Dispersed Team Dynamics

Write 2 pages with APA style on Dispersed Team Dynamics. Dispersed Team Dynamics: Conflicts in Virtual Teams Introduction Virtual teams have become integral part of internationalbusiness in the modern trend because of the multiple opportunities they provide for growth and sustainability. The success of a virtual team depends upon the effectiveness of the group dynamics that handles the technology-driven talents of individuals across diverse cultures and geographical locations. Since organizational structure and human interactions are involved in the process of virtual team management, the chances of conflicts are inevitable. This paper will make and overview of the possible causes of conflicts and the methods managers adopt to forecast and avert them.

Types and Causes of Conflicts

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Conflicts generally occur when there is difference in opinions and interest between individuals. According to a study by Lambregts (2011), there are more chances of conflicts in collective activities in which regular communications and interpersonal relationships are less feasible as in virtual teams (pp.10-11). The conflicts may be of different nature. In a virtual team frame, usually there are many independent groups working on a linear relationship with the management at the headquarters. Therefore there can be conflicts among groups, individuals in the same group or individuals across different groups. Different scholars have varying opinions about the category of conflicts in a virtual team. According to Kankanhalli, Tan and Wei (n.d.), conflicts within a team can either be relationship conflicts or task conflicts. Personal conflicts occur as a result of increasing tensions and frictions between employees due to mutual disagreement on a particular issue or due to egos and emotional clashes during the routines. Task conflicts generally arise around the methods and processes associated with the given assignments and the responsibilities to accomplish them. According to Professor Lindred Greer (as cite in Petersen (2014), the physical distances and the cultural differences among the team members can affect the quality of communication, and the responses to disagreements can reflect in the negative productivity of the team. The basic reason for this aspect is the unavailability of individuals for personal interactions at the required times of response to proposals and complaints in the process.

Forecasting and Averting

Conflicts are capable of self-replication when they are not resolved promptly. Hence it is important for the leaders to create a mechanism to forecast the possibility of issues within the team. A typical analysis of the nature of conflicts can work as a measure to predict the possibility of further ones. According to Lee and Panteli (2007-08), inter-organizational collaborations, increasing task conflicts due to strong inter-personal relationships and the escalating process conflicts due to expansion of business are indicators of imminent rise in conflicts (p.19). In the process of averting the conflicts, team members should focus on developing values of understanding and collaboration across cultural and linguistic barriers.

Managers are advised to study the types and causes of the conflicts before they can come to a conclusion about the methods to avert them. The resolution of a crisis can thus be found by the leaders by the methods of attributing the causes as personal and situational depending upon the rules of communication working in the system of the team (Kankanhalli et al). Apart from this, the leaders should spread the awareness among the employees that conflicts are normal in the functioning of a team. They must also possess the view that legitimate conflicts are beneficial for making quality decisions Kankanhalli et al). Team leaders can also focus on giving appropriate training to the team members for ensuring quality response to the teamwork requirements with balanced temperaments. According to a study, the effect of interpersonal familiarity is the primary motivator for the successful team communication and the leaders can improve the familiarity among the team members by testing effective devices like animated storytelling with virtual human body models for training purposes (Bickmore, Marsella & Sidner, 2014, p.407).


Conflicts are frequent visitors in any virtual group. They arise from different aspects like relationships, duties and information etc shared among the member. An effective mechanism of communication can work both as a forecasting tool and an averting agent for the possibilities of most conflicts. While the members are responsible to develop interpersonal qualities, leaders should promote the culture of trust and mutuality among the diverse groups by applying technically sound methods to impart the appropriate training.


Bickmore, T., Marsella, S & Sidner, C. (2014). Intelligent Virtual Agents: 14th International Conference, IVA 2014, Boston, MA, USA, August 27-29, 2014, Proceedings. Springer.

Kankanhalli, A., Tan, B. C. Y & Wei, K. (n.d.). Conflict and Performance in Global Virtual Teams. Journal of Management Information Systems. Retrieved from http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=

Lambregts, M. (2011). Leadership and conflicts in global virtual teams. Research Paper. Tilburg University. Retrieved from http://arno.uvt.nl/show.cgi?fid=116104

Lee, J. Y & Panteli, N. (2007-08). A Framework for understanding Conflicts in Global Virtual Alliances. Working paper. University of Bath. School of Management. Retrieved from http://www.bath.ac.uk/management/research/pdf/2007-08.pdf

Petersen, D. (November 7, 2014). Lindred Greer: Why Virtual Teams Have More Conflict. Stanford Business. Retrieved from http://www.gsb.stanford.edu/insights/lindred-greer-why-virtual-teams-have-more-conflict.

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