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Many organizations are forming “virtual teams” of geographically distributed knowledge workers to collaborate on a variety of workplace tasks. But how effective are these virtual teams compared to traditional face-to-face groups? Do they create similar teamwork and is information exchanged as effectively? An exploratory study of a World Wide Web-based asynchronous computer conference system known as Meeting Web™ is presented and discussed. It was found that teams using this computer-mediated communication system (CMCS) could not outperform traditional (face-to-face) teams under otherwise comparable circumstances. Further, relational links among team members were found to be a significant contributor to the effectiveness of information exchange. Though virtual and face-to-face teams exhibit similar levels of communication effectiveness, face-to-face team members report higher levels of satisfaction. Therefore, the paper presents steps that can be taken to improve the interaction experience of virtual teams. Finally, guidelines for creating and managing virtual teams are suggested, based on the findings of this research and other authoritative sources.
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Decision Sciences
Volume
28
Number
4
Fall I997
Printed in the
U.S.A.
Virtual Teams versus Face-to-Face Teams:
An Exploratory Study of
a
Web-based
Conference System*
Merrill
E.
Warkentin
College
of
Business Administration, 214 Hayden Hall, Northeastern Universiq,
Boston, MA 02115, email: mwarkentin@cba.neu.edu
Lutfus Sayeed
BACS Department,
College
of
Business, San Francisco State University, San Francisco,
CA
94132.
email:
lsayeed@sfsu.edu
Ross
Hightower
Department of Management,
College
of
Business, Kansas State University. Calvin
Hall,
Manhattan,
KS
66506, email: rth@business.cba. ksu.edu
ABSTRACT
Many organizations are forming “virtual teams” of geographically distributed knowl-
edge workers to collaborate on a variety of workplace tasks. But how effective are these
virtual teams compared to traditional face-to-face groups?
Do
they create similar team-
work and is information exchanged as effectively? An exploratory study of a World
Wide Web-based asynchronous computer conference system known as MeetingWebTM
is presented and discussed. It was found that teams using
this
computer-mediated com-
munication system
(CMCS)
could not outperform traditional (face-to-face) teams under
otherwise comparable circumstances. Further, relational links among team members
were found to be a significant contributor to the effectiveness of information exchange.
Though virtual and face-to-face teams exhibit similar levels of communication effec-
tiveness, face-to-face team members report higher levels of satisfaction. Therefore, the
paper presents steps that can be taken to improve the interaction experience of virtual
teams. Finally, guidelines for creating and managing virtual teams are suggested, based
on the findings of this research and other authoritative sources.
Subject Areas: Collaboration, Computer Conference, Computer-mediated Com-
munication Systems
(CMCS),
Internet, Virtual Teams, and
World
Wide Web.
*The authors wish to thank
the
Special
Focus
Editor and the reviewers
for
their thoughtful critique of the
earlier versions
of
this paper.
We
also wish to acknowledge the contributions of the Northeastern University
College of Business Administration and its staff, which provided the web
server
and the MeetingWebTM
soft-
ware used in these experiments.
975
976
Virtual Teams versus Face-to-Face Teams
INTRODUCTION
Do teams that collaborate online suffer from constraints in their ability to commu-
nicate? Can companies implement virtual teams with the same confidence they
have when they assign workers to collaborate on group tasks through traditional
face-to-face meetings? Questions like these are increasingly important for managers
as virtual teams become more common. The findings of research in recent years
are not encouraging. Much of this research suggests that groups using computer-
mediated communication systems (CMCS) communicate less effectively in many
circumstances than groups meeting face-to-face. For example, Hightower and
Sayeed (1995, 1996) found that virtual teams exchange information less effec-
tively than face-to-face groups.
However, many
of
these recent studies are limited in two important aspects.
First, they used ad hoc groups or did not give their groups sufficient time to adapt
to one another or the communication medium. Recent evidence suggests that when
virtual teams are given sufficient time to develop strong intragroup relationships
and to adapt to the communication medium, they may communicate as effectively
as
face-to-face groups (Chidambaram, 1996). A second limitation of the CMCS
literature is the predominance
of
studies using synchronous (same time) rather
than asynchronous (different time) technologies. Asynchronous technologies,
which include email and discussion forums, are probably more common in the
business world than synchronous technologies (Kinney
&
Panko, 1996). Further,
asynchronous technologies offer certain advantages for groups exchanging infor-
mation and may allow group members to concentrate on message content. For
example, individuals can take time to reflect on the message they receive and to
carefully consider their responses.
In this study, teams using an asynchronous system are compared to teams
meeting face-to-face. All teams are engaged in a specific information exchange
task. The primary research question is whether teams using an asynchronous sys-
tem develop social links or relationships (relational links) as strong as those in
face-to-face groups. In the next section, computer-mediated communication sys-
tems are briefly described, focusing on the differences between synchronous and
asynchronous systems. Next, the relevant literature
on
the effects of CMCS
on
groups is summarized, followed by the development of a set of hypotheses. The
results of an experiment designed to test the hypotheses is described and, finally,
the implications of the results are discussed.
COMPUTER-MEDIATED COMMUNICATION SYSTEMS
Computer-mediated communication systems (CMCS) are sociotechnical systems
that support and enhance the communication-related activities of team members
engaged in computer-supported cooperative work. The communication and coor-
dination activities of team members are facilitated by technologies that can be
characterized along the three continua of time, space, and level of group support
(Alavi
&
Keen, 1989; DeSanctis
&
Gallupe, 1987; Johansen, 1988). Teams can
communicate synchronously or asynchronously; they may be located together or
remotely; and the technology can provide task support primarily for the individual
Wurkentin, Sayeed
and
Hightower
977
team member or for the group’s activities. These computer-based communication
technologies are utilized to overcome space and time constraints that burden
face-to-face meetings, to increase the range and depth of information access, and to
improve group task performance effectiveness, especially by overcoming “process
losses” (McGrath
&
Hollingshead, 1993, 1994). Further, CMCS increase the
range, capacity, and speed of managerial communications (Culnan
&
Markus,
1987). They can also “reduce or eliminate the expense and inconvenience associ-
ated with distributed work” (Galegher
&
Kraut, 1994, p. 11 1). One objective of
using these technologies is to create comparable levels of communication speed
and effectiveness as those achieved at traditional meetings.
CMCS provide support for either synchronous or asynchronous meetings.
Synchronous meetings are spontaneous, where ideas are exchanged with little
structure. Participants communicate with each other in such a way that it is some-
times difficult to attribute an idea to one participant or to establish the reason
behind a particular decision. It is estimated that managers spend
60%
of their com-
munication time in synchronous meetings (Panko, 1992), which include face-to-
face meetings, telephone calls, desktop conferencing, Web-based “chat rooms,”
and the Internet Relay Chat (IRC).
On the other hand, asynchronous meetings are more structured than synchro-
nous meetings. These meetings rely more on documents exchanged among partic-
ipants. Compared to synchronous meetings, asynchronous meeting participants
have longer to compose their messages and, therefore, it is easy to attribute an idea
to its originator and establish the reason behind a particular decision. However,
asynchronous meetings require more time than synchronous meetings because
information exchange takes longer. Asynchronous meetings are frequently used by
groups in which at least one participant is in a remote location (Kinney
&
Panko,
1996). CMCS technologies that facilitate asynchronous meetings include elec-
tronic mail (email), Electronic Document Management, bulletin board systems,
and Internet Usenet newsgroups. One study (Straub
&
Karahanna, 1990) indicated
that email (the most popular medium of communication in the workplace) users
who share pre-meeting information report more effective communication during
the meeting.
Computer conferencing, which
is
a “structured form of electronic mail in
which messages are organized by topic and dialogues are often mediated”
(Baecker, 1993, p. 1; see also Hiltz
&
Turoff, 1978), can be asynchronous (such as
bulletin board systems and Internet Usenet newsgroups) or synchronous (such as
“chat rooms” and the IRC). The technology explored in this paper (Meeting-
WebTM) is an asynchronous computer conference technology and is explained in
detail below.
