Leadership Job Requirements in Multicultural Virtual Teams
Cover of GJSD Vol. 2, Issue 2.


multicultural virtual teams
job requirements

How to Cite

Schweimler, Z. A. (2022). Leadership Job Requirements in Multicultural Virtual Teams: Which Behaviour and Skills Do Leaders Need to Manage Multicultural Virtual Teams Successfully? A Review. GILE Journal of Skills Development, 2(2), 12–26. https://doi.org/10.52398/gjsd.2022.v2.i2.pp12-26


Multicultural virtual teams have become increasingly relevant. Organisations and leaders face different challenges in managing these teams. This review analyses and identifies the challenges in multicultural virtual teams and the job requirements for leaders to face these challenges. It answers the question of which behaviour and skills leaders need to manage multicultural virtual teams successfully. A literature review was conducted in which thirty-five publications and their key findings have been considered, analysed, and systemised to derive a concrete requirement profile for leaders of multicultural virtual teams. The results present the challenges that can occur in multicultural virtual teams and the behaviours leaders can demonstrate when facing these challenges. The challenges arise from multicultural differences as well as from the virtual environment. The most important behaviours to face most of the challenges include raising awareness of language barriers and cultural differences, enquiring about team members' needs and expectations, clarifying expectations about the collaboration, establishing binding norms, ensuring compliance, adapting flexibly to individuals and situations, using ‘rich-media’, and synchronising work schedules. The findings also identify leaders' traits, attitudes and skills to execute the recommended behaviour. Leaders of multicultural virtual teams require sensitivity, flexibility, assertiveness, personal initiative, mastering different leadership styles, negotiation competence, and active listening. The outcome of this paper is a practicable overview of possible challenges and required behaviours as well as traits, attitudes, and skills of leaders when managing multicultural virtual teams. Leaders can benefit from this helpful guide for appropriate behaviour in specific challenges. Recruiters can use the findings as a helpful tool for selecting appropriate leaders for multicultural virtual teams.



Anawati, D. & Craig, A. (2006). Behavioral adaptation within cross-cultural virtual teams. IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, 49(1), 44–56. https://doi.org/10.1109/TPC.2006.870459

Au, Y. & Marks, A. (2012). Virtual teams are literally and metaphorically invisible. Employee Relations, 34(3), 271–287. https://doi.org/10.1108/01425451211217707

Balogun, J. & Johnson, G. (2004). Organizational restructuring and middle manager sensemaking. Academy of Management Journal, 47(4), 523–549. https://doi.org/10.5465/20159600

Baltes, B. B., Dickson, M. W., Sherman, M. P., Bauer, C. C., & LaGanke, J. S. (2002). Computer-mediated communication and group decision making: A meta-analysis. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 87(1), 156–179. https://doi.org/10.1006/obhd.2001.2961

Berg, R. W. (2012). The anonymity factor in making multicultural teams work. Business Communication Quarterly, 75(4), 404–424. https://doi.org/10.1177/1080569912453480

Chiu, Y. T. & Staples, D. S. (2013). Reducing faultlines in geographically dispersed teams. Small Group Research, 44(5), 498–531. https://doi.org/10.1177/1046496413489735

CIPD. (2020, May). Developing Effective Virtual Teams. Lessons from Research. Retrieved January 3, 2022, from https://www.cipd.co.uk/Images/developing-virtual-teams-1_tcm18-76431.pdf

CIPD. (2021, April). Managing Multicultural Teams. Exploring the Opportunities and Challenges. Retrieved January 3, 2022, from https://www.cipd.co.uk/Images/managing-multicultural-teams_tcm18-94625.pdf

Cordery, J., Soo, C., Kirkman, B., Rosen, B., & Mathieu, J. (2009). Leading parallel global virtual teams: Lessons from Alcoa. Organizational Dynamics, 38(3), 204–216. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.orgdyn.2009.04.002

Gareis, E. (2006). Virtual teams: A comparison of online communication channels. Journal of Language for International Business, 17(2), 6-21.

Gibson, C. B. & Gibbs, J. L. (2006). Unpacking the concept of virtuality: The effects of geographic dispersion, electronic dependence, dynamic structure, and national diversity on team innovation. Administrative Science Quarterly, 51(3), 451–495. https://doi.org/10.2189/asqu.51.3.451

Han, S. J. & Beyerlein, M. (2016). Framing the effects of multinational cultural diversity on virtual team processes. Small Group Research, 47(4), 351–383. https://doi.org/10.1177/1046496416653480

Harzing, A. & Feely, A. J. (2008). The language barrier and its implications for HQ?subsidiary relationships. Cross Cultural Management: An International Journal, 15(1), 49–61. https://doi.org/10.1108/13527600810848827

Hertel, G., Geister, S., & Konradt, U. (2005). Managing virtual teams: A review of current empirical research. Human Resource Management Review, 15(1), 69–95. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.hrmr.2005.01.002

Holtbrügge, D. & Schillo, K. (2011). Virtual delegation across borders: A knowledge-based perspective. European Management Journal, 29(1), 1–10. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.emj.2010.08.002

