E. Verreault, D. Fortier

Bishop's University (CANADA)
As technology continues to bridge physical distances in an increasingly globalized world, organizations are turning to multicultural global virtual teams (MGVTs) praising their flexibility, responsiveness, lower costs, and improved resource utilization, essential criteria in today’s dynamic global business world (Jarvenpaa & Leidner, 1999). Although previous research has argued for the legitimacy of Tuckman’s (1965) stages of group development, namely forming, storming, norming and performing, as a strong theoretical base for curricula design in MGVT management (Verreault, 2010), there remains a lack of significant scientific literature to help us train managers more thoroughly to optimize performance within each of the four stages. This article will therefore seek to contribute to this goal by focusing on the third stage, norming, in order to 1) illustrate its complex nature and 2) identify key behaviours or best practices that foster and sustain commitment to norms in a MGVT setting. The theoretical model for fostering and sustaining commitment to norms in MGVT is designed as a three-legged stool illustrating the three fundamental elements that ensure commitment to norms, namely payoff, acceptance and influence (Mark, 2002). The model also highlights key behaviours associated with each fundamental element, or leg, in order to foster and sustain commitment to norms. Lastly, the visual model suggests the legs are held together by the shared social reality emphasized in the literature (Graham, 2003; Mark, 2002). The proposed model is conceptual in nature but rests upon empirical research dealing with key behaviours that lead to commitment and trust building in virtual settings (Mark, 2002; Jarvenpaa & Leidner, 1999). We argue that these behaviours can be integrated into a model that not only facilitates understanding but that is also easy to recall. We believe that the imagery of this model is very intuitive and practical and should prove valuable for educational and training purposes.