When Three Is Better than Two: How Culture Can Bridge Collaboration in Globally Distributed Teams

  • Rosana Silveira Reis Department of Economics, Markets and Society, ISG – International Business School, Paris, France
  • Camilla Quental Organization Studies & Ethics Department, Audencia Business School, Nantes, France
  • Eric van Heck Department of Technology & Operations Management, Rotterdam School of Management – Erasmus University Rotterdam, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Keywords: Collaboration, Globally distributed team, National culture, Work practices, Qualitative research


Globally distributed teams (GDTs) have become essential tools for organisations to expand, quickly adapt and restructure to remain competitive in the current economic climate. The theoretical literature has been discussing the advantages, but also the barriers, limitations and challenges in GDTs’ internal practices and processes. However, scholars have not yet sufficiently examined empirically the implications of cultural differences when teams operate in virtual contexts. To address this gap, this study aims to explore how different cultures interact and stimulate work collaboration in GDTs. Following the acquisition and merger of Volvo and Renault, we conducted a qualitative study of the collaborative work of GDTs located in Brazil, Sweden and France during the creation of Volvo Group’s VM truck. Our results highlight that the interaction of the three involved national cultures led to better collaboration between members of a GDT. Furthermore, as a managerial contribution, this study suggests that culture can be understood as an agent of transformation to facilitate or improve the collaboration process.


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Author Biographies

Rosana Silveira Reis, Department of Economics, Markets and Society, ISG – International Business School, Paris, France

Rosana Silveira Reis, PhD, has 35 years of experience in HRM, 15 of them as a manager in large companies. Currently, she is Associate Professor at ISG - Paris, France. She is responsible for the coordination of Fostering migrant entrepreneurship incubation in Europe (MIG.EN.CUBE) project research in France; and she was elected France Country Representative for the period of 2021 to 2024 at EURAM. In her research, she is working in the cross-border of Organization Behaviour, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship. Her focus is on Culture and Innovation, Leadership, Migration and Global Teams.

Camilla Quental, Organization Studies & Ethics Department, Audencia Business School, Nantes, France

Camilla Quental, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Management and Organization Studies at Audencia Business School, France. Her research interests include gender, inclusion, and diversity in organizations. She received a master’s degree from Sciences Po Paris in 2004 and a Ph.D. in Management from HEC Paris in 2011. She has published a number of articles and chapters on these subjects and is a member of the United Nations PRME Working Group on Gender Equality. 

Eric van Heck, Department of Technology & Operations Management, Rotterdam School of Management – Erasmus University Rotterdam, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Eric van Heck is Professor of Information Management and Markets at Erasmus University Rotterdam. He is the coauthor of Making Markets, among other books and articles, and the recipient of the ERIM Book Award, the ERIM Impact Award, the Outstanding Paper Literati Network Award, and the AIS Best Conference Paper in IS Education Award. In 2020, he received the AIS Sandra Slaughter Service Award, the AIS Technology Challenge Award, and the AIS Impact Award. His research is at the interface of business and technology and concentrates on the role and impact of business architectures and digital platforms.


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How to Cite
Silveira Reis R., Quental C., & van Heck E. (2022). When Three Is Better than Two: How Culture Can Bridge Collaboration in Globally Distributed Teams. M@n@gement, 25(3), 57–73. https://doi.org/10.37725/mgmt.v25.4575
Original Research Articles