This study investigates differences in communication that exist among native English speakers (NSs) and non-native English speakers (NNSs) on global virtual teams (GVTs) where English is the lingua franca, or common working language. Four communication influences - language, culture, technology, and collaboration - are at the center of this inquiry. A hybrid theoretical framework is proposed, comprised of a dichotomy of virtual Communities of Practice (VCoPs) and intercultural communication (emphasizing national cultures), aligning with the shifting nature of GVTs that increasingly resemble CoPs. Three key findings emerged from interviews with 21 NS and 29 NNS professionals about their memorable experiences on GVTs. First, while NSs and NNSs had many similar and different experiences on GVTs, NNSs had more challenges overall than NSs in the four categories of language, culture, technology and collaboration. Second, language was a critical factor overwhelmingly noted by NNSs, as compared to NSs, that deserves additional attention beyond its link to cultural differences in general. Third, belongingness was a critical factor noted by both NSs and NNSs that should be leveraged for greater collaboration in GVTs. Three key implications relating to these findings are discussed. First, encouraging and creating wider awareness of the nature and dynamics of GVTs will promote better team collaboration through understanding communication challenges for NSs and NNSs. Second, designing a foundational blueprint for professional learning and development opportunities will help workplace practitioners increase knowledge and build competencies for successful participation on GVTs. Third, building on this study's findings will spur future contributions in GVT scholarship for technical and professional communication and business communication. In particular, integrating a hybrid framework of VCoPs and intercultural communication will serve as a valuable mechanism through which to view communication differences on GVTs. Given that the nature of GVTs continues to evolve based on the shifting global work environment, future collaborative partnerships between researchers and practitioners will benefit communication-related academic disciplines and industries.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. December 2014. Major: Rhetoric and Scientific and Technical Communication. Advisor: Lee-Ann Kastman Breuch. 1 computer file (PDF); viii, 314 pages, appendices 1-2.
Goettsch, Karin L..
Understanding intercultural communication on global virtual teams: exploring challenges of language, culture, technology, and collaboration.
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