Meta-Teams: Getting Global Work Done in MNEs

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Management, 2019, 45 (2), pp. 510 - 539
Issue Date:
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© The Author(s) 2018. To allow for flexibility and global integration in multinationals, global teams are becoming more fluid, forming and dispersing quickly to address organizational needs. The coordination that takes place in these temporary agile teams is critical for global work. However, current conceptualizations of teams and methodological approaches do not provide a clear understanding of dynamic global teams and how they get global work done in multinational enterprises (MNEs). To address this, we mobilize the teaming perspective to explore global work in the complex matrix structure of Computer (a pseudonym), a large technology MNE. Our study includes interviews and observations from 40 global account teams. The findings suggest that an intermediate structure, which we call a meta-team, provides a referential space that supports teaming. Within the meta-team, operational practices and a common mind-set provide guidelines for member behavior and expectations. Additionally, teaming substructures form and change to adapt to activities. This study contributes to the literature by (1) demonstrating how dynamic global work gets done in MNEs through meta-teams and teaming; (2) showing how meta-teams address some of the challenges of global work, such as fluid collaboration and multiple-team participation; and (3) providing new insights for teaming in context and temporary work.
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