Straight from the Horse’s Mouth: Justifications and Prevention Strategies Provided by Free Riders on Global Virtual Teams

pp.51-67. Vas Taras, Yonghong Liu, William Tullar, Jason Pierce


The study investigates the reasons for and ways to deal with free riding on Global Virtual Teams (GVTs) based on interviews with 77 documented “free-riders” themselves. Our unique sample, in contrast with more commonly-studied accounts from active team members or project managers, provides direct insights into the thinking of free-riders. Taken together, our interview data suggest that free riders (1) emerge in the early stages of team development, (2) due to several distinct reasons, of which lack of time, team coordination, and communication methods/channels are most common, (3) when confronted with unimpeachable evidence of their guilt, tend to attribute their failure to contribute to external forces, (4) often fall victim to subtle cultural differences and forces, and (5) could have been saved by prevention strategies that would target the different reasons for free-riding. From these conclusions, we synthesize and discuss implications for management education and training across national borders.

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Print ISSN:2188-8728   Online ISSN: 2188-2274