Challenging New Ways of Working for Remote Managers in Global Collaborative Work Environments
Book chapter, 2011
Global teamwork, mobile work and telework require new ways of organizing and managing work across several locations. New information and communication technologies (ICT) facilitate work to be performed without being bound to a particular place or time (Gareis, Lilischkis & Mentrup, 2006; Vartiainen, 2008). These types of organizing work are stimulated even more by the economic climate in which companies try to reduce real estate, travel, as well as development and personnel costs, while at the same time outsourcing and off-shoring their functions. Several streams of research discuss these issues, such as telework (Sullivan, 2003; Felstead, Jewson & Walters, 2005), studying work from home and other places outside the main workplace. Others discuss distributed work (Bell & Kozlowski, 2002; Jarvenpaa & Leidner, 1999; Majchrzak, Rice, Malhotra, King & Ba, 2000) and focus on issues, such as the impact of distance (Armstrong & Cole, 1995; Hinds & Kiesler, 2001), trust (Jarvenpaa & Leidner, 1998; Zolin, Hinds, Fruchter & Levitt, 2004), confl icts (Hinds & Bailey, 2003) and cultural differences (Zakaria, Amelinckx & Wilemon, 2004). Other researchers study mobility, where work is performed in multiple locations and focus on the impact of mobility on work and productivity for both the fi rm and employee (Gareis et al., 2006; Hislop & Axtell, 2009; Vartiainen & Hyrkkänen, 2010). In all these studies, the challenge is how to manage these new ways of working. Large corporate teams typically engage middle managers that report to their superiors and coordinate team member activities. Managers working in global and mobile collaborative work environments often work in multiple teams (cf. Mortensen, Woolley & O’Leary, 2007) having to play a dual role, on one hand, managing global team members and, on the other hand, being team members in the management group that reports to their superior. Working in multiple teams with multiple roles is another challenge important for new ways of working. Many studiesdiscuss either being part of a distributed team or how to manage remote employees (e.g., Kayworth & Leidner; 2000, Zigurs, 2003), but neglect the fact that these global managers fulfi ll multiple roles as a manager, as well as team member. New ways of working build on the core management competencies and require managers to address new challenges determined by global collaborative working environments (CWE). CWEs are a combination of infrastructures-both physical, IT-based networks, social and organization structures-supporting individual and collaborative work. Next to management competencies, critical aspects related to workplace, work practices, ICT and policies are important (e.g., MacDuffi e, 2007). This chapter studies challenges that global middle managers face when engaged in global CWE driven by globalization and mobility. © 2012 Taylor and Francis.