VIRTUAL VERSUS FACE-TO-FACE TEAMS: THE IMPACT
OF
CMCS
ON
GROUPS
The effects of the reduced “communication modalities” on virtual team members
and the circumstances in which these effects occur has been the focus of much of
the CMCS research (McGrath
&
Hollingshead, 1994). Although not definitive
in terms of specific effects, the research in this area suggests that CMCS groups
978
Virtual Teams versus Face-to-Face Teams
communicate differently than face-to-face groups (Chidambaram,
1996;
Hight-
ower
&
Hagmann,
1995;
Hightower
&
Sayeed,
1995;
Hiltz, Johnson,
&
Turoff,
1986;
Kiesler
&
Sproull,
1992;
McGrath
&
Hollingshead,
1994;
Siegal,
Dubrovsky, Kiesler,
&
McGuire,
1986;
Wiseband, Schneider,
&
Connolly,
1995).
While there is a plethora of research describing various technologies for computer-
mediated communications, there is a lack of studies examining “sustained, project-
oriented teamwork of the sort that is important in most real-world organizations”
(Galegher
&
Kraut,
1994,
p.
11
1).
An analysis of CMCS communication charac-
teristics is warranted.
The present study explores the role of a CMCS in facilitating communica-
tion among members of virtual teams. CMCS impose constraints on communi-
cation that are likely to affect a group’s performance. People rely on multiple
modes of communication in face-to-face conversation, such as paraverbal (tone
of voice, inflection, voice volume) and nonverbal (eye movement, facial expres-
sion, hand gestures, and other body language) cues. These cues help regulate the
flow of conversation, facilitate turn taking, provide feedback, and convey subtle
meanings. As a result, face-to-face conversation is a remarkably orderly process.
In normal face-to-face conversation, there are few interruptions or long pauses
and the distribution of participation is consistent, though skewed toward higher
status members (McGrath,
1990).
CMCS preclude these secondary communica-
tion modes, thus altering the orderliness and effectiveness of information
exchange (Hightower, Sayeed, Warkentin,
&
McHaney,
1997).
Such communi-
cation modalities are constrained to a varying extent depending on the character-
istics of the technological system. For example, electronic mail prevents both
paraverbal and nonverbal cues, telephone conference calls allow the use of most
paraverbal cues (but not nonverbal ones), while videoconferencing enables
extensive use of both paraverbal and nonverbal cues.
Virtual teams are not able
to
duplicate the normal “give and take” of
face-to-face discussion. For example, comments of group members using a syn-
chronous CMCS sometimes appear to be out of context, or the conversation may
appear to lack focus because multiple group members are “talking” at once. This
is exacerbated by the inefficiency inherent in the use of a keyboard and the fact that
people type and read at different rates (Siegal et al.,
1986).
Group members who
type slowly or edit more thoroughly may find their comments are no longer rele-
vant when they are ready to transmit them. Moreover, because everyone can trans-
mit their comments simultaneously, group members may be required to process a
large number of comments in a short period of time. For asynchronous CMCS,
considerable delays typically occur between the time a message is sent and the
time a reply is received. This may make it difficult to maintain a train of thought
or a discussion theme.
The lack of nonverbal and paraverbal cues also reduces the richness of the
information transmitted by virtual team members. Daft and
Lengel(l986)
defined
media richness as “the ability
of
information to change understanding within a time
interval (p.
560).”
Rich media allow multiple information cues (the words spoken,
tone of voice, body language, etc.) and feedback. It takes more time and effort by
group members to achieve the same level of mutual understanding in a lean
medium, such as CMCS, than
in
a rich one such as face-to-face communication.
Warkentin, Sayeed and Hightower
979
There is substantial evidence that virtual teams communicate less efficiently
than face-to-face groups (McGrath
&
Hollingshead, 1994; Hightower
&
Sayeed,
1995,1996). Because exchanging information is more difficult, virtual teams tend
to be more task oriented and exchange less social-emotional information, slowing
the development of relational links (Chidambaram, 1996). Development of rela-
tional links is important because researchers have associated strong relational links
with many positive outcomes including enhanced creativity and motivation,
increased morale, better decisions, and fewer process losses (Walther
&
Burgoon,
1992).
McGrath’s TIP theory (Time-Interaction-Performance) offered a means for
understanding the development of relational links in groups (McGrath,
1990).
According to TIP theory, groups perform three functions: (1) production, (2) mem-
ber support, and
(3)
group well-being. The functions are achieved by carrying out
activities in one of four modes:
Mode I: Activities related to choosing goals and objectives.
Mode 11: Activities related to solutions
of
technical issues with regard
to how
to
achieve the group’s goals.
Mode 111: Activities related to conflict resolution.
Mode
IV
Activities related to execution of the requirements
of
the
Developing relational links involves performing activities related to the
member support and group well-being functions. These activities include, for
example, establishing position or group status of members, defining task roles of
group members, and establishing norms for group interaction. Activities that
define relational development are most common after a group experiences a sig-
nificant transition, such as the group’s inception or a change in membership.
Established groups spend less time
on
relational activities and more time
on
task-
oriented activities, and should be more efficient in accomplishing tasks. Because
CMCS reduce the amount and richness of the information that can be exchanged,
it is more difficult for virtual teams to complete relationship-developing activities
compared to face-to-face teams.
A question that has been raised by some researchers relates
to
whether the
limitations of computer-mediated communication systems prevent groups from
developing relational links as strong as face-to-face groups or whether the limita-
tions simply increase the time it takes for these relational links to develop
(Chidambaram, 1996; Burke
&
Chidambaram, 1995; Chidambaram
&
Bostrom,
1993). These researchers argued that, with time, CMCS groups would overcome
the limitations of the media and achieve the same level of relational links and,
therefore, the same level of performance as face-to-face groups.
Therefore, comparative research studies should allow virtual teams suffi-
cient time to develop the same level of relational links as face-to-face groups. Fur-
ther, much of the research that has investigated relational links in virtual teams has
used synchronous systems such as computer conferencing and group support sys-
tems with “colocated groups” (Chidambaram, 1996). In a synchronous meeting,
group’s task.
980
Virtual Team
versus
Face-to-Face Teams
the effect of an inefficient communication medium would be felt to a greater extent
than
in
an asynchronous meeting. Time pressures present in synchronous meetings
are not necessarily present in asynchronous meetings. A participant in an asyn-
chronous meeting has more time to consider his or her message, decide what to
say, take the time necessary to convey
his
or her thoughts, and edit the message as
much as necessary to achieve clarity. The receiver of the message can read it at his
or her leisure and consider it carefully before responding. This allows more time
to include social-emotional information in the message in addition to the informa-
tion required to accomplish the task. However, due to the leanness of the medium
and the limited modes of communication, it should still be more difficult to form
strong relational links in groups using asynchronous CMCS than for face-to-face
groups. Thus, our first hypothesis is:
H
1
:
Face-to-face teams will exhibit stronger relational links than
virtual (CMCS) teams.
Stronger relational links in groups have been associated with higher perfor-
mance. The task used in this study is one that requires the groups to exchange
information effectively. Previous studies have shown that both face-to-face groups
and groups using synchronous CMCS exchange information poorly (Hightower
&
Sayeed, 1995, 1996; Stasser
&
Titus, 1985,
1987).
Asynchronous CMCS provide
a distinct advantage for this type of task over both synchronous CMCS and face-
to-face communication. Group members can take the time necessary
to
compose
clear and complete messages. As a result, time pressures or information load
should not affect the group’s performance.
Information exchange is
also
affected strongly by the group’s internal
dynamics or relational links. Two factors that affect information exchange are
opportunity and motivation to contribute information (Hightower
&
Sayeed,
1996). Opportunity is affected in part by the effects of social status; group mem-
bers of lower social status often don’t have the same opportunities to contribute as
higher status members. Motivation is affected by the willingness of group mem-
bers to contribute information that may contradict their own opinions or those
of
other group members. Motivation is also affected by whether the group member
feels he has a stake in the group’s outcome. Despite the advantages that asynchro-
nous CMCS offer for exchanging information, stronger relational links will allow
face-to-face groups to exchange information more effectively. Our second hypoth-
esis is divided into two parts:
H2a: Face-to-face teams will exhibit higher performance results, as
indicated by information exchange effectiveness, than virtual
(CMCS) teams.
