Vaasan yliopiston opinnäytteet

Kauppatieteellinen tiedekunta, 2013

Sapegina, Elena

Social Capital and Knowledge Sharing in Global Virtual Teams

Ohjaaja/Valvoja (DI):
Adam Smale
Kauppatieteiden maisteri
Johtaminen ja organisaatiot
Master's Degree Programme in International Business
Tutkielman kieli:
Virtual collaborations gradually emerged with the development of information and communication technologies coupled with the invention of the internet. It became easier and more cost effective to bring the best talents together to work on common tasks and combine their expertise and knowledge regardless of their physical locations. The utilization of broader, richer and more diverse knowledge bases is the underlying argument for using global virtual teams as a new work arrangement. However, virtual settings present challenges for building social capital among team members which can consequently undermine interpersonal knowledge sharing.

This study addresses these interrelationships through two main research questions. The first question looks at the characteristics of global virtual teams that affect the development of social capital among virtual team members. The second research question aims to investigate the main factors of social capital that influence interpersonal knowledge sharing in global virtual teams.

The empirical study was conducted through qualitative research methods in the form of an in-depth case study of semi-structured personal and phone interviews. Ten interviews with representatives from five different countries were carried out to collect data for the research.

The role of geographical dispersions of team members, high reliance on information and communication technology, and cultural and language diversities in the development of social capital and knowledge sharing within global virtual teams was observed. Based on the collected data, the factors influencing the development of three dimensions of social capital and their impact on knowledge sharing in global virtual teams were identified. The results of the research show that technology alone does not ensure knowledge sharing. Building social capital helps mediate the communication challenges and breakdowns within global virtual teams and reduce associated losses. Teams that develop social capital are more responsive and attentive to other members’ communication, information, and knowledge needs.
Virtual Teams, Social Capital, Knowledge Sharing, Interpersonal Relationships
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