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Still, what has to be mentioned at this state is that the productivity is increased at the level of repetitive team tasks. In other words, when the tasks of the team are less repetitive, when they are new and involve creativity, the productivity of the team decreases. This is explained by the fact that the members in a homogenous team are alike and tend to have the same reaction to a change, and this reaction can be one of resistance.
In the context of managing an international project, the team will often be confronted with the need to reshape the team tasks in order to meet changing needs and features, such as changing legislations, changing customer needs, intensifying competition and so on. All in all then, the more important disadvantage of the homogenous team is that it is more rigid.
The homogenous teams tend to be less inclined to accept change, as they prefer the status quo and seek to preserve it. And with international projects, change is a constant necessity, but the homogenous teams reveal a larger response time and a decreased ability to react to emergent needs. This eventually materializes in the weakening of the firm's competitive position within the international market place (Ostroff and Judge, 2012).
Another disadvantage of the homogenous group within the management of the international projects is represented by the limited knowledge of the team. Specifically, all the team members possess the knowledge common within their geographical region, which may or may not be relevant in the context of the international project.
3.3. Advantages of heterogeneous teams
As it has been mentioned before, the homogenous teams are characterized by a higher degree of productivity, which is linked to the similar skills, interests and geographic positioning of the team members. In other words, there exist high levels of cohesion within the homogenous teams. Still, while the productivity on repetitive tasks is decreased within the heterogeneous teams, these are nevertheless characterized by vaster knowledge of the team members, coupled with higher degrees of creativity.
Within the context of managing international projects, challenges occur on constant basis due to the nature of the project and the challenges of international management. This means that they require a higher degree of flexibility and creativity, and the heterogeneous teams are able to meet these requirements. According to Anne Bartel-Radic (2006), the heterogeneous teams reveal higher levels of cooperation in atypical circumstances. They are better able to recognize new threats, to address them within the team and to provide more solutions than the homogenous teams.
The heterogeneous teams are formed from individuals with different and varied skill sets, which increase the overall knowledge of the team. Additionally, they create diverse teams, and diversity can constitute a powerful competitive advantage within the international market place. Kathy Daniels and Lynda a.C. McDonald (2005) point out that diversity in teams generates broader working perspectives, creativity, innovation, the promotion of capable and skilled individuals, the absence of discrimination and the superior talent management or the higher degrees of employee motivation.
All in all, the heterogeneous teams reveal the primary feature that they are formed from different individuals across the globe, which possess different skill sets, different insights, backgrounds and abilities to understand their national context. The combination of these features means that the heterogeneous team is more suitable in the context of international project management. This finding is also supported by Anne Bartel-Radic (2006), who finds that the heterogeneous teams constitute the core of the globalization process and that they should be present in each organizational setting.
3.4. Disadvantages of heterogeneous teams
The heterogeneous teams, aside from the multitude of advantages revealed, also present a series of limitations, some of the more notable of them include a decreased productivity, poorer communication abilities, cultural barriers, or the disadvantages of diversity.
The heterogeneous teams may encounter numerous geographic challenges, such as the possibility for them to be operating in different time zones, which impedes effective and immediate communications. Solving current problems would as such imply more time consumption and larger times for solutions to be implemented. In other words, the heterogeneous teams might face delays in completing projects.
Then, in the context of international project management, the team members might belong to different cultures, which would also raise a series of disadvantages. For instance, the team members might speak different languages, meaning that they would have to find a common ground in order to be able to communicate. The multinational company could even encounter productivity delays and financial expenditures due to processes of language teaching to its foreign employees.
Then, the heterogeneous teams, however creative, innovative and flexible, are less productive since they reveal lower degrees of cohesion. The employees are not all in the same space, are unable to communicate effectively and are not united by the same vision, culture and leadership style. This creates frictions and can lead to lower levels of productivity; this productivity nevertheless refers to structured and repetitive tasks, which are better performed within homogenous teams.
The heterogeneous teams are characterized by an abundance of creative ideas, generated by people across the globe. While this feature is useful in international project management, it can also be detrimental to the internal construct of the team. For instance, it can happen for an innovative idea to be issued and for it to not be well understood by the others, due to differences in communication, as well as differences in backgrounds and skills.
In the absence of team homogeneity, the team members can become easily distanced by the differences which separate them. For instance, the people in different regions might belong to different social groups, and the appurtenance of such groups leads to their categorization by other team members. This issue represents the most powerful downside of diversity and heterogeneity within the team and it can be attributed to team conflicts, tensions, low performances, or even the possibility for the team to break up (Forsyth, 2009).
Based on the assessment conducted previously, the homogenous and heterogeneous groups both reveal challenges and opportunities in managing international projects. And the selection of the type of team to use ultimately falls in the hands of the manager, based on the particularities of the project, the individuals involved, the responsibilities, the available resources and so on. Still, in the context of the current project, it is recommended that the heterogeneous teams be used in the management of international projects, since these reveal the highest capacity to respond to the issues characteristic to the management of projects by multinational corporations.
Still, what has to be noted at this level is the fact that the heterogeneous teams do reveal a series of shortages, which have to be addressed. As it has been mentioned throughout the previous section, the major shortages of heterogeneous teams are represented by the decreased productivity, the poor communications, the cultural barriers and the disadvantages of diversity.
In order to address the productivity issues within heterogeneous teams, it is useful to develop the sense of the team in an open manner, in which the employees feel empowered to make and participate in decisions, and where they are rewarded for their contributions (Landskroner, ). In the context of international and heterogeneous teams, it is necessary to remember that these teams reveal lower productivity for structured tasks, yet their international management responsibilities are seldom structured and repetitive. In such a setting then, the recommendation is to use the team for creativity purposes, rather than structured and repetitive tasks; for such endeavors, the local homogenous team would be a more appropriate selection.
At the level of the poor communications among the team members in the heterogeneous team, these should be approached through the creation of a working environment focused on communications and feedback. Additionally, the teams should be maintained at small sizes in order to reduce the complexity of communications. Then, the team members should rely on e-mail as an easily accessible and cost effective means of communication, but should also seek to get the team members to communicate face-to-face, or even through teleconferences, so that the bonds between them are solidified (Schwalbe, 2008).
In terms of the cultural barriers and the disadvantages of diversity, these are best addressed through the creation of a working environment that cherishes and embraces diversity. At the level of practical impediments, these would be addressed through practical solutions. For instance, the language barriers would be overcome through the provision of language training sessions in order to ensure that all team members are able to effectively communicate in a pre-selected language. Such a measure could even be perceived as an incentive by the team members, who enjoy the development of new skills (Aamodt, 2012).
In order to further stimulate the productivity and satisfaction of the team members, it is also useful to adequately reward and recognize their efforts. In terms of recognition, it is important for the manager to assess the efforts of the employees and to celebrate their accomplishments. The managers…[continue]
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