Asee peer logo

Promoting Effective Communication In Global Engineering Projects

Download Paper |


2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

A Systems Thinking Approach to Solving Problems

Tagged Division

Systems Engineering Constituent Committee

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.1002.1 - 15.1002.10



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Joanna DeFranco Pennsylvania State University

visit author page

Joanna F. DeFranco is an Engineering faculty member at Penn State University. She earned her B.S. in Electrical Engineering and Math from Penn State, M.S. in Computer Engineering from Villanova, and earned her Ph.D. in Computer and Information science from New Jersey Institute of Technology. Previous to entering academia, Dr. DeFranco held a number of positions in industry and government, including software engineer for Motorola in Horsham, PA and an Electronics Engineer for the Naval Air Development Center in Warminster, PA. She has published a number of articles in journals and conference proceedings in the area of collaborative problem solving, group cognition, global engineering, and computer forensics.

visit author page


Fadi Deek New Jersey Institute of Technology

visit author page

Fadi P. Deek received his B.S. Computer Science, 1985; M.S. Computer Science, 1986; and Ph.D. Computer and Information Science, 1997 all from New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). He is Dean of the College of Science and Liberal Arts, Professor of Information Systems, Information Technology, and Mathematical Sciences at NJIT where he began his academic career as Teaching
Assistant in 1985. He is also a member of the Graduate Faculty - Rutgers University Business School. Dr. Deek maintains an active funded-research program. His research interests include Learning/Collaborative Systems, Software Engineering, Open Source Development, Computer Science Education.

visit author page

author page

Raghvinder Sangwan Pennsylvania State University, Great Valley

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Promoting Effective Communication in Global Engineering Projects


Effective communication plays a key role in the success of engineering teams. However, achieving a high level of communication when developing projects globally can be challenging. An organization’s learning capacity, its familiarity with the cultural diversity of its team members, and its information technology support for project planning, data management, group communication and collaboration among geographically distributed teams, are some key factors that can help overcome this challenge.


Through a study conducted in 2008 by NASA, communication was identified as one of the five top level themes their highly valued Systems Engineers possess21. The purpose of the NASA study is to accelerate the development of critical Systems Engineering behaviors and to ensure these behaviors were developed for the next generation of highly regarded System Engineers. In reality, effective communication is extremely important in any type of engineering. For example, in requirements engineering effective communication is imperative during processes that support knowledge acquisition and understanding of stakeholder needs13.

The increased need to improve communication efforts is evident due to many engineering disciplines increasing their development efforts across different sites in different geographic locations and across different time zones. Major factors that have contributed to this globalization trend include cheaper labor, the need for specialized skills and expertise, and corporate mergers. For example, the outsourcing of various functions or activities of the software business has become increasingly prevalent leading to “capability sourcing”1 particularly when companies’ expertise falls short in some technical areas. In addition, some companies already have offices that span the world creating a globally distributed technical asset, although they may still outsource software development for strategic reasons.

Globalization can, however, bring on big challenges. It is well known, for instance, that effective communication plays a key role in the performance of product development teams 2,3,4,5. Researchers have shown that well-coordinated teams demonstrate a higher level of overall performance, especially when their tasks are interrelated and compactly situated6,7. Achieving the desired levels of coordination among geographically distributed teams can be extremely challenging, however, due to the negative impact that increased distance has on communication8. Research shows that a mere 100 meters of separation results in a significant drop in communication between team personnel2. The communication degradation may increase with distance; however, beyond 100 meters it becomes almost irrelevant whether collaborators are

DeFranco, J., & Deek, F., & Sangwan, R. (2010, June), Promoting Effective Communication In Global Engineering Projects Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--15645

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2010 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015