Huang, R., Kahai, S., & Jestice, R. (2010). The contingent effects of leadership on team collaboration in virtual teams. Computers in Human Behavior, 26(5), 1098–1110. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2010.03.014

Johansson, C., Dittrich, Y., & Juustila, A. (1999). Software engineering across boundaries: Student project in distributed collaboration. IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, 42(4),

–296. https://doi.org/10.1109/47.807967

Kahai, S. S., Huang, R., & Jestice, R. J. (2012). Interaction effect of leadership and communication media on feedback positivity in virtual teams. Group & Organization Management, 37(6), 716–751. https://doi.org/10.1177/1059601112462061

Kanawattanachai, P. & Yoo, Y. (2007). The impact of knowledge coordination on virtual team performance over time. MIS Quarterly, 31(4), 783–808. https://doi.org/10.2307/25148820

Kankanhalli, A., Tan, B. C., & Wei, K. K. (2006). Conflict and performance in global virtual teams. Journal of Management Information Systems, 23(3), 237–274.


Kayworth, T. & Leidner, D. (2000). The global virtual manager: A prescription for success. European Management Journal, 18(2), 183–194. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0263-2373(99)00090-0

Kennedy, D. M., Vozdolska, R. R., & McComb, S. A. (2010). Team decision making in computer-supported cooperative work: How initial computer-mediated or face-to-face meetings set the stage for later outcomes. Decision Sciences, 41(4), 933–954. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-5915.2010.00293.x

Kirkman, B. L., Rosen, B., Gibson, C. B., Tesluk, P. E., & McPherson, S. O. (2002). Five challenges to virtual team success: Lessons from Sabre, Inc. Academy of Management Perspectives, 16(3), 67–79. https://doi.org/10.5465/ame.2002.8540322

Kronawitter, E. (2013). Vorbildfunktion der Führungskraft. In Führen ohne Druck (pp. 81–84). Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-658-01022-5_17

Lin, C., Standing, C., & Liu, Y. C. (2008). A model to develop effective virtual teams. Decision Support Systems, 45(4), 1031–1045. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dss.2008.04.002

Maznevski, M. L. & Chudoba, K. M. (2000). Bridging space over time: Global virtual team dynamics and effectiveness. Organization Science, 11(5), 473–492. https://doi.org/10.1287/orsc.11.5.473.15200

McDonough, E. F., Kahnb, K. B., & Barczaka, G. (2001). An investigation of the use of global, virtual, and colocated new product development teams. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 18(2), 110–120. https://doi.org/10.1111/1540-5885.1820110

Meyer, E. (2014). The Culture Map. New York, USA: Public Affairs.

Molinsky, A. (2013, April). Common Language Doesn’t Equal Common Culture. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved September 21, 2022, from


Monalisa, M., Daim, T., Mirani, F., Dash, P., Khamis, R., & Bhusari, V. (2008). Managing global design teams. Research-Technology Management, 51(4), 48–59. https://doi.org/10.1080/08956308.2008.11657514

Newell, S., David, G., & Chand, D. (2007). An analysis of trust among globally distributed work teams in an organizational setting. Knowledge and Process Management, 14(3), 158–168. https://doi.org/10.1002/kpm.284

Pauleen, D. J. (2003). Lessons learned crossing boundaries in an ICT-supported distributed team. Journal of Global Information Management, 11(4), 1–19. https://doi.org/10.4018/jgim.2003100101

Polzer, J. T., Crisp, C. B., Jarvenpaa, S. L., & Kim, J. W. (2006). Extending the faultline model to geographically dispersed teams: How colocated subgroups can impair group functioning. Academy of Management Journal, 49(4), 679–692. https://doi.org/10.5465/amj.2006.22083024

Powell, A., Piccoli, G., & Ives, B. (2004). Virtual teams: A review of current literature and directions for future research. ACM SIGMIS Database: The DATABASE for Advances in Information Systems, 35(1), 6–36. https://doi.org/10.1145/968464.968467

Shachaf, P. (2008). Cultural diversity and information and communication technology Impacts on global virtual teams: An exploratory study. Information & Management, 45(2), 131–142. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.im.2007.12.003

Sivunen, A. (2006). Strengthening identification with the team in virtual teams: The leaders’ perspective. Group Decision and Negotiation, 15(4), 345–366.


Stahl, G. K., Mäkelä, K., Zander, L., & Maznevski, M. L. (2010). A look at the bright side of multicultural team diversity. Scandinavian Journal of Management, 26(4), 439–447. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scaman.2010.09.009

Tuckman, B. W. (1965). Developmental sequence in small groups. Psychological Bulletin, 63(6), 384–399. https://doi.org/10.1037/h0022100

Walther, J. B. & Bunz, U. (2005). The rules of virtual groups: Trust, liking, and performance in computer-mediated communication. Journal of Communication, 55(4), 828–846. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-2466.2005.tb03025.x

Warburton, K. (2021, February). Global Virtual Team Challenges. Global Business Culture. Retrieved January 24, 2022, from https://www.globalbusinessculture.com/cultural-awareness/global-virtual-team-challenges/

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Copyright (c) 2022 Zara Alexa Schweimler


Metrics Loading ...