The impact of cross-cultural communication on organizational citizenship behavior in global virtual teams

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School of Business | Master's thesis
Degree programme
Management and International Business (MIB)
Due to the far-reaching impacts of globalization, rapid technological advancements, as well as the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations are increasingly employing Global Virtual Teams (GVTs) to unite diverse talents across geographical boundaries. The distinct nature of GVTs brings about new and unique challenges, particularly related to communication. Moreover, fostering Organizational Citizenship Behavior (OCB), which refers to voluntary, discretionary proactive actions that benefit the organization, is proven to be more difficult in a virtual work environment. This thesis aims to explore the impact of cross-cultural communication on OCB in GVTs. The main objective is to understand how cultural diversity and digital communication influence employees' behavior within their respective GVT. Specifically, the study focuses on their willingness to engage in proactive activities that contribute to organizational success. The research methodology employed semi-structured interviews with seven participating employees from a single GVT within a multinational organization based in the Nordics. These participants represented diverse nationalities, backgrounds, work arrangements and work experiences, forming a representative sample and glimpse into current trends in organizational behavior and the future of work. Thematic analysis was used to identify and explore key themes arising from the interview data. The research revealed that cross-cultural communication plays a significant role in shaping OCB behaviors within GVTs. First, participants acknowledged that language proficiency and cultural understanding influenced their ability to build trust, collaborate, and engage in prosocial OCB. Secondly, the study highlighted the subjective nature of productivity and its potential cultural implications, emphasizing the importance of aligning work arrangements with individual preferences. Lastly, findings revealed a dual effect of adopting a lingua franca as a common language. It can mitigate communication barriers but at the same time have negative consequences when individuals have differing levels of proficiency in the language. The study suggests that organizations should adopt a nuanced approach to enhance OCB in GVTs, acknowledging that both individual and cultural factors influence employee behavior. Promoting cultural competency, providing language training, and creating a supportive virtual work environment can foster better communication which can lead to increased OCB. This thesis contributes to the growing body of research on OCB and virtual team dynamics, offering practical implications for organizations thrive in the dynamic landscape of the global business environment.
Thesis advisor
Pälli, Pekka
global virtual teams, cross-cultural communication, organizational citizenship behavior, digital communication, virtual work, OCB, communication
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