Exploring the Role of Cultural Boundary Spanners at Complex Boundaries in Global Virtual AEC Networks
Taylor, John E.
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As the architecture, engineering and construction industry continues to globalize, project work is more often executed by geographically distributed, technologically mediated teams of knowledge specialists organized into global virtual project networks. These networks are characterized by a number of boundaries that must be spanned in order to develop effective project outcomes. Prior research has examined the efficacy of cultural boundary spanners and technical boundary spanners in these types of networks, but we lack an understanding of how spanners perform in complex boundary environments where boundaries co-occur. Our research aims to explore the efficacy of cultural boundary spanners who are positioned at technical and knowledge domain boundaries. The results of our preliminary research suggest that cultural boundary spanners may only be effective at facilitating efficient information transfer when they are positioned at a knowledge domain boundary in which they have specialization. We found that the interactional norms that develop within the network based on the efficacy of boundary spanners can also position them at inappropriate knowledge domain boundaries, which can lead to decreased efficiency of information transfer. Our research provides an initial contribution to our understanding of boundary complexity in global virtual projects networks with implications for improving network performance.