EVOC: Effects of Expected vs. Observed Challenges Congruence on GVT Dynamics and Performance


The Problem: 

As in any project, members of GVTs have various expectations about how things will develop. Those expectations may or may not correspond to what typically happens or what will actually happen in their particular GVTs. The gap between between the expectations and experiences (general or particular) is particularly large in GVT settings as, despite the march of globalization, most people still have very limited experience with international virtual collaboration.

That brings us to two important practical questions:

Does the ability to predict/anticipate/expect the challenges and practices their team is likely to encounter (or will actually encounter in this particular project) affect performance?

Do those who know what will happen perform better? 

It may seem like a very easy question. Of course, those who know what is going to happen will be better prepared and, thus, will perform better.

However, one could argue that overestimating future challenges may be more beneficial as it will lead to over-preparation and thus higher performance.

Alternatively, over-estimation of challenges may reduce self-efficacy. As per goal setting theory, motivation may vanish if the challenges loom insurmountable. So under-estimation of future problem may provide the needed courage to start the project, and the escalation of commitment will not allow the GVT members to drop out. It has been said, if I only knew how hard it would be, I would have never started.

Thus, the question has an important implication for cross-cultural and GVT training:

Should the training focus on

(A) giving the future GVT members a realistic preview of future challenges and team dynamics,

(B) an overly dramatized picture to scare the future GVT members into over-preparation, or

(C) an overly rosy picture to instill the future GVT members with a sense of confidence in their ability to deal with the challenges. 

The present study will test which of these attitudes is optimal for performance, when one approach may be better than another, and what type of GVT training is most effective.

Lead Author: Vas Taras