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Evolution of the virtual project team

Charlotte Tanner
July 9, 2014

Through light speed advances in technology in the 21st Century, the phenomenon of the global virtual team reflects not only the increasing interconnectivity of people and communities through technology, it also reflects the economic reality of globalisation whereby skills and experience can be sourced from a global marketplace.

Despite the increasing use of global virtual teams within project management, 20th Century hierarchical structures still persist within those teams. If these teams are to survive in the global marketplace, new ways of thinking need to be developed about how teams are structured and how they relate to the wider communities of practice.

While these communities of practice increasingly include global virtual teams, the teams themselves have not yet reflected the highly connected, non-hierarchical structures of communities of practice in their own methods and approaches to managing projects.

Through the process of reflective practice, global virtual teams have within their power the ability to seek out new ways of thinking and collaborating not just within their own virtual teams, but also within the broader Open Source Software Community.

The project environment of global virtual teams can create barriers to communication, but the shared context of the team itself, can act as a catalyst for transforming knowledge from tacit to explicit by increasing the points of connection within the team. By the sharing of knowledge, teams are able to build trust within the team, which leads to improved performance of the team.

The emergence of new methodologies, such as Agile, within project management seeks to deal with the rapidly evolving development of new software, whereby the end ‘product’ is not always clearly defined when a project commences. Although it does provide a workable approach to project management, problems can still arise within the way the team interrelates. The next stage of the process should be a reflection on the way in which teams interact and how new knowledge is created.

The topic of discussion within this paper is the transformation of the structures and approaches of global virtual teams through the lens of reflective practice. Through the use of a real world case study, this experiential learning process will provide a pathway to improving the performance of global virtual teams.

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Charlotte Tanner
Charlotte Tanner is the Digital Project Manager at Best Practice Productions, managing the physical aspects of the production including personnel, technology, budget and scheduling. Her background spans TV production, tertiary training, web development and project management and she has a particular interest in the relationship between creative ideas and the project management required to make them a reality.
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