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Comparison of Team Effectiveness Between Globally Distributed and Locally Distributed Engineering Project Teams

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

International Division Technical Session 1

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Page Count


Page Numbers

26.382.1 - 26.382.13



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Paper Authors


Ang Liu Univ of Southern California

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Dr. Ang Liu is a visiting assistant professor in the Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering department, at the University of Southern California.

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Yun Dai

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Yun Dai is a doctoral student from Gevirtz School of Education, University of California Santa Barbara, with an emphasis in learning, culture and technology. Her research interest revolve around teaching and learning, ethnographic research, engineering education and comparative education. She recently focuses on how to leverage information and communication technology to connect students from different social, cultural and academic background.

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James R. Morrison KAIST, ISysE

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James R. Morrison (S’97-M’00) received the B.S. in Mathematics and the B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Maryland at College Park, USA. He received the M.S. and Ph.D., both in Electrical and Computer Engineering, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA.

From 2000 to 2005, he was with the Fab Operations Engineering Department, IBM Corporation, Burlington, VT, USA. He is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at KAIST, South Korea. His research interests focus on semiconductor wafer manufacturing, persistent UAV service, education as a service and eco-design. He has published over 70 peer reviewed journal and conference papers in these areas.

He received the KAIST Award for Excellent Teaching and the KAIST Creative Teaching (Grand Prize) Award in 2011 and 2012, respectively. In 2013, he received the KAIST Excellence in International Cooperation Award. His paper was awarded the Grand Prize in the academic thesis category at the Korean DAPA International Military Science and Technology Fair in July 2013.

He has served as a Guest Editor for the IEEE Transactions on Automation Science & Engineering and Computers & Operations Research. He serves on the organization committees of several conferences. Since January 2009, he has been a Co-Chair of the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society Technical Committee on Semiconductor Manufacturing Automation.

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Stephen Y. Lu University of Southern California

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Comparison of team effectiveness between globally distributed and locally distributed engineering project teamsIn light of today’s sweeping trend of globalization, the globally distributed engineering projectteams are becoming increasingly ubiquitous. This study aims to investigate, characterize teameffectiveness of the globally distributed teams in comparison with the locally distributed ones.Our samples of the globally distributed teams came from a global engineering class jointlyoffered by five leading global universities, which included a top 10 engineering school in theUnited States, a public research university in Israel, a private research university in India, apublic research university in China, and a public research university in South Korea. The subjectof this global class focused on “principles and practices of global innovation”. In addition to thesynchronized lectures made possible by videoconferencing, the class was divided into 16 projectteams, and each team was composed of 2 American, 1 Israelite, 2 Indian, 1 Chinese, and 1Korean students. A variety of web conferencing solutions were provided to facilitatecollaborative activities of these 16 globally distributed teams. On the other hand, our samples ofthe locally distributed teams were collected from two courses offered at the same school. Both courses are required courses in the curriculum of a graduate productdevelopment engineering (PDE) program, with different emphases on “technological innovation”and “engineering design”, respectively. In 2014 fall, enrollment of the two courses was each 30and 40 students, accordingly. The “technological innovation” class was divided into 6 projectteams and each with 5 students, and the “conceptual design” class was divided into 8 projectteams and each with 5 students. It should be noted that though, the U.S. engineering school alsooperates a well-established distance education program, therefore, a few distance students alsosigned up the two PDE courses. That being said, strictly speaking, some of the locally distributedteams should be regarded as partially distributed teams than completely local teams.Although the 16 globally distributed teams and the 14 locally distributed ones were taskeddifferent engineering problems to solve, they were surveyed the same peer assessmentquestionnaire at the conclusion of each class. Specifically, every team member was asked to ratetheir team effectiveness with respect to the following 10 aspects: (1) goals and objectives, (2)utilization of resources, (3) trust and conflict, (4) sharing of leadership roles, (5) control andprocedures, (6) interpersonal communication, (7) problem-solving/decision-making, (8)experimentation/creativity, (9) frequent evaluation, (10) sense of cohesion. Besides, each teammember was further asked to assess his/her peer teammates’ contributions to the project works.A one way analysis of variance is performed to compare the two sets of samples. The resultsindicate that the two types of project teams did lean on different aspects of team effectiveness tosucceed or to fail. Moreover, based on the peer assessment outcomes, we intend to characterize atypical active contributor and an inactive one, each within the globally distributed teams andwithin the locally distributed teams, respectively. Together with our empirical observations, weprescribe a set of suggestions hopefully to improve team effectiveness of the globally distributedteams.

Liu, A., & Dai, Y., & Morrison, J. R., & Lu, S. Y. (2015, June), Comparison of Team Effectiveness Between Globally Distributed and Locally Distributed Engineering Project Teams Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23721

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