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Global Talent Teams: Virtual Redistribution

Traditionally, talent mobility has been connected with the physical movement of the person possessing that talent. With the extraordinary development of communication technologies and computer-mediated communication (CMC), however, talent can now be utilized and redistributed electronically and virtually.

By definition, MNCs operate in and are confronted with discontinuities. Discontinuities are factors such as physical locations, time zone differences, and differing national cultures that fracture continuity and tend to reduce organizational cohesiveness [86-88]. Discontinuities can potentially localize the otherwise extended operations of the organization, disrupt flows of information, and inhibit the mobility of talent. Since the 1990s, it has become increasingly common for organizations to use CMC to bridge the natural discontinuity that they encounter, recognizing that the distributed efforts of separated contributors can be effectively brought together into a collective whole. Bringing distributed talent together via virtual work group solves many logistical issues, but it also presents difficulties. The dynamics of managing communication and the processes of sharing knowledge differ from face-to face meeting partly because of channel richness, but even if channel richness is optimal, participants still have to deal with different national cultures and with the ‘common’ working language used by the work group [89, 90].

National culture difference can become apparent in the different assumption, beliefs, and accepted behaviors that group members hold. For instance, national culture differences can exist in dimensions such as power differences, notions of individualism and collectivism, the avoidance or acceptance of uncertainty, and differences in long or short-term orientations [91]. All of these nationally held assumptions, values, and norms can shape and potentially distort the sharing of knowledge [92, 93]. Individual national culture differences between team members and the national composition of the team also impact its outcomes, but as yet there is no clear understanding as to how these elements interact or moderate one another [94, 95]. Of particular interest are the different ways in which national culture might moderate different understandings of virtuality and of the process of collaboration in virtual environments [94, 96].

Additional problems and challenges can present themselves in the language used by the virtual group. Although English tends to be the most commonly used language, participants may possess significantly different levels of language understanding and comprehension that may adversely impact the group’s performance and knowledge sharing effectiveness. Virtual environments—even those that have significant channel richness and which incorporate synchronous visual elements— tend to reduce many of the nuances of communication and intended meaning [9799].

Global work teams provide a simple but effective way of mobilizing talent within the MNC. Their virtual nature means that the participants only have a partial immersion in the stimulating difference that exists within the different parts of the organization. Nevertheless, the virtual redistribution of talent can provide significant advantages for participants and the MNC [100, 101]. Additionally, the implementation of virtual global networks offers a significant HR architecture for facilitating talent mobility and signals, an organizational commitment to recognizing, rewarding, and nurturing that talent which it possesses.

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