increase in informal communication will decrease the
negative impact of spatial boundaries (i.e., different cities) on coordination delay for
pairs of global team members who have low temporal boundaries (i.e., overlapping
workday).
Hypothesis 2b: An increase in synchronous communication will decrease the
negative impact of spatial boundaries (i.e., different cities) on coordination delay for
pairs of global team members who have low temporal boundaries (i.e., overlapping
workday).
For team members separated by high spatial boundaries and high temporal
boundaries, informal communication and synchronous communication are even less
likely to happen by chance. One way for members to mitigate this challenge is
through active awareness of when others are working (e.g., in order to make an early
morning or a late-night phone call). Through transactive memory, members can build
awareness of who is doing what, and try to forecast when interaction is necessary
[28, 29]. Team members with greater awareness of other members should be in a
better position to connect when needed [11]. An alternative to interaction outside of
the typical work day is through asynchronous communication such as email.
Research suggests that managers prefer email for a wide range of activities, and it
can be used to share information, coordinate work, and create a shared identity for
the group [1, 15]. Other technologies, such as WebEx and Groove, allow team
members to share a desktop, on which they can save files, leave messages, and
interact asynchronously (or synchronously if both people are available at the same
time). Given the advantages of member awareness and asynchronous
communication, we expect the following:
Hypothesis 3a: An increase in awareness of when other members are working
will decrease the negative impact of spatial boundaries (i.e., different cities) on
coordination delay for pairs of global team members who have high temporal
boundaries (i.e., non-overlapping workday).
Hypothesis 3b: An increase in asynchronous communication will decrease the
negative impact of spatial boundaries (i.e., different cities) on coordination delay for
pairs of global team members who have high temporal boundaries (i.e., non-
overlapping workday).
Finally, we argue that the overall performance of global teams, such as
completing work on time, working well within budget, and meeting final product
requirements [3], is impacted by the coordination delay among pairs of members.
When workflow coordination does not proceed smoothly among members who
depend on one another for knowledge and expertise [14], we anticipate that
performance will suffer. It follows that:
Hypothesis 4: An increase in coordination delay for pairs of members will be
associated with a decrease in global team performance.
We test the above hypotheses using survey data from 625 members of 137 global
teams in a Fortune 500 corporation. Our boundary-based model of coordination
delay addresses the linkages between spatial and temporal boundaries, coordination
Spatial and temporal boundaries in global teams: Distinguishing where you work fro
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when you work
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delay, and performance. We identify potential moderators of spatial boundaries and
coordination delay (i.e., informal communication and synchronous communication),
as well as temporal boundaries and coordination delay (i.e., member awareness and
asynchronous communication).
1.2 Analysis Strategy
Given the co-occurrence of spatial boundaries and temporal boundaries in the
case of team members spread across the world, we highlight our strategy for
analyzing where and when people work. In hypotheses focused solely on spatial
boundaries, we hold temporal boundaries constant by examining N=2911 pairs of
team members who are in the same time zone (and thus have an overlapping
workday). In hypotheses that address temporal boundaries and the difference
between an overlapping workday and a non-overlapping workday, we hold spatial
boundaries constant by only looking at N=3746 pairs of team members who are in
different cities. Finally, for the combination of spatial boundaries and temporal
boundaries, we create a 3-pt scale that captures N=5986 pairs of members who are in
(1) the same city with overlapping workday, (2) different cities with overlapping
workday, and (3) different cities with non-overlapping workday. In our dataset, a
traditional statistical interaction is not appropriate because there are no pairs of
members in the same city with a non-overlapping workday.
Hierarchical Linear Modeling (HLM) is used to analyze the pairs of team
members. HLM takes into account the non-independence of observations, and
adjusts the degrees of freedom to account for pairs of members nested within teams
(see [40] or [6] for additional discussion about the use of multi-level models). For the
analysis of member pairs, coordination delay is the dependent variable, and spatial
boundaries (H1a), temporal boundaries (H1b), and spatial and temporal boundaries
(H1c) are the independent variables. The moderating variables (following the
approach recommended by [4]) include informal communication (H2a), synchronous
communication (H2b), member awareness (H3a), and asynchronous communication
(H3b). Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) regression is used to analyze the association
between coordination delay and team-level performance (H4).
2 Method
2.1 Sample
Participants from a large semiconductor manufacturing firm were solicited to
participate in a study of team effectiveness. Roughly 4000 randomly sampled
managers from several large business units in the company were asked to provide the
name of a project they led in the prior 6 months along with the project start/end date
and project description. Of these managers, 380 provided project information. Then,
the same project managers were asked to complete an online survey that included
asking them to add the names of other people on the project, how much
communication they had with each person on the project, and how well the project
6 Jonathon N. CummingsP1P, J. Alberto EspinosaP2P, and Cynthia K PickeringP3P
performed. The online survey was dynamic, so once people were added by the
project manager, they were automatically sent an email message inviting them to
participate (i.e., also complete the survey).