H2b: Information exchange effectiveness will be positively associated
with relational links.
The measure of information exchange effectiveness used in this study is
identical to the one used by Hightower and Sayeed (1995, 1996). described in the
Instrument section below.
Warkentin,
Sayeed
and
Hightower
98
1
THE
STUDY
This research study used teams comprised of three members who completed an
information-sharing task. Teams used either asynchronous
CMCS
or face-to-face
communications. The following sections describe the task, the subjects, the
CMCS
itself, the research procedure, and the research instrument.
The
Task
We adapted a case from one described by Pfeiffer and Jones (1977), which
involves choosing the most likely suspect in a murder mystery. The subjects were
supplied with the case description and information about three suspects in
a
mur-
der. The subjects were told that the descriptions were the result of their initial
investigation, and that they were now asked to collaborate with two other investi-
gators who have also performed preliminary investigations in order to solve the
crime. Examples of the information contained in the case are shown in Table
1.
This established task was selected rather than a business-oriented case because it
does not require background functional knowledge such as accounting, finance,
marketing, etc., and therefore, isolates the communication aspects of solving the
simple task. The case can be solved using common sense, and our experience has
shown that this type of case engenders a high level of interest and motivation
among the students used in this experiment (Hightower
&
Sayeed, 1995, 1996).
The case description was a half page in length and mentioned eight attributes
considered important for identifying the murderer. The suspect descriptions listed
attributes about the suspects that were consistent with the suspect having commit-
ted the crime and attributes that were not consistent with the suspect having com-
mitted the crime. The exchange of unique information was a key research variable.
Some of the items appeared on all three subjects’ descriptions within one team
(common information) while other items appeared on only one team member’s
description (unique information). The unique information could not be known and
considered by the entire team unless the member who was privy to it chose to share
it with the rest of the group. This information exchange was a key research variable.
This task was an “intellective task” according to Laughlin’s
(
1980) typology,
which is a task with a correct answer to be found by the group. Further, because
the correct answer can be found using common sense, the task can be categorized
as relatively low on the complexity continuum-once the team members each “lay
their cards on the table,” the solution is apparent. In other words, the fundamental
requirement to solve the problem is effective communication.
Subjects
The subjects, who were undergraduate students at three different large universi-
ties, completed the experiment as part of a course requirement. The participating
universities included Northeastern University, which is a large private university
in
Boston; and Kansas State University and San Francisco State University, both
of which are large state universities. The course grade the subjects received was
based, in part, on their participation in the experiment, providing incentive to solve
the mystery, which required collaboration among the team members. --three
subjects (comprised entirely of students at Northeastern University) collaborated
982
Virtual Teams versus Face-to-Face Teams
Table
1:
Information contained in the Murder Mystery Case.
Case Characteristic Incriminating Vindicating
Your
initial investigation has
revealed that the murderer
entered the house through a
secret passage that bypassed
the security system.
The victim’s allergic reaction
to bee stings was not common
knowledge. allergy.
Suspect was one ofthe
contractors
for
the original
COn~tnhm.
Suspect had no apparent
knowledge of the house.
Suspect was the victim’s
doctor. Unknown if suspect had
any knowledge of the
in face-to-face meetings two days after their clues were disclosed to them. These
three-person face-to-face team members were randomly assigned to their respec-
tive teams. Another
39
subjects (three-person virtual teams comprised of one
student randomly assigned from each university) collaborated with the support of
MeetingWebTM software, described below.
A
total of
13
virtual teams and
11
face-to-face teams participated in the study, comprised of 72 individual team
members who completed the survey instrument. Thus, the sample size was 72.
These individuals and their teams were comparable in all meaningful ways, as
discussed below.
Procedure and Teams
Subjects in the face-to-face groups were provided with the case description two
days before their meeting time and were told to study the clues carefully. On
arrival to their meeting, subjects surrendered
the
case description (with the suspect
clues) to the experimenter. The groups were told that their goal was to discuss the
case and to try to form a consensus as to the most likely suspect in the crime. They
then met for approximately 25 minutes, until each team reached a consensus deci-
sion. A post-test was administered at the end of the meeting.
The virtual teams (or “CMCS groups”) obviously required considerably
more than 25 minutes to complete their collaboration due to the asynchronous
medium, which required “turnaround time” to read and respond to messages
posted to their computer conferences. The need for additional time was exacer-
bated by differences in time zones and class schedules, and the need to access the
conference from university computer labs, The virtual teams were provided with
the case descriptions and were given three weeks to complete their collaboration
and solve the murder mystery. They were told that their partners may be at other
universities, but no information concerning the location of their partners was pro-
vided by the researchers, the software, or by their usernames. As they collaborated,
subjects were allowed to retain their case descriptions (with the suspect clues). At
the completion of their three-week interval,
the
post-test was administered.
These 72 individuals and their 24 teams were comparable based on several
factors.
All
72 subjects were undergraduate business majors who were given a
course grade incentive to succeed in solving the murder mystery. Beyond the indi-
vidual demographic
parity
and motivational equality, the teams themselves were
Warkentin, Sayeed and Hightower
983
very similar except for the communication medium. All teams were comprised of
three individuals with no assigned leader. All teams engaged in discussion con-
cerning the murder and the available clues. All subjects were given sufficient time
to evaluate the clues individually and to collaborate with teammates. Although the
face-to-face teams were given only two days to evaluate the clues versus the three-
week time allowance given the virtual teams (to compensate for the constraints
imposed by time differences and technology), all participants reported that they
had sufficient time to evaluate the clues and consider the mystery.
The
System
The asynchronous CMCS used in this study was MeetingWebTM, a secure, moder-
ated bulletin board system accessible from the World Wide Web. MeetingWebTM
is a custom proprietary collaboration software system residing on the Northeastern
University College of Business Administration (CBA) web server and accessible
to anyone with a connection to the Internet (such as an
ISP),
any web client
(browser) software (such as Netscape), a valid username, and a valid password. It
is a computer conferencing system that provides textual and graphical communi-
cation capabilities to its users.
MeetingWebTM was designed to have a familiar look and feel to users of the
World Wide Web, a new standard platform for computer communications. “The
interface
is
the system for most users. However well or poorly designed, it stands
as the representation of the system” (Kendall
&
Kendall, 1995, p.
635).
The Meet-
ingWebTM system is easy to use; pilot tests confirmed that the participants could
learn and use the system with only a brief introduction. The system permits group
members to communicate by “posting” messages in a hierarchical manner. A
“comment” (message) can be posted as a new “topic” (leftmost in the hierarchy),
as a reply to a topic (indented under that topic), or as a reply to a reply. Usenet
newsgroups term this structure a “threaded discussion.” The indenting scheme
appears as a familiar outline format. This intuitive structure makes the organiza-
tion of the messages clear and unambiguous. Furthermore, the source of each mes-
sage is clearly identified; the system provides eponymity.
Characteristics of the system other than its ability to facilitate communica-
tion among team members did not appear to be a factor in the study. Parentheti-
cally, the system’s default feature of displaying only
<new
or
previously unread>
comments, unless reconfigured to show
<all>
comments, may have slowed the
adoption of the software by a few participants until the feature was demonstrated
to them. (They thought their previously read messages were “gone!”) This unan-
ticipated anecdotal factor, however,
no
longer created a distinction among groups
once all participants were “retrained” to reconfigure their views.
MeetingWebTM was developed by and licensed from Citysource Inc., and
has been further customized for
CBA’s
use with custom extensions. Figure 1
shows a representative screen of the MeetingWebTM conference system. More
information about MeetingWebTM can be found at
http://www.cba.neu.edu/Meet-
i
ng We b
.
The near ubiquity of the World Wide Web today makes MeetingWebTM (and
other web-based CMCS) extremely accessible to
a
broad audience. Further, the
984
Figure
1:
Sample screen from MeetingWebTM.
