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Enabling Virtual Communities of Practice: A Case‑study of Swedish‑Indian collaboration in IT development
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Centre for Gender Research.
2014 (English)In: Electronic Journal of Information Systems Evaluation, ISSN 1566-6379, E-ISSN 1566-6379, ISSN 1566-6379, Vol. 17, no 1, 60-70 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper uses the ‘communities of practice’ and ‘situated learning’ (Wenger, 1998) approach to understand what kind of prerequisites need to be in place for an on-site team of ‘old-timers’ to be willing to integrate offshore ‘newcomers’, and what kind of problems can be encountered in this process.

 

The study is based on 103 interviews undertaken in a multinational company where offshoring of qualified IT work from Sweden to India is done in virtual teams. Most research on IT offshoring has been conducted on US–Indian and UK–Indian cooperations, this study complements this existing research by exploring IT offshoring in the context of the less hierarchical and more consensus-oriented Swedish organizational culture.

 A community of practice cannot be created, but needs to evolve, and this only happens when old-timers accept newcomers as members of the community. In offshoring relations this is often disturbed by the resistance of the onshore employees to offshoring as a phenomenon.

The life of the community of practice evolves through two processes: participation and reification. Reification in the form of documents is crucial in all outsourcing processes. This study is interested in the conditions necessary for participation, which are recognized as being more difficult to achieve in virtual teams. In particular, in such teams, access to and use of communication technology is crucial for enabling the participation of all members of the team. Cultural differences can appear in different modes of participation, and these have to be reconciled, while language problems can obstruct participation, especially among members who do not have English as their native language. The possibility of some, but not all, team members having access to the customer may cause status differences which can hamper the community building.

The evidence from some of the teams in the case study company, however, shows that, given a certain organizational culture, these problems can to a large degree be overcome.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Reading, UK: Academic Publishing International, 2014. Vol. 17, no 1, 60-70 p.
Keyword [en]
organizational culture, organizational learning, ICT offshoring, communities of practice, India, Sweden
National Category
Business Administration Sociology
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-229642OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-229642DiVA: diva2:737241
Projects
Gendered conditions and gender constructions in ICT offshoring
Funder
Swedish Research CouncilForte, Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare
Available from: 2014-08-12 Created: 2014-08-12 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved

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