Virtual Teams as Part of Internationalization of Higher Education
Chydenius, Tarja; Jadin, Tanja (2017)
University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria
Julkaisun pysyvä osoite on
Worklife is becoming increasingly international and intercultural. With improved online interaction and new ways of working multicultural virtual teams are becoming a routine. In order to interact effectively and efficiently in the networked professional environments practice for higher education students is of utmost importance. Building intercultural competence and experimenting with multicultural virtual teams as part of pedagogical internationalization must be systematic. Successful internationalization of education depends on activities on three levels: institutional, faculty and students (Lauridsen & Cozart 2015). Trust, relationship building, cohesion, cooperation, communication, team-related attributes and tasks are crucial for successful virtual team cooperation (Hertel, Geister & Konradt, 2005; Baruch & Lin, 2012). In order to explore for further prerequisites of effective cross-cultural virtual cooperation in an educational setting a group of Finnish and Austrian master level students were given an assignment to organize multicultural virtual teams and study aspects of intercultural work. Six virtual teams were formed with only a broad assignment brief with the objective of finding out factors hindering or facilitating a successful intercultural virtual team cooperation from the subjective students’ point of view. After a three weeks’ long co-operation both student groups filled in a similar qualitative questionnaire about the intercultural virtual team experiences. The questionnaires were analyzed with content analysis by means of different criteria i.e. cooperation and collaboration, technical platforms, satisfaction and perceived challenges. The results were additionally analyzed in view of intercultural differences. The students were very satisfied and appreciated the possibility for the virtual international team work. Based on the results following recommendations for enhancing intercultural knowledge in virtual teams are presented: considering obligations and time (especially for para-occupational education), clear assignments, a set of recommended tools for communication and collaboration, scaffolding students in different steps i.e. team formation, common ground for group work and intercultural awareness.