Virtual Teams versus Face-to-Face Teams
protocol
of
the
web (hypertext transfer protocol, or HTTP) is hardware indepen-
dent,
so
it provides an essentially universal platform for communication support
among virtual team members.
The Instrument
Three sets
of
variables were measured using the post-test instrument: Measures of
Relational Links, Group Performance Measures, and User
WWW
Use variables.
Three relational variables were measured: Group Cohesiveness, Perceptions
of
Group Interaction Process, and Satisfaction with Group Outcomes (see Table
2).
Cohesiveness is defined as the extent to which the group members are
attracted to the group and each other, and has been found
to
be related to many
desirable traits in groups (Chidambaram,
1996).
Perceptions of a group’s interac-
tion process include such aspects as trust, openness, and participatory equality.
Positive perceptions of the interaction process have been associated with process
gains while negative perceptions are associated with process losses (Steiner,
1972). Satisfaction with outcomes is related, in part, to the attitudes of the group
members towards one another (Chidambaram).
As
group members develop more
positive attitudes towards one another, their satisfaction with the group’s work
increases. Cohesiveness was measured using Seashore’s
(1954)
Index of Group
Cohesiveness, while the remaining variables were measured using an instrument
developed by Chidambaram.
Warkentin, Sayeed and
Hightower
985
Table
2:
Factors influencing relational links among team members.
Relational
Variable Definition
Perceptions
of
group cohesiveness
Perceptions
of
group
interaction
process participatory equality
Satisfaction
with
group outcomes
The
extent
to which the group members are
attracted
to
the group
and
to each other
Includes aspects of trust, openness,
and
Related to positive attitudes of group
members toward one another
Source: Chidambarum
(1996)
Two types of data were collected to measure group performance. Each of the
subjects also individually indicated who they thought was the most likely suspect
and rated the certainty of this preference on a 7-point Likert scale. First, each
group’s choice of the most likely suspect was indicated. Second, subjects individ-
ually wrote down everything they knew about the three suspects, including what
they learned from their own material and what they learned through group discus-
sion.
A
measure
of
information exchange effectiveness was obtained by counting
the number of unique information items on each subject’s post-test that they could
not have known prior to discussion. This number was then divided by the total
possible number of unique information items the subject could not have known
before discussion, the result being the unique information-exchanged variable.
The measure of information exchange effectiveness is identical to the one used by
Hightower and Sayeed (1995, 1996).
Data were also collected from the CMCS group members to measure the
subjects’ level of experience with CMCS and the
WWW.
An excerpt of the instru-
ment used for the virtual teams appears in the Appendix. The instrument used for
the face-to-face teams was nearly identical.
RESULTS
HI proposes that face-to-face groups will have stronger relational links than
CMCS groups. Data anaIysis supported this hypothesis. A MANOVA indicated a
difference in the three relational variables between the two team categories
(F=3.05,~=.0422). Table 3 shows the results of ANOVA performed for each of the
relational variables. Cohesion, Perceptions
of
Group Interaction Process, and Sat-
isfaction with Outcomes are all significant. The means for the three relational
variables are shown in Table
4.
Face-to-face groups reported a higher degree of
cohesion, were more satisfied with the decision process followed by the groups,
and were more satisfied with the team’s outcome.
H2a states that face-to-face groups will exchange information more effec-
tively than CMCS groups. Data analysis did not support this hypothesis. An
ANOVA indicated no statistically significant difference in the proportion of
unique information items exchanged between the two team types or categories
(F=
3.84,
p=
.065).
The mean of the dependent variable (the proportion of unique
986
Virtual Teams versus Face-to-Face Teams
Table
3:
Results of
ANOVA
for Hypothesis 1.
Variable
F
(d’=l,
24) p-value
Cohesion 7.78
.O
107
Perceptions of Group Interaction Process 7.36
.O
1
27
Satisfaction with Outcomes 11.64 .0025
Table 4:
Means of relational variables.
Remote Face-to-Face
Dependent Variable
(n=
13)
(n=
11)
Cohesion (25) 16.7 19.7
Perceptions of Group Interaction Process (35) 23.8 29.0
Satisfaction with Outcomes (28) 19.8 25.2
Values in parentheses show maximum values for each dependent variable.
information items exchanged) for the face-to-face groups (.439) was higher than
the mean for the virtual teams (.318). Although not statistically significant,
face-to-face groups exchanged more unique information in one meeting than
CMCS groups did in three weeks of online communications.
H2b proposes that information exchange will be higher for groups with
stronger relational links.
A
stepwise regression analysis, with the unique informa-
tion exchanged as the dependent variable and the four relational links as the inde-
pendent variables, was conducted to test this hypothesis. The results are shown in
Table
5.
The only significant predictor to enter the model at a
.05
level of signifi-
cance was the Perceptions of Group Interaction Process variable
(F=5.57,
p=.02
1).
The coefficient indicates that groups with higher cohesion exchanged information
more effectively than groups with lower cohesion. However, the resulting
R2
was
only
.072,
indicating that a substantial proportion of the dependent variable
remained unexplained by the relational links.
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS
The findings of the present study provide several insights into the communication
process of virtual groups. First, the advantages of collaboration technologies may
not always outweigh their disadvantages. While collaboration technologies have
the capability
of
creating a communication environment for virtual partners who
are separated by time and/or space, they may hinder the development of a strong
sense of cohesion and satisfaction with the group’s interaction process. Second, the
strength of relational links is positively associated with the effectiveness
of
infor-
mation exchange.
Therefore, the loss of relationship building in virtual teams implies that the
use of traditional meetings as a supplement to the use
of
CMCS might be useful
Warkentin, Sayeed and Hightower
987
Table
5:
Results of regression analysis of relational variables on unique
information exchanged variable.
Variable Coefficient Partial
R2
t-Statistic p-value
Interaction Process
Perceptions of Group
0.01
.072 5.57 .021
(preferably in an early stage) for creating a sense of belonging to a group. McGrath
(1990) suggested that teams spend proportionally more time on relationship devel-
opment activities during periods of significant transition, such as the group’s incep-
tion or a change in membership. Established groups spend more time
on
task-
oriented activities. In the absence of the ability to have an initial face-to-face meet-
ing, other avenues for building
strong
relationships are advised to ensure the cohe-
siveness and effectiveness of the team’s interaction. Figure
2
shows both task-
oriented communication and relational development messages for one virtual team.
The findings of this study
are
exploratory in nature. Using a CMCS was a
unique experience for most of these participants. It is likely that people would
become more effective using a CMCS with practice (Hollingshead, McGrath,
&
O’Connor, 1993). Frequent users of discussion forums on the Internet and online
services develop ways to convey more meaning in their messages as a means of
replacing paraverbal and nonverbal cues. The use of symbols called “emoticons”
is one example (McGrath
&
Hollingshead, 1994). One only needs to spend some
time reading the messages posted on some of the more controversial online forums
to determine that quite detailed and emotional discussions
are
possible. Asynchro-
nous media such as email, electronic bulletin boards, and the MeetingWebTM sys-
tem used in this study are more conducive to carefully constructed dialogue than
synchronous conferencing systems such as Groupsystems
V
and videoconference
systems. This is supported by the data in Table
6,
which shows the correlations
between self-reported User WWWkomputer experience variables and the three
relational variables. Only two correlations are significant at the
.05
level.
WWW
use was positively correlated with Perceptions of Group Interaction Process and
Cohesion. This means that relational links were stronger in groups whose mem-
bers reported more frequent use of the WWW than other groups. Being more
familiar with the
WWW
may allow frequent users to concentrate on their interac-
tion with other group members rather than
on
the system itself.
CREATING VIRTUAL TEAMS
:
GUIDELINES FOR
ORGANIZATIONS ON THE BLEEDING EDGE
While face-to-face teams reported greater satisfaction with the group interaction
process, the exchange of information was
no
more effective than that in virtual
teams.