Of the managers providing project information, 300 of them provided the names
of other people on the project. From the projects, a total of 2318 names were
generated, and 1311 of them completed the survey, for a response rate of 57%. Out
of the completed responses, we distinguish between the 1039 responses from project
managers or project members (i.e., the “core” members), and the 272 responses from
project advisors, outside experts, stakeholders, or others affiliates (i.e., the “non-
core” members). For purposes of our analyses, we only examine data from the core
members. We reduce the sample further by only including data from 625 respondents
(representing 5986 pairs of core members) who were on a project with at least one
other core member who responded. This ensures that we have at least two
assessments of team performance by core members.
Respondents in the sample worked in 54 locations across 23 countries (Belgium,
Brazil, Canada, China, Costa Rica, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Ireland,
Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, The Philippines, Poland, Russia, Singapore, South
Korea, Taiwan, The United Kingdom and the United States). Over half of the
respondents were from engineering or IT, and worked on hardware or software
projects. The typical project length was over a year and a half. Around 70% of the
respondents were male, and the average age was 38 years old. Respondents had, on
average, over 10 years of industry experience and about 5 years of experience in the
company. We developed survey questions through pilot testing with employees in
the company.
2.2 Variables
Spatial boundaries. Survey respondents were asked whether each team member
was located in the same room, same hallway, different hallway, different floor,
different building, different city, or different country. In cases where data were
missing (e.g., some respondents did not know where other members were located),
we used company database records to determine the location. Because pairs of
members in different buildings are always in the same time zone, we used city as the
cut-off for spatial boundaries (0=same city, 1=different city), since members in
different cities could be in different time zones.
Temporal boundaries. Almost 90% of the sample reported working between 9-11
hours a day, arriving 7-9am local time and departing 5-7pm local time. Therefore,
we based the measure of temporal boundaries on the time zone difference between
cities where members worked (0 = during a 9 hour workday, there was at least 1 hour
of overlap, 1 = during a 9 hour workday, there were no hours of overlap). For
example, there are only 4 time zones in the continental United States, so all pairs of
project members there have an overlapping workday. However, for pairs of project
members working in the United States and India, the time zone difference is at least
10.5, so they have a non-overlapping workday.
Spatial and temporal boundaries. The extent to which two members are separated
by spatial boundaries and temporal boundaries (1=same city with overlapping
workday, 2=different city with overlapping workday, 3=different city with non-
Spatial and temporal boundaries in global teams: Distinguishing where you work from
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7
overlapping workday). As mentioned above, this variable was used because there
were not any members located in the same city with a non-overlapping workday.
Core size. The number of core members on the project (i.e., project manager and
project members).
Time shifting. For the roughly 10% of team members reporting workday hours
outside of 7am to 7pm, we created a dummy variable to account for possible shifting
of their work time (0=no time shifting, 1=time shifting).
Years known. For each core member, the respondent reported the number of years
knowing the other person (1: < than 1 year; 2: 1 to 3 years; 3: 3 to 5 years; 4: 5 to 10
years; 5: more than 10 years).
Member interdependence. Average of a 3-item scale measuring the extent to
which team members depended on one another (i.e., tasks this person performed
were related to tasks I performed, this person depended on me for information or
materials needed to complete their work, I could not accomplish my tasks without
information or materials from this person; 1: not at all; 3: sometimes; 5: very much).
Cronbach’s α=0.90
Coordination delay. Average of a 3-item scale measuring the extent to which
there were delays in coordination (i.e., typically it took a long time to get a response
from this person, our communications required frequent clarification, we often had to
rework tasks beyond what I would normally expect; 1: disagree; 3: neutral; 5: agree).
Cronbach’s α=0.79
Synchronous communication. Core members were asked on a 5-pt scale (1:
Rarely, 2: Monthly, 3:Bi-weekly, 4: Weekly, 5: Daily) “Please mark how often,
during the past six months, you communicated with this person via… (a) Voice
Communication (e.g. telephone or voice conference). Note that though we collected
data on Synchronous Text Communication (e.g. instant messenger), we exclude it
from our analyses because it was used infrequently.
Asynchronous communication. Core members were asked on a 5-pt scale (1:
Rarely, 2: Monthly, 3:Bi-weekly, 4: Weekly, 5: Daily) “Please mark how often,
during the past six months, you communicated with this person via… (a)
Asynchronous Text Communication (e.g. e-mail).”
