Metateams in major information technology projects : a grounded theory on conflict, trust, communication, and cost

Fernandez, Walter Daniel (2003) Metateams in major information technology projects : a grounded theory on conflict, trust, communication, and cost. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Metateams are both largely unexplored in the IS literature and economically important to major corporations and their IT vendors. Metateams are temporary groups composed of two or more geographically and inter-organisationally dispersed teams, commercially linked by project-specific agreements and enabled by electronic means of communication. Each one of these teams fulfils a particular and measurable objective, enshrined in the team's goal hierarchy and contractual obligations. The combination of efforts from every team in a metateam, contributes to achieving a common distant goal of project implementation. Thus, metateams are temporary teams (or groups) of distributed teams working across distance, firms, and cultures. In metateams, each participant team works with other teams on organisationally heterogeneous collaborative projects.

Metateams are new and potentially powerful work structures resulting from the convergence of outsourcing, virtual organisations, and demands for global competitiveness. They promise to build IT solutions of high complexity, by integrating expertise from different fields and organisations. With the assistance of communication technologies, metateams can conquer barriers of time and space, enabling collaborative endeavours across a nation or across the globe. In a global business environment that demands innovation, flexibility, and responsiveness, metateams represent a revolution in the way organisations and practitioners do IT projects. However, as this study found, managing metateams presents unique difficulties due to conflicting demands arising from multiple realities.

This dissertation presents an empirical research using a grounded theory approach that studies a major IT project performed by a metateam. The conceptual account emerges from an exploratory study of a major IT development and implementation project in the telecommunication industry. The project involved three key organisations and teams based in Australia, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe. The core pattern emerging from this study is one of constant conflict discovery and resolution, a process that progressively, and at a cost, allows the project to evolve from its initial incongruence into either a working solution or into project abandonment. This theory-building study presents a theoretical model, grounded on rich empirical data, interrelating key concepts of cost, conflict, communication, and trust, which serves to explain the pattern of actions and to propose a number of practical conclusions and recommendations.

This research was guided by two key research objectives: (a) to add theoretical content to the understanding of key processes enacted by metateams in performing IT project work; and (b), to develop a framework that assists researchers and practitioners in predicting, explaining, and evaluating events and process associated with metateams.

To the author's best knowledge, this study describes for the first time in the IS literature, the metateam organisation and the significant contextual issues they confront. In doing so, the study develops an understanding, grounded on rich empirical data from the substantive field of metateams. This new understanding contributes to both IS research and practice and provides guidance for future research.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 16101
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Underwood, Barney, Lehmann, Hans, & Stewart, Glenn
Keywords: Metateams, Project Management, IS/IT Development Projects, Collaborative Projects, Boundary Spanning Projects, Virtual Collaboration, Emerging Organisations, Virtual Teams, Multi-team Systems, Grounded Theory Studies.
Department: Faculty of Information Technology
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright Walter Daniel Fernandez
Deposited On: 03 Dec 2008 03:56
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 19:43

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