In
other words, there was
no
statistically significant difference between the
effectiveness of communication (as measured by information exchange), but the
traditional teams have more positive perceptions of the interactivity and the
results. Therefore, since virtual teams
are
becoming a necessary tool, organiza-
tions must strive to bolster the satisfaction level of CMCS. If this were done, there
988
Figure
2:
Illustrative screen from one virtual team.
Virtual Teams versus Face-to-Face Teams
would be no significant drawback to the use of virtual teams, which can be made
more acceptable and satisfying in several ways.
While a large amount of research about technology-supported work groups
has been conducted and published, there are relatively few axioms that can be
identified, due to the complexity of this technological-social realm. Deep under-
standing of the social and psychological aspects is probably more elusive. It may
also be more difficult to codify the social and psychological aspects than the tech-
nological factors employed in creating and managing
CMCS.
Nevertheless, an
attempt to identify some of the general principles that can be used by organizations
seeking to capture the advantages of these emerging technologies is warranted.
Jay (1976) suggested a set of guidelines for organizing and conducting a
meeting that offer useful insights for the
CMCS
designer. He started by insisting
on
defining the objective of the meeting, and defined ways to assess each agenda
item. He noted that proper preparation is required to ensure the group’s success,
including the identification of appropriate participants, the distribution of all
appropriate documents beforehand, and establishment of the role of the leader.
Among his guidelines for conducting a meeting were “draw out the silent,” “pro-
tect the weak,” and “encourage the clash of ideas.”
The decision to implement
CMCS
is often based on necessity stemming
from geographic separation of group members. Ideally, however, the unique char-
acteristics of
CMCS
when compared to face-to-face and other communication
modes should dictate when they are used. Zack (1993) showed that the highly
Warkentin, Sayeed and Hightower
989
Table
6:
Correlation of relational variables with
WWW
use of team members.
~~
Outcomes Process Cohesion
WWW
use
.4587
S667
.6023
Bold values
are significant at
.05
level.
interactive nature of face-to-face meetings makes this mode “appropriate for
building a shared interpretive context among group members, while [CMCS],
being less interactive, is more appropriate for communicating
within
an estab-
lished context” (p.
207),
such as ongoing discourse consisting primarily of “adja-
cency pairs.” Ongoing groups have an established culture and set of routines, and
may have a greater commitment to achieving effective communications. Further,
Zack suggested that while “social presence” (a sense of belonging) is dimin-
ished
in
CMCS, it is the lack of interactivity that primarily constrains computer-
mediated communication.
Another factor to consider when creating effective virtual teams is the psy-
chological profile and personality characteristics of the specific team members. In
order to be successful in this environment, participants must possess patience, per-
sistence, and perseverance along with a certain degree of tolerance, flexibility, and
understanding. The traditional methods of control and influence that we are social-
ized to utilize as children may not be effective in computer-mediated environ-
ments. Users of CMCS must exercise leadership and influence with little means of
social control, and some members may become “lost in cyberspace” and may
“drop out” of virtual teams in the void of familiar communications patterns. Care
must be exercised to develop and foster familiarity and proficiency with these new
tools and techniques
of
social interaction. This represents an entirely new para-
digm of communication that must be learned, much like the rules and methods
of
face-to-face communications that must be learned by all children.
The most important goal of CMCS is to foster interaction, inclusion, and par-
ticipation (McGrath, 1991), which are all related to the feeling of “being there,” or
social presence. Social presence defines the extent to which a communication
medium allows participants to experience each other as being psychologically
close or present (Fulk
&
Boyd, 1991). Face-to-face communication, for example,
is characterized by social cues such as nonverbal and paraverbal communications
channels and continuous feedback (Rogers, 1986). The success of computer-
mediated communication systems lies in part on their ability to provide the partic-
ipants with socioemotional content sharing. Clearly, videoconferencing offers a
greater opportunity for sharing these social cues than text-based communications
modes, yet the latter do not entirely lack such cues (Rice
&
Love, 1987; Walther
&
Burgoon, 1992). Designers of CMCS should work explicitly to incorporate
innovative methods and channels for sharing various cues between participants.
For example, users might be trained in the use of “emoticons” (also known as
“smileys”) to increase the media richness of their communications. Numerous lin-
guistic conveniences in computer messages are evident in the culture of CMCS
users, such as “BTW’ for “by the way” and “IMHO” for “in my humble opinion,”
can also create a more familiar or informal sense for the communications
990
Virtual Teams versus Face-to-Face Teams
exchange, which can serve to increase social presence. Whereas many first-time
users of CMCS such as email might write formal messages that read like a business
letter, the messages of high-volume users usually evolve into a far more familiar
tone with personal comments that serve to create
a
greater sense of actually speak-
ing with someone.
Kraut, Fish, Root, and Chalfonte (1993) suggested that whereas formal com-
munication is characterized by preset agendas between arranged participants
scheduled in advance with “impoverished content,” informal communication
often occurs spontaneously with no arranged agenda between random participants
with richer content. Further, they showed that informal encounters create a com-
mon context and perspective that support planning and coordination of group
work. Without informal exchanges, “collaboration is less likely to start and less
productive if it does occur” (Kraut et al., p. 313). Participants in purely computer-
mediated systems who have never met and exchanged informal conversation have
exhibited a strong desire to
do
so
when given the opportunity. Whenever the envi-
ronment affords the opportunity, it would behoove CMCS developers to facilitate
informal face-to-face contact early in the project life cycle.
Managers who wish to introduce these technologies into the workplace
should capitalize on the beneficial differences inherent in computer-mediated
communications and mitigate the negative differences. New communication tech-
nologies such as the MeetingWebTM allow organizations to create virtual teams as
needs arise without regard for the geographical location of the team members.
Many of the technologies are still evolving and unique issues arise as new organi-
zational structures are implemented.
As
a result, each scenario is likely to provide
novel problems, and modem managers must be flexible to restructure their socio-
technical system as such problems are encountered. This requires that managers
become familiar with the strengths and limitations of the relevant technologies.
This study highlighted some of the characteristics of a Web-based conferencing
system. The relevance of this type of system will grow as corporate “intranets”
become a widespread platform for intraorganizational communications.
FUTURE
RESEARCH
The findings of the present study suggest several avenues for future research. First,
this study might be replicated with experienced users to determine whether signif-
icantly higher levels of computer familiarity and web use might contribute to any
interesting differences between face-to-face and virtual teams. Second, not all
teams are strictly virtual or strictly face-to-face. Examination of various combina-
tions of amalgamated teams (with both types of interaction for all members or with
only some members using one or the other medium exclusively) might be
illustrative.
Third, the group’s ability to perform the three group functions described by
the TIP theory can be investigated (McGrath, 1991). For example, this may
involve a detailed analysis of the group interactions to track what activities are per-
formed by the groups and how well they are accomplished. The development of
relational links may be tracked over time to determine whether relationship devel-
oping activities are as effective in CMCS groups as in face-to-face groups and
Warkentin, Sayeed and Hightower
99
1
whether CMCS groups can achieve the same level of relational links as face-to-
face groups.
Another avenue of research is to examine which media virtual team members
select for specific tasks and whether they choose appropriate media based on
media richness or social presence. A related question is how a virtual group’s per-
formance is affected by the use of different combinations of communication
media. Another topic
of
interest is the effect of cultural factors
on
virtual team pro-
cesses and outcomes. A comprehensive contingency framework might be devel-
oped to incorporate many of these relationships between and among system and
environmental factors, which could serve as a guide to CMCS researchers and
practitioners alike.
Another factor that may affect how users accept CMCS
is
organizational
subcultures. Research has suggested that membership in a particular subculture
may be more useful for predicting a user’s satisfaction with an information
sys-
tem than other variables such as demographic measures (Kendall, Buffington,
&
Kendall, 1987). The implications of subcultures for the use of CMCS is unknown
although it might be reasonable to assume that,
as
with satisfaction with other
information systems, satisfaction with CMCS may be affected by subculture mem-
bership. However, with virtual teams an additional factor that must be considered
is that team members may not even be members
of
the same organization or may
be members of independent divisions of the same organization. Thus, the organi-
zational cultures of the team members may be very different. The effect this may
have on a team’s performance and satisfaction remains an interesting and largely
unanswered question. [Received: May 21, 1996. Accepted: July 14, 1997.1
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APPENDIX: SURVEY INSTRUMENT (FOR VIRTUAL TEAMS)
Group Cohesiveness
1.
