Sharing Knowledge in Global Virtual Teams

How Do Chinese Team Members Perceive the Impact of National Cultural Differences on Knowledge Sharing?
  • Kangning Wei
Part of the IFIP International Federation for Information Processing book series (IFIPAICT, volume 236)


Virtual teams have been seen as a promising way of organizing work for organizations to cope with the current rapidly changing business environment. Issues concerning virtual teams have received considerable attention in both the academic and practical world. In this paper, a case study approach was used to explore Chinese perceptions of the impact of national cultural difference (China vs. U.S.) on knowledge sharing activities in global virtual teams. Four cultural dimensions (language, education, technology and material culture, and attitudes and values) were identified. The final results show that language has the most salient impact on an individual’s knowledge sharing activities, followed by education, attitudes and values, and technology and material culture. Individual characteristics, organizational culture, time zone problems and leadership style all have a mediated impact on knowledge sharing activities.


Knowledge Management Knowledge Sharing Material Culture Cultural Dimension Leadership Style 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. 1.
    A. Jashapara, The Emerging Discourse of Knowledge Management: A New Dawn for Information Science Research, Journal of Information Science 31(2), 136 (2005).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    R. M. Grant, Toward a Knowledge-based Theory of The Firm, Strategic Management Journal 17(Winter special Issue), 109 (1996).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    N-I. Boer, P. J. v. Baalen, and K. Kumar, An Activity Theory Approach for Studying the Situatedness of Knowledge Sharing, paper presented at the 35th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, Big Island, Hawaii, Jan. 07–10 2002.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    D. P. Ford and Y. E. Chan, Knowledge Sharing in a Multi-cultural Setting: A Case Study, Knowledge Management Research & Practice 1(1), 11 (2003).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    D. Constant, S. Kiesler, and L. Sproull, What’s Mine Is Ours, or Is It? A Study of Attitudes About Information Sharing, Information Systems Research 5(4), 400 (1994).Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    M. Alavi and A. Tiwana, Knowledge Integration in Virtual Teams: The Potential Roles of KMS, Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 53(12), 1029(2002).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    A. Powell, G. Piccoli, and B. Ives, Virtual Teams: A Review of Current Literature and Directions for Future Research, The DATA BASE for Advances in Information Systems 35(1), 6 (2004).Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    A. M. Townsend, S. M. DeMarie, and A. R. Hendrickson, Virtual Teams: Technology and the Workplace of the Future, Academy of Management Executive 12(3), 17 (1998).Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    G. Piccoli and B. Ives, Trust and the Unintended Effects of Behavior Control in Virtual Teams, MIS Quarterly 27(3), 365 (2003).Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    D. Sole and L. Applegate, Knowledge Sharing Practices and Technology Use Norms in Dispersed Development Teams, paper presented at the International Conference in Information Systems, Brisbane, Australia, December 10–13 2000.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    A. Majchrzak, A. Malhotra, and R. John, Perceived Individual Collaboration Know-how Development Through Information Technology-enabled Contextualization: Evidence from Distributed Teams, Information Systems Research 16(1), 9 (2005).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    M. B. Watson-Manheim, K. Crowston, and K. M. Chudoba, A New Perspective on “Virtual”: Analyzing Discontinuities in the Work Environment, paper presented at the 35th Hawaii International conference on System Sciences, Big Island, Hawaii, January 07–10 2002.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    B. Katzy, R. Evaristo, and I. Zigurs, Knowledge Management in Virtual Projects: a Research Agenda, paper presented at the 33rd Hawaii International conference on System Sciences, Maui, Hawaii, Jan 4–7 2000.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    J. E. Nemiro, The Glue That Binds Creative Virtual Teams, in: Knowledge Management and Virtual Organizations, edited by Y. Malhotra (Idea Group Publishing, Hershey PA, 2000), pp. 101–123.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    S. Furst, R. Blackburn, and B. Rosen, Virtual Team Effectiveness: A Proposed Research Agenda, Information Systems Journal 9(4), 249 (1999).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    S. L. Jarvenpaa and D. S. Staples, The Use of Collaborative Electronic Media for Information Sharing: An Exploratory Study of Determinants, Journal of Strategic Information Systems 9(2–3), 129 (2000).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    V. Anand, C. C. Manz, and W. H. Glick, An Organizational Memory Approach to Information Management, Academy of Management Review 23(4), 796 (1998).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    P. R. Carlile, A Pragmatic View of Knowledge and Boundaries: Boundary Objects in New Product Development, Organization Science 13(4), 442 (2002).