Final Report of the NewGlobal study published: ICT-based Collaborative Working Environments and Globalisation.
The NewGlobal study has explored how collaborative working environments (CWE) based on ICTs can be deployed for enabling successful globalisation strategies of European companies and how they can foster exploitation of business opportunities for global value creation. The study comprised a pan-European interview survey among 1015 globalized small- and medium-sized (SME) companies from Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Portugal, Sweden, The Netherlands and the UK. The survey was complemented by extensive desk research and an in-depth multi-level case study of 13 leading examples of successful globalized EU companies.
Today's severe economic crisis is likely to affect considerably the capability and willingness of European companies, especially SMEs, to engage in globalisation. In fact, it appears that the more an economy, sector or company is integrated in the global market economy, the harder it has been hit by the recession. The likely outcome will be a backlash in the globalisation process, with companies shying away from engagement in countries outside of Europe, in an attempt to control risk and to deal with market volatility. A retreat of European companies from global collaboration, however, would play havoc with the EU economy's capability to maintain competitiveness and to regain sustainable levels of growth in the future.
It follows that additional efforts will be needed to enable Europe’s companies to fully participate in global business opportunities. Our research argues that, in order to do so, companies need to make effective use of CWE, supported by a wide range of technologies and techniques for virtual collaboration. Examples for CWEs, widely used for global collaboration, include work in virtual teams and Communities of Practice (CoP). The fast progress in ICTs which can support “frictionless” communication and collaboration across time and space can give the impression that virtual, global collaboration is now at everybody’s fingertips. Our research shows, however, that effective implementation of CWEs represents a considerable challenge. Global team work can quickly result in frustration if it is ill-prepared or insufficiently supported by organisational structures and processes.
The study aimed to contribute to a better understanding of the potentials and practical challenges arising from the spread of online collaboration within a business environment which increasingly relies on collaboration at global rather than national or European scale.