Do you feel that you were really a part of this team?
CI
Really a part of my work team
D
Included in most ways
P
Included in some ways, but not in others
D
Didn’t feel
I
really belonged too much
CI
Didn’t feel I belonged at all
2.
If you had a chance to do
the
same kind of work again, how would you feel
about moving to another team versus staying in the same team?
0
Would want very much to stay in the same team
0
Would rather stay in the same team than move to another team
0
Would make no difference to me
CI
Would rather move to another team than stay in the same team
CI
Would want very much to move to another team
How
does this group compare with other teams on each of the following points?
Very Better About Worse Very
Much Than The Than Much
Better Most Same Most Worse
The way people:
3.
got along together
P P
CI
P
P
4.
worked together
P
CI
CI
CI
P
5.
helped each other
P
D
CI
CI
P
Perceptions
of
process
To
a
very little
To
a
very great
extent
To
some
extent extent
1
2 3 4
5
6
7
6.
Were team members committed to the goals and objectives
of
the team (during
this project)?
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
Warkentin, Sayeed and Hightower
995
7.
To
what extent was trust exhibited within the team (during this project)?
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8.
Did members have a strong sense of belonging to the team (during this
project)?
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
9.
Did team members recognize and respect individual differences and contribu-
tions (during this project)?
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
10.
Were team members open and frank in expressing their ideas and feelings
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
(during this project)?
Satisfaction with Outcomes
Strongly Strongly
Disagree Undecided
Agree
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
11. Overall,
I
was personally satisfied with the team decision process.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
12.
This team produced effective and valuable results during this project.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
13.
I
agree with the final decision of the team.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
14.
Overall, the quality of this meeting team’s interaction was high.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
Yourself
15. Describe (rate) your
general
skill level with computers:
0
1
2
3
4
5
None Very
Low Low
Medium High
Very
High
(“illiterate”) (“newbie”) (novice) (intermediate) (advanced)
(expert)
16.
Describe (rate) your skill level with using the
World Wide
Web:
0
1
2
3
4
5
(“illiterate”) (“newbie”) (novice) (intermediate) (advanced)
(expert)
None
Very
Low Low
Medium High
Very
High
17.
How often do
you
use the
WWW?
0
1
2
3
4
5
Never Rarely Occasionally Regularly
or
Frequently “Constantly”
or Monthly Weekly (Almost Daily) or Daily
996
Virtual
Teams versus Face-to-Face Teams
Merrill E. Warkentin
is an associate professor of MIS in the College of Business
Administration, Northeastern University in Boston, MA. His research, primarily
involving IT management, knowledge engineering, computer security, and
electronic commerce, has appeared in such journals as
Decision Sciences,
MIS
Quarterly, Expert Systems, ACM Applied Computing Review, Journal of Computer
Information Systems,
and
The Journal
of
Intelligent Technologies.
Dr. Warkentin
has served as an associate editor and guest editor of several journals, and as a
consultant to numerous companies and organizations. He has also been a featured
speaker at over
100
industry association meetings and is currently a national
lecturer for the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). He received his
Ph.D. in MIS from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Lutfus Sayeed
is an associate professor of MIS in the College of Business
Administration, San Francisco State University. His research focuses on information
sharing in groups using computer-mediated communication systems, adoption/
diffusion of information technology, and impact of information technology. His
work has appeared in journals such as
Information Systems Research, Information
and Management, Computers
in
Human Behavior; Accounting, Management and
Information Technologies,
and
Journal
of
Znformation Technology Management.
He
received his doctorate in business administration from Georgia State University.
Ross
Hightower
is an associate professor of MIS in
the
College of Business
Administration, Kansas State University. His research focuses on computer-
mediated communication and information sharing in groups as well as adoption/
diffusion of technology. His work has appeared in journals such as
Information
Systems Research, Information and Management, Computers in Human Behavior,
and
Journal of Information Technology Management.
He received his doctorate in
business administration from Georgia State University.
... However, concerns about the efficiency and timeliness of online education have existed for a very long time, as shown by Barrett [60]. Many organisations have formed virtual work teams to collaborate on a variety of tasks, and although the performance and effectiveness achieved have been similar to the performance achieved by traditional teams, face-to-face team members have reported higher levels of satisfaction [61]. One of the most important advantages of online education is providing more flexibility to the time and space used for learning [62]. ...
... The hypothesis by which we tested the negative impact of students' desire to study face-to-face was validated, and was consistent with the results of Warkentin et al. [61] and Botha et al. [66]. Our results partially contradict those of Mitchell et al. [64] and Liu et al. [65]. ...
Article
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The COVID-19 pandemic has caused disruption to activities in many fields, including education and lifestyle. Major changes have taken place in the education system, where specific activities migrated suddenly from onsite to online. As a result, this period has witnessed an increased interest in impact studies that analyse the perceptions of the actors involved in the educational process. Based on the survey data (N = 665), the perceptions of the students in Romanian universities with regard to the effects of online education during the pandemic on their wellbeing were analysed. The empirical apparatus—SEM analysis—reached the following conclusions: the students’ wellbeing was increased under the traditional education system; the economic crisis has caused concern, and a decrease in their wellbeing; their contamination fear is moderate to low, and does not influence their wellbeing; they have been discouraged in terms of their personal development during the pandemic, and their wellbeing has suffered as a result; the role of institutions is extremely important, given that the students’ ability to study online depends on the universities’ efficiency in implementing the online system.
... As a result, different communication patterns and discourse management strategies characterize the RS and CC channels. While face-to-face communications (such as RSs) are more cohesive and personal, technology-mediated communications (such as CCs) are more task-oriented with clearer role expectations (Jonassen and Kwon 2001;Warkentin et al. 1997). People in virtual channels tend to eliminate elaborations and repetitions in order to increase the efficiency of communication (Jonassen and Kwon 2001). ...
... When interacting in an environment that is more restricted in information cues and social presence, people tend to adapt their communication style to place a greater emphasis on task-oriented conversation and less on personal and socio-emotional interactions, thereby directing their attention and effort toward solving the problems at hand (De Ruyter and Wetzels 2000). As virtual channels (e.g., CCs) permit fewer information cues and less social presence than face-to-face channels (Jonassen and Kwon 2001), the communication style is more focused and purposeful (Condon and Cech 1996;Warkentin et al. 1997). In this case, CS employees who are satisfied with their CRM systems (and thus heightened in morale) ...
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To attain customer satisfaction, service firms invest significant resources to implement customer relationship management (CRM) systems to support internal customer service (CS) employees who provide service to external customers in both face-to-face and virtual channels. How CS employees apply sophisticated CRM systems to interact with customers and how the mechanisms through which their CRM usage affects customer satisfaction vary across service channels and bear important implications. We approach these issues by investigating the concept of infusion use, defined as CS employees’ assessment of the extent to which they use a CRM system to its fullest potential to best support their work in the CRM-enabled service interaction context. Drawing on the IS success framework and expectation confirmation theory, we first formulate a baseline model that explains the direct and indirect mechanisms through which CS employees’ infusion use of CRM systems leads to customers’ expectation confirmation, which in turn affects customers’ satisfaction. We then draw on the lenses of media richness and communication adaptation to theorize why these two mechanisms exert differential influence in face-to-face and virtual channels. We test the hypotheses by collecting multiwave data from CS employees, customers, and firm archives of a Fortune 500 telecom service firm. We find that (1) CS employee infusion use can directly contribute to customer expectation confirmation and indirectly do so through CS employees’ satisfaction with the system (i.e., user satisfaction), and (2) the direct mechanism plays a more critical role in the face-to-face channel, whereas the indirect mechanism is more important in the virtual channel. Our findings inform managers of the avenues through which employees’ infusion use promotes CRM-enabled service success across face-to-face and virtual service channels.
