Learning Entrepreneurship through Virtual Multicultural Teamwork

Anat Goldstein, Ruti Gafni
Issues in Informing Science and Information Technology  •  Volume 16  •  2019  •  pp. 277-305
Aim/Purpose: This paper explores the benefits and challenges of experiencing virtual multi-cultural teamwork in order to learn entrepreneurship.

Background: Entrepreneurial eco-system usually requires working in international, virtual multi-cultural diverse teams. Higher education institutes are trying to educate future generation of entrepreneurs, coping with challenges derived from the virtual work and cultural diversity. Prior research shows that traditional learning is not effective for entrepreneurial education.

Methodology: An explorative study was conducted based on the BIPA project, a Bavarian (German)-Israeli Partnership Accelerator, which was held four times between 2015 and 2017. The project aims to experience entrepreneurial virtual multicul-tural teamwork via co-creation of tailored-solutions for challenges of German or Israeli corporates. Retrospective interviews with participants were held after finishing their mission, and analyzed.

Contribution: This research contributes to the body of knowledge about multicultural diverse participants in virtual entrepreneurial environments, in order to work together. This situation raises new challenges, due to the combination of multicultural teamwork and the use of virtual communication.

Findings: The multicultural teamwork was a trigger to participate, specifically in the con-text of entrepreneurship studies with those two cultures, German and Israeli, which were found by participants as complementary, stimulating and fruitful, although challenging. Through experience, participants improved their entrepreneurial skills and mindset. The major teamwork challenges that were found included conflicts concerning free-riding, as well as communication challenges, due to virtual, language and cultural communication competencies.

Recommendations for Practitioners: At a practical level, results can be useful for global companies, showing the benefits of virtual teamwork of employees in different locations, both in terms of reducing expenses and improving innovation. Moreover, managers can motivate employees by highlighting personal benefits, such as cultural awareness and improving their entrepreneurial skills and mindset. In addition, faculty may use this kind of experience to enhance entrepreneurial learning skills and mindset.

Recommendations for Researchers : At the theoretical level, this research advances the body of knowledge of entrepreneurial multicultural teamwork in a virtual environment. In this research, the teams worked for a short time together (14 weeks) and had a week of face-to-face interaction with their team members. It is recommended to examine long-term teamwork, and how it affects teamwork challenges, as well as entrepreneurial learning. This research found the combination of German-Israeli cultures as stimulating entrepreneurial teamwork. It is recommended to examine other cultural combinations in teams, in order to be able to generalize findings.

Impact on Society: Understanding the needs, benefits, and challenges of entrepreneurial multicul-tural teams working in a virtual environment can be useful to current global entrepreneurial eco-system, which is commonly using this kind of teamwork.

Future Research: ‚ÄéThis study included teams from two cultures: German and Israeli. Research must be expanded to different cultures and to groups compounded from more than two cultures. Moreover, the combination of virtual communication and face-to-face meetings in different milestones during the timeline of the teamwork must be further examined, especially in longer projects.
entrepreneurship, entrepreneurial learning, multicultural, virtual, global team-work
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