Between-team communication in the intercultural context

Lu Xiao, Dongyan Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Intercultural remote team collaboration has become a key component of multinational corporation's strategic planning. By studying two engineering teams located in Canada and China, we examine the factors that affect between-team communication practice in intercultural contexts. Data, including questionnaires, interviews, team emails, and team meetings, were collected through various channels. Besides the characteristics of tasks shared by the two teams, these data also helped us to understand within-team and between-team communication practices, the factors of their communication behavior, and factors. Specifically, we administered online anonymous questionnaires for teams’ personality characteristics and intercultural sensitivity. We conducted three semi-structured interviews with each team member (total of 30 interviews were conducted): one at the beginning of the project; the second at the middle of the project and the last close to the end of the project. During the five-month project period, we collected108 between-team emails and attend three between-team meetings. Content of the emails and meeting transcripts were analyzed to examine the interactions between the two teams using Bales’ [1950. A set of categories for the analysis of small group interaction. American Sociological Review, 50(2), 257–263] interaction processing analysis. In addition to this, we also conducted an email timeline analysis to examine the immediacy of this asynchronous communication tool and identify potential breakdowns. Our results demonstrate that personality traits and intercultural sensitivity affect between-team intercultural communications. Other factors that affect the teams’ communication behavior include the communication media, the national cultural differences, distance, one team members’ awareness of the other team's workflow and workload. Based on these findings, we propose the design implications for supporting between-team communication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)940-955
Number of pages16
JournalInformation Communication and Society
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • awareness
  • between-team communication
  • intercultural study
  • remote teamwork
  • team communication practice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Library and Information Sciences


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