... Besides the technical aspects, the main problems, experienced by the students during the e-learning, included the need and the corresponding difficulty to develop own learning schedule and to stay motivated and disciplined, the passive participation and the difficulty to concentrate during the synchronous seminars, the lack of feedback about their learning performance and that of the fellow students, the lack of communication with tutors and peers, spending too much time in front of the computer screen, the lack of good learning conditions, the lack of alternation, all days appear similar to each other, the lack of practical training, inefficient time-management, and the lack of feedback from the audience during own presentations. Consistently, the literature data suggest that computer-aided communication is less effective than face-to-face interaction [5,13]. ...
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Background The social distancing and suspension of on-campus learning, imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, are likely to influence medical training for months if not years. Thus, there is a need for digital replacement for classroom teaching, especially for hands-on courses, during which social distancing is hardly possible. Here, we investigated students’ learning experience with a newly designed digital training course in neurophysiology, with intercalated teaching blocks in either asynchronous (unsupervised online lectures and e-labs) or synchronous (online seminars, supervised by instructors) formats. Methods The accompanying anonymized prospective study included 146 student participants. At the beginning and the end of the course, students were invited to answer anonymous online questionnaires with 18 and 25 items, respectively. We conducted both qualitative analyses of students’ survey responses and statistical analyses of the results of cohort-specific summative examinations. The summative assessment results were compared both between 4 current cohorts and with the respective historical cohorts. Results Despite having little prior experience with e-learning (4.5 on the 1-7 scale), students adapted remarkably well to this online format. They appreciated its higher flexibility, time efficiency, student-oriented nature (especially when using inverted classroom settings), tolerance towards the individual learning style and family circumstances, and valued the ability to work through lectures and e-labs at their own learning speed. The major complaints concerned diminished social contacts with instructors and fellow students, the inability to ask questions as they occur, and the lack of sufficient technical expertise. The students valued the newly developed e-labs, especially the implementation of interactive preparative measures (PreLabs) and the intuitive lab design offered by the chosen software ( Lt Platform from AD Instruments). The summative examinations at the end of the course documented the quality of knowledge transfer, which was comparable to that of previous classically instructed cohorts. Conclusion Despite the missing personal contact between the faculty and the students, inherent to online teaching, the all-digital training course described here proofed to be of good educational value and, in case the pandemic continues, is worse considering for the future. Some of the described building blocks, like digital lectures or interactive PreLabs, may survive the pandemics to enrich the medical education toolbox in the future.
... Virtual collaboration differs from face-to-face collaborations. Face-to-face collaborations are more powerful in developing social norms, authority, group culture and commitment (Axtell et al., 2004) while virtual collaboration results in lower collaboration (Montoya et al., 2011) which leads to lower cohesion and weaker relationships in team members (Warkentin et al., 1997). Thus, the socioemotional factors that affect the collaborative process (Isohätälä et al., 2017) behave differently in the two collaboration modes. ...
Thesis
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Collaborative teams are getting more and more popular. There is a current need to understand how the complex and dynamic system formed by collaborative teams behave when system parameters are changed to see their impact on project outcomes. Research in the past has focused on studying the single elements of the collaborative design like design task, design team structure, design tools and design process (idea generation and idea selection). Understanding the complete system of the design team collaboration is challenging to the researchers as it increases complexity. Therefore, the purpose of this research is to increase the understanding of a collaborative system composed of teams, tasks and its collaboration environment through an agent-based model called MILANO (Model of Influence, Learning, and Norms in Organizations). This computational model is implemented using the Python programming language. MILANO is developed to mimic design team collaboration of the real world, hence it serves as a platform to study and simulate different scenarios of team dynamics that are challenging to control in a laboratory setting. The model is composed of agents that are analogous to humans in design teams who work on a design task by collaboratively generating and selecting solutions. Similar to the real world, the selected solutions are proposed to the controller agent (equivalent to a leader or manager to a problem-solving team), who provides feedback to the team. The research is broadly composed of three parts that fulfil the main purpose of the study. The first one is related to the common scenario where certain individuals who have high social influence (referred to as influencers) than others in the team, affect individual thinking during idea generation and selection. This is further investigated by varying the nature of the design task and the size of the team. The second part is related to the team compositions of experience and novices and their impact on the design outcome when changing the nature of the task. The last bit of the work is related to studying the impact of the collaboration environment (i.e., virtual vs face-to-face team collaboration) on the design outcome for various test cases (like teams with an experienced agent, half of the team with high self-efficacy, all agents with same self-efficacy and all agents with same self-efficacy working on a complex design task). Though most of the model formation is based on the past literature and theories, it also has some assumptions and has parts that needed logical validation. These assumptions were validated through empirical studies conducted in the real world. The empirical results also provide insights into the relationship between model parameters and verified the logic behind its foundation. Although agent-based modelling is an effective approach for simulating collaborative design teams, the validation of the entire model is difficult, especially if there are plenty of parameters to control in a real-world setting. Therefore, continuously validating and verifying the model rationale by means of empirical studies, adds to the strength of the model and its results. The extracted simulation results of the design task outcome were measured in terms of quality, exploration and other team performance parameters like the contribution of team agents. Broadly speaking, the model simulation results showed how varying the parameters of the collaboration design affects the outcomes of a design project. For example, different influencer- team composition has a significant difference in the generated solution quality of their team members. Moreover, having an experienced agent in a team of all novices can increase the quality of the solutions while reducing the variety. Likewise, having half of the team members as more influential, could results in a better outcome when the team collaboration is virtual. From the results, it is clear that a type of team that is effective in one situation might not perform well in other situations. Besides, studying the social, cognitive and environmental factors that were unaccounted for in the past literature, this research introduces a novel way to stimulate learning in agents and metrics for measuring design outcomes related to artificial design agents’ performance. Some of the research findings conform to the literature, hence suggesting that MILANO could be used to study collaboration in design teams and could provide meaningful insights into team formation and management. These findings could be useful in determining appropriate team and task management strategies to obtain near-optimal project outcomes in organizations during the early design phase. In academia, the model that artificially simulates human collaboration could be used as a faster approach to gain insights into different design team collaboration scenarios
...  In terms of conflict ,they found that conflict diverse in virtual teams more of FTF teams due to its diverse and dispersed nature [20].  They compared 11 traditional face to face teams with 13 teams using an asynchronous technology, they found that face to face teams are more cohesive and satisfied with the team's decision and outcome process than VT teams [21]. ...
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Iraq is a wide country in the area and construction projects have been distributed in many places, therefore this research studies the ability to use advanced communication tools such as computer-mediated communication instead of traditional communication (Face To Face). Revit application which based on BIM technology have been used , this application helped in exchange design information between designer and site engineer for in making decisions , solving problems ,reduce wasted time and reduce the expenses that occur as a result of the use of FTF communication .The results concluded from this research are that communication quantity in FTF was more than in CMC where Total Number of Words (TNOW) were in FTF 303 while in CMC 246 , The percentage of Number of Work Related Words said in CMC is higher than in FTF, it was 87% in CMC and 81% in FTF of the (TNOW) , it is indicating that communication in CMC more productive than communication in FTF, in addition to that the working time in CMC were (262 seconds every 5-minutes) slightly higher than in FTF were (252 seconds every 5-minutes), this explains that CMC was slightly more productive than FTF . Wasted time for FTF consistently higher than wasted time in CMC ,where the averages of wasted time spent for every 5 minutes were 32 second in FTF and 21 in CMC ,this is due to that FTF was easier than CMC in terms of social speech. To identify degree collaboration between users in two methods by the total number of exchanges in CMC was higher than in FTF because most of the persons were having more interaction when using CMC.
... A possible reason for this lack of effort in the area of meta-activity functionalities is that there is not enough research and theoretical models that would describe what is actually needed in terms of coordination for communities. The relevant literature focuses on dyadic interaction or relatively small virtual teams and organizations (e.g., Warkentin et al., 1997;Walther, 2012;Lisiecka et al., 2016) but technology for large-scale communities is less researched. ...
