LeCroy, for example, invested in activities associated with the Renewal stage. SAP, on the other hand,
mainly invested in activities associated with the Introduction and Build-Up stages. Most companies will
tend to engage in activities associated with the Introduction stage to introduce newcomers when a new
project is assembled.
What implications does this study have for team
development? In line with past research we have
observed that development of globally distributed
teams faces unique challenges induced by geographical and cultural differences, thus requiring management’s intervention in supporting the timely
development of a team from “forming, through
storming and norming to performing” [ 5]. Furthermore, from a social ties perspective, we observed that
our globally distributed teams had to “re-norm” from
time to time, mainly because newcomers joined and
changed the dynamics of interpersonal ties within dispersed teams. In addition, disagreements and miscommunications arose even in late stages of the
project due to fading interpersonal ties. For this reason, we recommend that managers consider “
re-norming” dispersed teams and renewing social ties
through bonding activities, such as short visits or F2F
meetings—both in the early stages of the team development and the later stages, when social ties may fade
and affect collaborative work.
To act upon the model noted here, managers could
consider various activities at the individual, team, and
organizational levels (see Table 2). Activities within
each level contribute to the development of social
interactions across the entire organization. For example, language lessons offered at the introductory stage
are likely to contribute to one-on-one interactions
when the build-up of social ties is taking place, and
these lessons will also support direct communications
when ties are renewed.
Prior to introducing specific activities, managers
should ascertain the dispersed team’s current stage.
Teams in the Introduction stage, for example, require
different types of activity to support the build-up of
social ties than teams in the Renewal stage. Furthermore, as the project progresses and remote counterparts get to know each other and establish a
collaborative mode, renewing these social ties may
require only a subset of the activities offered in Table
2. In this regard, the activities offered in Table 2 are
not a recipe for building and renewing social ties but
rather represent a set of possibilities from which managers can choose when attempting to strengthen social
ties between team members. Comprised of a unique
assortment of unique individuals, each team differs in
how it bonds with others, thus requiring a different
set of activities that support the renewal of these social
ties. It is the manager’s responsibility to sense, analyze,
and apply the most appropriate and timely activity, to
ensure that social ties are renewed, and collaborative
work is improved [ 5].
Lastly, the renewal and the strengthening of interpersonal relationships may benefit from staffing project teams based on their shared past experience in
addition to their set of skills and expertise. Through
such considerations, firms may reduce the costs associated with the initial development of social ties and
focus more on activities that aim at renewing interpersonal relationships. c
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ILAN OSHRI ( firstname.lastname@example.org) is an associate professor of strategy and
technology management at the Rotterdam School of Management in
Erasmus, the Netherlands.
JULIA KOTLARSKY ( email@example.com) is an assistant professor
of information systems at the Warwick Business School in Coventry,
LESLIE WILLCOCKS (l. firstname.lastname@example.org) is a professor of work,
technology, and globalization at the London School of Economics and
Political Science, U.K.
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