Informal communication. Core members were asked on a 5-pt scale (1: Rarely, 2:
Monthly, 3:Bi-weekly, 4: Weekly, 5: Daily) “Please mark how often, during the past
six months, you communicated with this person by phone, electronically, or face-to-
face … through informal or unplanned encounters.”
Member awareness. Core members were asked on a 5-pt scale (1: disagree; 3:
neutral; 5: agree) to indicate their awareness of other members with the item “I
always knew when and where to find this person.”
Team performance. Average of a 3-item scale that asked “Overall, to what extent
do you disagree or agree with the following…we completed the work on
schedule/on-time, we completed the work well within budget, the final product met
requirements (1: disagree; 3: neutral; 5: agree).” Cronbach’s α=0.81, and Intra-Class
Correlation (ICC)=0.19, p < .01, indicating that responses within teams were more
similar than those between teams, suggesting the team level of analysis is appropriate
for this variable.
8 Jonathon N. CummingsP1P, J. Alberto EspinosaP2P, and Cynthia K PickeringP3P
3 Results
The following two control variables were significantly negatively correlated with
coordination delay: years known (r = -0.14, p < .001) and member interdependence
(r = -0.21, p < .001), and remain significant throughout the HLM models (which are
available from the authors). In support of hypothesis 1a, when pairs of members
were in the same time zone, there was greater coordination delay for those in
different cities compared with those in the same city (B = 0.11, p < .01). In support
of hypothesis 1b, when pairs of members were in different cities, there was greater
coordination delay for those with non-overlapping workdays compared with those
who had overlapping workdays (B = 0.12, p < .01). In support of hypothesis 1c,
when pairs of members were in different cities and had non-overlapping workdays,
there was greater coordination delay than those with an overlapping workday in the
same city and those with an overlapping workday in a different city (B = 0.11, p <
.01).
We did not find support for hypotheses 2a or 2b. Informal communication (p =
.66) and synchronous communication (p = .38) did not negatively moderate the
relationship between spatial boundaries and coordination delay. In addition, we did
not find support for hypotheses 3a or 3b. Member awareness (B = -0.28, p < .01) and
asynchronous communication (B = -0.23, p < .01) were negatively associated with
coordination delay, thought they did not negatively moderate the relationship
between temporal boundaries and coordination delay. Rather, there was a positive
interaction effect for member awareness (B = 0.05, p < .01) and asynchronous
communication (Email: B = 0.07, p < .01). This indicates that pairs of members with
non-overlapping workdays derived significantly fewer benefits than pairs of
members with overlapping workdays who had greater member awareness and
asynchronous communication.
Finally, we found support for hypothesis 4. In an OLS model available from the
authors, coordination delay was negatively associated with performance at the team
level of analysis (B = -0.31, p < .05). Even after controlling for the same variables
used in the HLM models, we did not find a direct relationship between spatial or
temporal boundaries and team performance.
4 Discussion
We contribute to the literature on distributed work by conceptually and
empirically distinguishing between the impact of spatial boundaries and temporal
boundaries on coordination delay in global teams. While years known and member
interdependence are generally helpful for reducing coordination delay, there does not
appear to be a silver bullet for pairs of members separated by spatial and temporal
boundaries. Although we control for the amount of dependence one member has on
another member, one possible explanation for lack of interaction effects is that pairs
of global team members are engaging in non-communication activities to coordinate
their work, such as pre-established schedules, division of labor, and work routines
(March & Simon, 1958[33]). We also have not examined other factors that prior
Spatial and temporal boundaries in global teams: Distinguishing where you work from
when you work
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research has identified as being important for distributed work, such as changes in
technology use over time [31, 34], conflict among team members [20], general levels
of trust [23], and other forms of diversity in global teams [10].
We believe that focusing on pairs of members in global teams can provide insight
that aggregating to the team level does not allow. Though members work together as
part of a team, much of the work is done alone or with another member. Rarely does
an entire global team work on the same task at the same time. Therefore, by
disaggregating the team into pairs of members, we are able to better understand what
factors predict coordination delay within the team. By further demonstrating that
coordination delay is linked to overall team performance, we were able to develop a
full model of global team effectiveness that incorporates inputs (e.g., spatial and
temporal boundaries), processes (e.g., coordination delay), and outputs (e.g., team
performance) [18, 35]. It is important to highlight that spatial and temporal
boundaries do not directly affect team performance, but rather they do so indirectly
through processes such as coordination delay.
