The Generational Impact in Virtual Teams

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Virginia Tech


The world of today allows groups of people who are geographically-distributed to communicate through information and communication technologies (ICTs). In the workplace, these geographically-distributed teams are referred to as virtual teams. Quantifying and understanding issues in virtual teams has been a focus of research for the past two decades. This thesis aims to quantify generational differences between the Millennials and the Baby Boomers in the context of virtual teams in the engineering and construction sectors. This thesis consists of two studies. The first study broadly focuses on generational differences in regards to cultural, temporal, and technological issues faced in virtual teams. The results from the first study show that Millennials may be better suited to deal with cultural and language differences as well as time-distributed team members when compared to the Baby Boomers. However, the results for the technology hypothesis were mixed and motivated further research. Therefore, the second study focused on generational differences in views on specific ICTs. This study found that Millennials favored some ICTs more than their Baby Boomer counterparts. However, these generations also had indistinguishable views for many of the ICTs examined. The second study shows that the digital divide between generations is true for certain technologies but is unobservable in others. This thesis indicates that Millennials have relative strengths when handling the difficulties of virtual teaming when compared to the Baby Boomers.



Virtual Teams, Generations, Culture, Time Zones, Information and Communication Technologies