Article
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Recent discourse on Information and Communication Technologies’ (ICT) impact on societies has been dominated by negative side-effects of information exchange in huge online social systems. Yet, the size of ICT-based communities also provides an unprecedented opportunity for collective action, as exemplified through crowdfunding, crowdsourcing, or peer production. This paper aims to provide a framework for understanding what makes online collectives succeed or fail in achieving complex goals. The paper combines social and complexity sciences’ insights on structures, mechanics, and emergent phenomena in social systems to define a Community Complexity Framework for evaluating three crucial components of complexity: multi-level structuration, procedural self-organization, and common identity. The potential value of such a framework would be to shift the focus of efforts aimed at curing the malfunctions of online social systems away from the design of algorithms that can automatically solve such problems, and toward the development of technologies which enable online social systems to self-organize in a more productive and sustainable way.
... Information communication technology (ICT), defined as "any electronic device or technology that has the ability to gather, store, or send information" (Day et al., 2012, p. 473), is commonly acknowledged as an enabler of virtual teamwork, however, most research in the field suggests it is a poor substitute for face-to-face interaction and either impairs or has no effect on virtual team performance (for a related review see Gilson et al., 2015). For instance, extensive reliance on ICT is shown to have negative implications, among others, for building trust (e.g., Hill et al., 2009;Wilson et al., 2006), giving and interpreting feedback (Gibson et al., 2011), conflict (Hinds and Bailey, 2003;Hinds and Mortensen, 2005), shared understanding (Cramton, 2011;Griffith et al., 2003), the development of group cohesion and satisfaction (Warkentin et al., 1997), and may be insufficient to bridge discontinuities related to cultural differences (Maznevski and Chudoba, 2000;Sarker and Sahay, 2004). Despite this emphasis on the negative effects of reliance on ICT, some studies have shown that there are also advantages associated with their use. ...
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In this paper, we extend our understanding of the internal dynamics of routines in contexts characterized by increased levels of virtuality. In particular, we focus on the role of routine artifacts in the internal dynamics of routines to answer the question: How does extensive reliance on ICTs due to physical distance, influence the internal dynamics of the new product development routine (i.e. interactions between performative, ostensive, and artifacts of routines) enacted by a virtual team? This paper is based on an 18-month ethnographic study of the new product development routine performed by a virtual team. We relied predominantly on qualitative, ethnographic data collection and analysis methods, using semi-structured interviews, non-participant observation, and the collection of archival data and company documents (formal procedures, guidelines, application designs, etc.). Qualitative research offers a valuable means to investigate dynamic processes in organizations due to its sensitivity to the organizational context and potential to focus on activities as they unfold. Our findings highlight the central role of routine artifacts (ICTs) in the routine dynamics of the new product development routine performed by the virtual team. In particular, we show how the particular types of ICTs team members used in their daily work enabled them to confidently and meaningfully relate to the overall routine activity and coordinate their actions in a context characterized by physical distance and extensive reliance on communication and collaboration technologies. The paper sheds light into role of routine artifacts in the routine dynamics in a context characterized by a high degree of virtuality. Our work contributes to the literature on routine dynamics by theorizing about the processes through which routine artifacts (ICTs) afforded routine participants the ability to act confidently and meaningfully to the present and dynamically coordinate their actions with their fellow routine participants.
Chapter
Software programming is a task with high analyzability. However, knowledge sharing is an intricate part of the software programming process. Today, new media platforms have been adopted to enable knowledge sharing between virtual teams. Taking into consideration the high task analyzability and the task characteristics involved in software development, the question is if the media richness of the current media platform is effective in enabling knowledge sharing among these virtual teams? An exploratory research was conducted on a software company in Denmark. The data was gathered was analyzed qualitatively using narrative analysis. This paper concludes, based on the case being investigated, that rich media does not fit the task characteristics of a software programmer. It further concludes that Media richness does affect knowledge sharing in these virtual teams. This is because the current lean media actually enables knowledge sharing as it fits the core characteristics of the software programming process.
Article
We meta‐analytically assess the virtuality‐team effectiveness relationship using 73 samples of organizational teams (5738 teams) reporting on a wide range of productive (e.g., earnings), performance (e.g., customer ratings), social (e.g., cohesion), and team member (e.g., project satisfaction) outcomes. Our results suggest that in work organizations, virtuality is not a direct input—negative or positive—to team effectiveness. In contrast, using 109 samples of non‐organizational teams (5620 teams), we show that virtuality is a significant negative input to team effectiveness. We also meta‐analytically assess the issue of results generalizability from non‐organizational to organizational settings, and find that overall, results from non‐organizational studies largely fail to generalize to organizational virtual teams. Using moderator analysis, we explore a number of study features that may explain the poor results generalizability from non‐organizational to organizational studies. We find that results from non‐organizational studies using undergraduate students, short team duration, and laboratory settings drive the non‐generalizability effect, whereas results from non‐organizational studies using graduate students, longer team duration, and classroom settings produce results comparable to those of organizational studies of virtual teams. Theoretical, methodological, and practical implications are discussed.
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More and more teams are collaborating virtually across the globe, and the COVID-19 pandemic has further encouraged the dissemination of virtual teamwork. However, there are challenges for virtual teams – such as reduced informal communication – with implications for team effectiveness. Team flow is a concept with high potential for promoting team effectiveness, however its measurement and promotion are challenging. Traditional team flow measurements rely on self-report questionnaires that require interrupting the team process. Approaches in artificial intelligence, i.e., machine learning, offer methods to identify an algorithm based on behavioral and sensor data that is able to identify team flow and its dynamics over time without interrupting the process. Thus, in this article we present an approach to identify team flow in virtual teams, using machine learning methods. First of all, based on a literature review, we provide a model of team flow characteristics, composed of characteristics that are shared with individual flow and characteristics that are unique for team flow. It is argued that those characteristics that are unique for team flow are represented by the concept of collective communication. Based on that, we present physiological and behavioral correlates of team flow which are suitable – but not limited to – being assessed in virtual teams and which can be used as input data for a machine learning system to assess team flow in real time. Finally, we suggest interventions to support team flow that can be implemented in real time, in virtual environments and controlled by artificial intelligence. This article thus contributes to finding indicators and dynamics of team flow in virtual teams, to stimulate future research and to promote team effectiveness.
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First and foremost, decision support systems must be accepted by their users if the systems are to be used. Recently, user satisfaction with DSS has been studied in several different ways. This paper explores the relationship between organizational subcultures and users of DSS, in order to discover how subcultures can be useful in explaining user satisfaction with decision support systems. Active DSS users from three functional areas of a large midwestern financial institution participated in the study. The existence of organizational subcultures was determined through multiple methods and questionnaires were used to determine user satisfaction for the same population of DSS users. The three subcultures were more successful than demographic variables in explaining variation. Implications of this study include utilizing information about subcultures to design decision support systems acceptable to the various subcultures.
Article
This is a book from the 70's that did predict the internet and many of the systems that exist today. Each chapter starts with the future electronic newspaper for the east coast and has a number of "future" news items that did not exist yet but many have occurred now. There are a few items in those future electronic papers that have not yet occurred. The book has many predictive items pointing out the positive and negative possibilities. If your interest in the history and evolution of today's systems this should be a required reading. While the authors retired in 2007 they are still professionally active with papers. The following website has quite a bit of material http://web.njit.edu/~turoff Also the NJIT library has a collection of material by the Computer Conferencing and Communications Center from the EIES system developed at NJIT and the professional reports gives details making it possible to reproduce many original studies. The professional papers of those days did not have enough detail to reproduce actual experiments in decision making and such areas. Early work in the government EMISARI system before 1974 is also included as well as the first ever group conference system before EMISARI (designed to handle natural disasters).
Article
This article presents a theory of groups. The theory takes a more molarperspective on groups than has often been the case in group research. It gives special emphasis to temporal processes in group interaction and task performance. The three main sections of the article present the theory as a series of propositions about the nature of groups, temporal processes in group behavior, and temporal aspects of interaction, respectively. The final section presents brief comments on some implications and potential applications of the theory.