Professor Receives Bechtel and NSF Grants for Distributed Work Research

Posted: September 20, 2002 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Greg Guenthner

Associate professor of management Catherine Cramton recently received $250,000 from the Bechtel Foundation for her research proposal, “Subgroup Fault Lines in Distributed International Teams: The Impact on Cross-National Learning and Team Effectiveness.” Cramton developed the proposal with Pamela Hinds, a professor in the Department of Management Science and Engineering at Stanford University. The National Science Foundation also is providing the proposal $410,000 in funding.

“I am excited to have this opportunity to study important challenges and opportunities in the contemporary workplace up close and in depth,” Cramton says. “I hope that this research program will result in improved management and training techniques and recommendations for the design of collaborative technologies to support distributed work.” Among other things, the grants will allow Cramton and Hinds to interview and observe members of international distributed teams both in the United States and abroad.

According to Cramton, the three-year research program will explore challenges and opportunities presented by the growing use in the public and private sectors of teams whose members work from different countries. Such internationally distributed teams typically make heavy use of advanced telecommunication and information technologies to carry out their work. Previous research, including Cramton’s work, has noted the tendency for such teams to develop conflict between subgroups working from different locations. The funded research seeks to understand this process and how to prevent such conflict.

In particular, the research will focus on identifying the processes by which and conditions under which team members experience cross-national learning rather than develop we-they attitudes. Cramton and Hinds are interested in the role that different communication technologies can play in this process. Finally, they will investigate whether cross-national learning within an internationally distributed team affects the broader worldviews of members.

Write to at