Cultural Differences affecting Virtual Team Communication during Meetings - A Case Study at an Automotive Industry Company

Examensarbete för masterexamen
Master Thesis
Östergren, Rebecka
Using virtual teams have become more common as this creates an opportunity to work together placed at different locations in the world. The collaborations therefore also come across cultural diversities within the team. Though, this kind of team constellation brings challenges with it as well. The team members do not have the same opportunity to meet in real life and therefore virtual meetings become an important part in the everyday work. The purpose of the research is to clarify how cultural differences can affect virtual team communication during meetings. Therefore the aim of this research is to define challenges and success factors for virtual team meetings. A qualitative research design was chosen as the method for the research and includes a case study performed at an automotive industry company placed in Gothenburg which consist of two main national cultures, Sweden and China. A self-completion questionnaire, observation and semi-structured interviews were carried out with participants from different virtual teams at the case company. The empirical findings show that there are many challenges within a team consisting of two very different national cultures. Therefore the conclusion drawn from the research, shows that it is important to understand and accept the cultural differences. If an understanding for the other culture can be created, it will improve the collaboration between the team members. This will in turn improve the communication and also the meetings. However, the case company’s identified technical issues have to be solved first so the colleagues can communicate properly in order to manage the other challenges. A recommendation for the case company is to make sure that the Swedish and Chinese colleagues will have an opportunity to meet early in the project in order for them to create a relationship between each other. The relationship will create a better communication and by that more effective meetings.
Samhällsbyggnadsteknik, Civil Engineering
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