Is it all about culture? A study on frustration with respect to the work situation in dispersed, global IT projects at a merged, multinational company
Paper in proceedings, 2011
This article reports on the difficulties, peculiar to dispersed global projects, which may be a source of frustration to project members. Our study was carried out within a multinational pharmaceutical company, which following a merger reorganized its IT organization into global organisation. Members of the Swedish part of its IT organization reported severe problems after the reorganization, and called for an investigation. The reported problems were global projects struggling with cultural differences and, as a consequence, overconsuming their allotted resources. However, previous research regarding merged organizations has found, that complaints about cultural differences might be a mask for other problems.
Our findings do include cultural differences being an obstacle to project performance. However, we identified project complexity and geographical distance as two additional, important factors explaining frustration and low performance in the global, dispersed projects. Thus, our study supports the earlier theory that practitioners overload the concept cultural differences, ignoring that global projects typically involve more stakeholders, and that it is more challenging to create the trust among the dispersed team members necessary to create a high-performing team.
Global projects can be expected to reach a climate of high-performing team later than a local project, leaving its members to performing less during a longer time. Consequently, and putting other advantages aside, if management fail to develop a successful global team strategy, such projects can be expected to be more costly to the company, and more frustrating to team members being used to quickly reaching a high-performing state. Such a strategy would need to include ways of motivating project members to actively build trustful relations.