Cultural and temporal structural holes: empirical evidence of broker behavior in cross-cultural global virtual teams

Marc Idelson, Lynda Song, Jinlong Zhu, Li Zhu, Yuki Yasuda


Focus of Sunbelt 2020 communication. We plan to share our structural analysis of broker behavior within global virtual teams working simultaneously and independently on a standardized set of tasks over a set period in order to produce a standard output. The 4,135 team members, based in 88 countries, were assigned to 924 teams randomly at session start. 824 successfully produced a report. For this prime exploration of the first dataset in this context designed from a network perspective, we will limit our empirical investigations to static structural multilevel network analysis, including node, structural, dyadic, and triadic traits (e.g. network constraint, density, mutual tie density, or asymmetric triad ratio) and their mutual interplay with team-level traits (such as cultural breadth, time zone range, report creativity, or report quality) and individual traits (such as negative affectivity, cultural intelligence, or English fluency), focusing specifically on brokerage potential. Among the novel hypotheses to be explored are : - cultural structural holes predict leadership roles; - temporal structural holes moderate leadership effectiveness; - work relationship structural holes has a curvilinear effect on team task performance. Negative ties inspiration. Following our communication on intra-team conflicts at the negative ties conference-within-a-conference held at Sunbelt 2019, we continue our exploration of an empirical dataset that has produced over 40 scholarly publications since 2013, none of which approach the set in question from a network perspective. In Fall 2019, in order to study brokerage causes and effects, we collected 14,700 non null peer-to-peer data sets measuring, per our specifications, closeness of working relationship, frequency of communications, coordination and leadership roles, and conflict, as well individual traits such as Big5. Peer-perceived creativity, amiability, topical expertise, English fluency, and cultural intelligence, among others, were also measured during the session. Empirical context. Several times a year, X-Culture operates a two-sided platform where undergraduate and postgraduate students produce in global virtual teams an international business plan for an existing company to enter a new country with an existing or new offer. At session start, the X-Culture platform forms teams with 5 or 6 members, based in 5 or 6 countries. Participants fill an initial survey prior to team assignment. For the next 8 weeks, team members progress on intelligence gathering, analysis, and report writing, and fill surveys weekly within which they assess their peers. After the team files its report, a final survey with more peer assessment is undertaken to wrap up the session. An exclusion process also exists. Further empirical exploration. A future dynamic network analysis of communication patterns, interpersonal conflicts, and exclusion events will focus on three periods in each session: mid term situation, ultimate rush to polish to the final report/output, and post session perspective —experience as instructors has taught us the team formation period is subject to too many exogenous factors, including contrasting national and institutional calendars of participants, to safely infer anything.

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