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    N. Levina and E. Vaast, The Emergence of Boundary Spanning Competence in Practice: Implications for Implementation and Use of Information Systems, MIS Quarterly 29(2), 335 (2005).Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    M. Alavi and D. E. Leidner, Review: Knowledge Management and Knowledge Management Systems: Conceptual Foundations and Research Issues, MIS Quarterly 25(1), 107(2001).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    J. S. Edwards, M. Handzic, S. Carlsson, and M. Nissen, Knowledge Management Research & Practice: Visions and Directions, Knowledge Management Research & Practice 1(1), 49 (2003).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    A. Malhotra and A. Majchrzak, Enabling Knowledge Creation in Far-flung Teams: Best Practices for IT Support and Knowledge Sharing, Journal of Knowledge Management 8(4), 75 (2004).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    C. M. Ridings, D. Gefen, and B. Arinze, Some Antecedents and Effects of Trust in Virtual Communities, Journal of Strategic Information Systems 11(3–4), 271 (2002).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    C. U. Ciborra, and R. Andreu, Sharing Knowledge Across Boundaries, Journal of Information Technology 16(2), 73 (2001).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    D. J. Pauleen, Lessons Learned Crossing Boundaries in an ICT-supported Distributed Team, Journal of Global Information Management 11(4), 1 (2003).Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    M. R. Subramani and B. Rajaropalan, Knowledge-sharing and Influence in Online Social Networks via Viral Marketing, Communications of the ACM 46(12ve), 300 (2003).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    W. J. Orlikowski, Knowing in Practice: Enacting a Collective Capability in Distributed Organizing, Organization Science 13(3), 249 (2002).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    I. Nonaka, A Dynamic Theory of Organizational Knowledge Creation, Organization Science 5(1), 14(1994).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    B. B. Pentland, Organizing Moves in Software Support Hot Lines, Administrative Science Quarterly 37(4), 527 (1992).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    J. N. Cummings, Work Groups, Structural Diversity, and Knowledge Sharing in a Global Organization, Management Science 50(3), 352 (2004).CrossRefMathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    M. Alavi and D. E. Leidner, Knowledge Management Systems: Issues, Challenges, and Benefits, Communications of AIS 1 (article 7), (1999).Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    M. L. Kaarst-Brown and D. Robey, More on Myth, Magic and Metaphor: Cultural Insights into the Management of Information Technology in Organizations, Information, Technology & People 12(2), 192 (1999).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    M. Alvesson, Understanding Organizational Culture (SAGE Publications, Thousand Oaks, California, 2002).Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    M. L. Kaarst-Brown, Understanding an Organization’s View of the CIO, MIS Quarterly Executive 4(2), 287 (2005).Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    V. Terpstra and R. Sarathy, International Marketing (The Dryden Press, Hinsdale, Illinois, ed. 8th, 2000).Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    E. Karahanna, J. R. Evaristo, and M. Srite, Levels of Culture and Individual Behavior: An Integrative Perspective, Journal of Global Information Management 13(2), 1 (2005).Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    D. E. Leidner and T. Kayworth, A Review of Culture in Information Systems Research: Toward a Theory of Information Technology Culture Conflict, MIS Quarterly 30(2), 357 (2006).Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    G. Hofstede, Cultural Constraints in Management Theories, Academy of Management Executive 7(1), 81 (1993).Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    W. B. Gudykunst and Y. Y. Kim, Communicating With Strangers: an Approach to Intercultural Communication (McGraw-Hill, New York, NY, ed. 4th, 2003).Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    R. K. Yin, Case Study Research: Design and Methods (SAGE Publications, Beverly Hills, CA, ed. 2nd, 1984).Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    K. Krippendorff, Content Analysis: an Introduction to Its Methodology, edited by F. G. Kline, The Sage CommText Series (SAGE Publications, Beverly Hills, London, 1986).Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    M. Yuan and D. Vogel, Cultural Impact on Intergroup Coordination in Software Development in China: a Qualitative Analysis, paper presented at the 39th Hawaii International Conference on Systems Sciences, Hyatt Regency Kauai, January 4–7 2006.Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    D. W. D. Long and L. Fahey, Diagnosing Cultural Barriers to Knowledge Management, The Academy of Management Executive 14(4), 113 (2000).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© International Federation for Information Processing 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kangning Wei
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Information StudiesSyracuse UniversitySyracuseUSA

Personalised recommendations