Offshore-Onsite Team Dynamics: Applications of the 24-Hour Knowledge Factory
University of Modena and Reggio Emilia
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
March 5, 2008
Purpose: Starting from the observation that new types of distributed work arrangements across organizational and national borders are emerging, we decided to investigate a particular type of globally distributed team (GDT): the 24-hour knowledge factory, where individuals work around the clock or follow the sun. Our research question is: How do individuals share knowledge during hand offs and what are the factors that affect the hand off process in GDTs adopting the 24-hour knowledge factory model?.
Methodology/Approach: We conducted an interview based qualitative study to conduct detailed investigation of the internal processes of 8 GDTs using the 24-hour knowledge factory model, in Indian organizations involved in offshoring of knowledge intensive work with Western clients, and we coded our evidence using a grounded theory approach (Strauss and Corbin, 1998).
Findings: Our grounded theory shows that, in GDTs adopting the 24-hour knowledge factory model, knowledge sharing during hand offs across locations is hampered by the emergence of status differentials across team members with similar expertise, position, organizational affiliation and ethnicity. The negative effect of status differentials is mitigated by the perception of closeness with an external party - the client.
Practical implications: Our work has practical implications for organizations that want to adopt the 24-hour knowledge factory model to achieve a faster (and cheaper) development of products and services. To make a GDT work around the clock, an organization should not only place attention to technical issues (such as acquiring sophisticated and rich collaborative technologies), but also to potentially disrupting team dynamics that may emerge across subgroups.
Originality/value of paper: Overall, this work contributes to a better understanding of the interplay between status differentials, synchronization, and knowledge transfer in globally distributed teams.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 34
Keywords: 24 hour knowledge factory, offshoring, status differentials, knowledge sharing, group synchronization
Date posted: March 6, 2008