4.1 Limitations and Future Directions
In exploring global teams in a single organization, we limit the generalizability of
our results to large, multi-national organizations that have operations in many parts
of the world. Smaller companies, or firms with only a few geographic locations, may
face other issues not described in this study. We also realize that spatial boundaries
could be conceptualized as the number of miles between team members, and
temporal boundaries could be conceptualized as the number of time zones between
team members. However, in our dataset, the number of miles and number of time
zones within pairs of members were correlated r = .95, making a comparison of this
alternative conceptualization of boundaries infeasible. We encourage other
researchers to look for ways to further tease apart the impact of spatial boundaries
and temporal boundaries, for example, by examining teams with members in North
America and South America so that the spatial boundaries are greater yet the
temporal boundaries are still restricted. In our sample, most team members where
either in the same country (separated North-South) or were in different countries
(separated East-West).
We also find the issue of time shifting very interesting, even though in our study
only about 10% of respondents reported working outside of a typical workday (and it
was not associated with coordination delay). In-depth qualitative analyses and field
interviews may shed more light on the advantages and disadvantages of working
during the middle of the night, or shifting the workday to better overlap with team
members in other geographic locations. There may also be cultural differences in
how team members in different countries control their use of time, for example,
members in the US and India may differ in norms of what is acceptable
communication outside of typical business hours. There is also the issue of
transportation time, since in Europe it takes much less time to travel from one
country to another than it does to travel from the US to a country in Europe. In some
parts of the world, members can be in different cities, but have more opportunities to
10 Jonathon N. CummingsP1P, J. Alberto EspinosaP2P, and Cynthia K PickeringP3P
hold face-to-face meetings and discussions at critical points in the global team
lifecycle (e.g., beginning and middle of project).
Along with exploring differences in spatial and temporal boundaries, and how
time shifting affects global team effectiveness, there are a number of other avenues
for exploring “virtuality.” Following the lead of others (e.g., [17, 25]), we need to
learn more about the extent to which team members are supported in their use of
communication technology, as well as how members are supported when they are
apart from other members. For example, project managers who travel a lot may have
access to different levels of technology (e.g., broadband Internet access vs. dial-up
Internet access). Similarly, the technical support for communication tools may be
greater in some regions of the world than others, depending on the number of
employees at a particular site or the resources available to employees. There are
certainly an increasing number of technologies available to help team members
communicate across space and time, though it may take awhile for them to achieve
the critical mass of e-mail and the telephone.
4.1 Managerial and Technological Implications
There are many ways to manage a global team. Our results suggest that the use of
communication technology with team members who are spread across spatial and
temporal boundaries provides limited help with the problem of coordination delay.
Other aspects of the working relationship, such as how long members have known
one another and how aware they are of when and where others are working, can be
beneficial for reducing coordination delay. While member awareness can be
encouraged, team members who have just met on the team for the first time will need
additional support for building relationships.
Interestingly, the more members depend on one another, the less likely there is to
be coordination delay, which suggests that team members with greater
interdependencies can become more effective at working out problems. However,
even with an increase in all of the above factors, the impact of spatial and temporal
boundaries on coordination delay does not disappear. The findings from the
interaction effect of member awareness and asynchronous communication on
temporal boundaries also suggest an unintended consequence: pairs of members with
fewer temporal boundaries benefit from awareness and asynchronous
communication significantly more than pairs of members with greater temporal
boundaries. To reduce coordination delay, managers might consider including
members on global teams who have at least some overlap in their workday (e.g., for
team members in the US and India, having members in Europe who can help
coordinate workflow).
While many technological tools are available to team members, they each require
an investment of time and effort to learn the features, in addition to making sure
other members are also using the tools. Certainly e-mail and the telephone are
preferred in many situations, but we believe the next generation of tools will help
teams coordinate their work without relying so heavily on communication. Training
team members to better partition work, plan for dependencies in the task, and
synchronize the hand-off of individual pieces will facilitate work when members do
not have overlapping workdays, but need to be involved in the project together.
Spatial and temporal boundaries in global teams: Distinguishing where you work from
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Technology that helps with task organization, rather than simply communication,
should enable global teams affected by spatial and temporal boundaries to overcome
coordination delays. Explicitly embedding information about when and where people
are working on a global team is a step in the right direction.
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... Studies have shown that temporal separation have significant impacts on globally distributed software development projects, especially on temporal coordination (Cummings et al. 2007; Espinosa and Carmel 2003; Espinosa and Pickering 2006; Massey et al. 2003; Maznevski and Chudoba 2000). Malone and Crowston (1994) defined coordination as the management of dependencies between activities. ...
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