Finally, a collaborative project management environment will be ensured if team members interact in a professional and cooperative manner with each other and with the stakeholders. This task is accomplished by exhibiting a healthy respect for personal, ethnic , and cultural differences (PMI, 2000b, 2002). This attitude will allow the team members to deal with each other from a sound ethical position.
An organization's culture is highly influenced by the shared explicit and implicit agreements among its members as to what is important in behavior, attitudes, values, beliefs, standards, social activities, and management practices. Thus, a project team culture is a pattern of social interaction that arises out of shared interests, mutual obligations, cooperation, friendship, and work challenges (Cleland, 1999). Therefore, it is logical to expect that each virtual project also has its own distinct culture. Elite project teams exhibit a culture that is reinforced by behavior, which in turn ensures team cohesiveness, integrity, trust, and loyalty.
In the traditional project environment, it is relatively easy to identify and understand the project culture and its influence on one's behavior. Further, the impact of cultural factors on communications is more evident in the face-to-face communications of collocated project teams. On the other hand, in the virtual environment, the presence of cultural differences may not even be apparent. Thus, the value of cultural diversity and the different perspectives and insights it can bring to the project might be lost if virtual-specific communication mechanisms are not in place. Underlying assumptions, views, attitudes, and feelings of team members may be taken for granted. Finally, considering the ingredients of a virtual team, it is easier, for those so inclined, to withhold information from others, be it team members, the project manager, or stakeholders. This can only result in greater communication barriers and a lack of mutual respect, and it should be avoided at all cost. Therefore, the obligation of the project manager is to recognize the cultural differences as a prelude to using the diversity as a backbone for the professionalism of the team.