M. Koplin1, S. Mueller2, J. Schiffmann3

1M2C Institute for Applied Media Technology and Culture, at the University of Applied Sciences Bremen (GERMANY)
2Simone Müller Consulting (GERMANY)
3ZIM Center for Intercultural Management, University of Applied Sciences Bremen (GERMANY)
Innovation and knowledge building are the important factors for the future of societies in a changing world. The demographic change will also have a major impact. A central objective is optimize the competence to co-operate. Therein intercultural and virtual team management, training, E-learning and process moderation are essential key aspects for successful co-operations and sustainable development in all areas.

Innovative Learning and consulting methods
For to enhance smart Innovation and creativity (SMARTIC) we developed the Cross-Cultural Business and Virtual Team Communication Training Platform CCBM/TRAILS. This is a cross-cultural business and virtual team communication analyzing, training and E-learning platform based on a highly experienced analysis, awareness and training tools bases on a blended learning methodology. The platform is used in the European SMARTIC innovation network. It supports the competence building for virtual teams, intercultural encounters and diversity and will be presented at the ICERI2013:

Challenges and efforts for virtual teams
Research on virtual distance has shown that teams with a high virtual distance have an over 50% reduction in project success, not to mention a significant decrease in work satisfaction, trust, clarity in goals and innovation (Sobel Lojeski and Reilly, 2008). However if a virtual team uses its diversity to its advantage and operates in a high trust environment, this team can be more successful than traditional on-site teams. The increase in improved ICTs not necessarily brings about the “death of distance”. Even though there is limitless technical access (connection) between the virtual workforce, the potential benefits of the virtual collaboration can be negated by the technologies that made this setting possible, as the virtual team members often perceive a virtual distance (disconnection) between them, called the connectivity paradox. Within TRAILS virtual team members get trained to generate a psychologically safe communication climate. In such a positive team environment, the geographical distribution was seen as a less challenging, even perceived as a strength (Gibson and Gibbs, 2006) for to enhance innovation and creativity.

Challenges related to intercultural management
Cross-cultural differences and conflicts can be an obstacle for innovation and creativity. It is not easy to recognize these barriers. Leading a multicultural team is a special challenge. It is about knowing the cultural backgrounds that might be problematic and recognize them as capability for to support innovation and creativity. Team members get trained to solve intercultural problems in their team by their own. In human-resource departments and higher management levels the awareness of cross-cultural trainings is now growing.

Challenges related to diversity-management
Nowadays organizations and enterprises are more than ever places for cultural encounters and reflect the cultural diversity of our society. Cultural diversity in this context is not only related to ethnic differences, but also for a variety concerning to age, gender, religion, social level or physical ability. To handle these differences training for diversity-management gets more and more important for the success of organizations and enterprises. Diversity-Management is an active and conscious process for developing a value related strategies in innovation and creativity.