T. Ryser1, M.P. Ganesh2, A. Moreno3, H. Schulze1

1University of Applied Science Northwestern Switzerland (SWITZERLAND)
2IIT Madras, Departement of Management Studies (DoMS) (INDIA)
3Universidad Polit├ęcnica de Madrid; Escuela Polit├ęcnica Superior de Ingenieros Industriales (SPAIN)
Global and virtual teams that transcend time and cultural boundaries are more and more prevalent in the business world today (Connaughton and Shuffler 2007). Working in global and virtual teams means to manage complex team dynamics due to cultural heterogeneity regarding different national and organizational belongings, aspects of geographical distance and computer mediated communication. Preparing undergraduate students to the complexity of collaboration in such environments poses specific methodological and didactical challenges. Studies of teaching intercultural competences show that experiential learning methods coupled with a phase of didactical preparation show the best effects for enhancing competencies like intercultural knowledge and reflexive capabilities among students. Those methodologies also help to develop more effective strategies in an intercultural setting (Behrnd 2010).
In this contribution an experiential didactical concept for developing and assessing competences for successful global and virtual collaboration will be presented. Our concept is based on a review of literature on the education of intercultural and computer mediated communication competences as well as onfield experiments regarding global and virtual team dynamics. The concept follows the experiential learning cycle proposed by Kolb (1984). We already could conduct two collaborative student courses based on the developed concept. Teams constituting of Indo-Spain and Indo-Swiss students were formed and were asked to work on collaborative student projects. At the core of the concept a task affording collaboration was placed: The students from the Indian and from the Swiss or Spanish side had to extract divergent information regarding the cultural context, the local market constraints in order to creatively integrate these different perspectives into one marketing concept which could be implemented in both countries. The mentioned team tasks address the most critical challenges of global and virtual team collaborations and should enable an experiential learning process by allowing a reflection on critical incidents evoked by the challenges. On the level of the secondary task reflexive and metacognitive capabilities should be developed that allow the students to adapt to challenges of intercultural virtual collaboration by arriving at effective behavioral strategies.
By analyzing the self-reflective assessment of critical incidents made by the students a first concept and assessment method for global and virtual collaboration competence was developed. According to this pragmatic conceptualization global and virtual collaboration competences are understood as the students ability to recognize central challenges, the depth of students reflection about perceived incidents and the following learning process regarding the development of effective behavioral strategies in a context defined by cultural diversity and virtuality. The validated course concept of combining realistic hands-on-experience with data collection and reflection can be used to develop and assess global and virtual collaboration competences. Additionally the reflected experiences regarding the courses will be presented in form of guidelines for implementation.