ArticlePDF Available

Abstract and Figures

Modern organizations often consist of teams in which some people are collocated and some are remote. These teams are in-between being entirely virtual to entirely face-to-face and are referred to as partially distributed teams. Partially distributed teams function and operate in two different media environments, varying in availability of communication channels. These media environments may encourage different communication patterns, widening a gap produced by distance. In two laboratory studies we demonstrate that different electronic communication norms (ECNs) emerge among members of the same team based on their media environments. Most of the norms regarding use of electronic communication persisted even when media environment was changed. This difference in ECNs might serve as an additional faultline, causing an additional rift within distributed teams.
Content may be subject to copyright.
Original Article
Emergence of Differing Electronic
Communication Norms Within
Partially Distributed Teams
Arik Cheshin,
1
Yongsuk Kim,
2
D. Bos Nathan,
3
Nan Ning,
4
and Judith S. Olson
5
1
Department of Social Psychology, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands,
2
Department of
Information Systems, Business Statistics and Operations Management, Hong Kong University of
Science and Technology, Hong Kong, China,
3
Johns Hopkins University, Applied Physics Laboratory,
Baltimore, MD, USA,
4
Sauder School of Business, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC,
Canada,
5
Informatics Department, University of California, Irvine, CA, USA
Abstract. Modern organizations often consist of teams in which some people are collocated and some are remote. These teams are in-between
being entirely virtual to entirely face-to-face and are referred to as partially distributed teams. Partially distributed teams function and operate in
two different media environments, varying in availability of communication channels. These media environments may encourage different
communication patterns, widening a gap produced by distance. In two laboratory studies we demonstrate that different electronic
communication norms (ECNs) emerge among members of the same team based on their media environments. Most of the norms regarding use
of electronic communication persisted even when media environment was changed. This difference in ECNs might serve as an additional
faultline, causing an additional rift within distributed teams.
Keywords: partially distributed teams, virtual teams, communication norms, virtual work, faultlines, subgroups, electronic communication
norm
Organizations increasingly depend ondistributed teams (also
referred to as virtual teams) to accomplish core work tasks
(Bell & Kozlowski, 2002; Gibson & Gibbs, 2006; Hackman,
2011; Hinds & Kiesler, 2002). Although much research
focuses on either distributed or collocated teams, most orga-
nizations are creating hybrid Partially Distributed Teams
(PDTs). Cummings (2004) found that about 60% of Fortune
500 telecommunications companies are partially distributed.
PDTs, where some members are collocated and others are
remote (Burke, Aytes, Chidambaram, & Johnson, 1999),
are subdivided by physical distance (some remote and some
collocated), and may face challenges such as cultural barriers
(e.g., Gibson & Gibbs, 2006) and lack of awareness of each
others activities. But they also live in different media envi-
ronments where some are able to communicate through
Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC) and Face-to-
Face (FtF) while others can only communicate through
CMC. We argue that distinct norms might emerge based
on media environment differences. The development of
two dissimilar norms within one team might accentuate
and widen divisions between teammates who are already
physically divided. PDTs have not received sufficient
research attention (OLeary & Mortensen, 2010). This
paper sheds light on an important dynamic that can arise in
PDTs – the emergence of differing Electronic Communica-
tion Norms (ECNs).
To function well teams must communicate well, since
communication affects team cohesiveness and effectiveness
(e.g., Cramton, 2001; Snyder & Morris, 1984). Communi-
cation between teammates can be conducted in a variety
of ways, including meeting FtF, writing email, using instant
messaging, conducting video conferences, etc. Discrete
communication channels differentially influence group out-
comes depending on whether communication is coopera-
tive, competitive, or neutral (Swaab, Galinsky, Medvec,
& Diermeier, 2012). This paper specifically deals with
the possible consequences for PDTs to develop different
norms for the use of those communication channels.
Communication norms consist of the type of informa-
tion shared, the rate of interaction, and/or formality of mes-
sages communicated (Kiesler, Siegel, & McGuire, 1984;
Yates & Orlikowski, 2002). Norms can be implicit or expli-
cit (Kelly, 1955), can either be taught directly, or can
emerge while adapting to the habits of others. We specifi-
cally deal with ECNs, defined as distinct forms or styles of
interaction shared by teammates when they communicate
electronically. We argue that ECNs develop implicitly,
based on the media environments in which individuals
Ó2013 Hogrefe Publishing Journal of Personnel Psychology 2013; Vol. 12(1):7–21
DOI: 10.1027/1866-5888/a000076
http://econtent.hogrefe.com/doi/pdf/10.1027/1866-5888/a000076 - Sunday, October 18, 2015 1:49:24 AM - IP Address:220.85.99.82
reside. Our goal is to demonstrate that different ECNs
emerge in a single team because they are using different
electronic communication media. This in turn may have
consequences on trust, cooperation, subgroup divisions,
and, ultimately, on team performance.
Media Environments in Partially
Distributed Teams
The media environment of members in PDTs can differ
based on location. Remote locations may have other
communication channels available to them including
paper-mail, fax, phone, email, chat, video conference, etc.
Collocated team members have access to other media,
but also have FtF as an option, an option they will often
choose, which leads to the exclusion of others. While
remote members of PDTs work primarily in virtual envi-
ronments, collocated members may switch between FtF
and CMC environments. Thus, our main research question
is whether differences in media environments in PDTs will
result in the emergence of distinct and different ECNs.
Imagine receiving the following email:
Or
These two emails ask for the same action, yet one pro-
vides more information and is more personal and polite. In
teams, norms can emerge and influence which type of
email messages are most likely to be sent. Imagine a group
of workers who communicate using messages that are of
the same personal style as the second example above. If
someone were to communicate a message to this group
using a style similar to the first example, it would stand
out as being different, likely as ‘‘abrupt,’’ signaling anger.
It would have the potential of both surprising and offending
others because it violates the norm.
Despite the fact that email is considered to be an infor-
mal communication tool, norms of etiquette for writing
email differ across organizations, groups, and individuals
(Vignovic & Thompson, 2010). Violations of perceived
norms have been found to have a negative impact. Stephens,
Houser, and Cowan (2009) found that when studentsemails
were casually worded, instructors were less likely to comply
with studentsrequests. There is evidence from work on vir-
tual communities that adhering to norms can enhance cohe-
siveness (Blanchard, 2008). Yet, to the knowledge of the
authors, there has been no work investigating the different
communication norms that can emerge within PDTs.
Subdivision in PDTs
The geographic separation of members of PDTs can lead to
differences in collaboration patterns, and sometimes can
induce in-group/out-group patterns that are a drain on effi-
ciency and performance (e.g., Herbsleb, Mockus, Finholt,
& Grinter, 2000; Olson & Olson, 2001). One example is
the work by Bos and colleagues (Bos, Olson, Nan, &
Cheshin, 2009) that demonstrated this subdivision among
PDTs using a laboratory-based simulation, Shape Factory.
Resources were allocated differentially depending on
whether the people were collocated or remote. Those who
were collocated communicated almost exclusively with col-
located members whereas remotes communicated almost
exclusively with remotes. Membersbias toward interacting
with others in the same media condition persisted even in
conditions where it was to their economic disadvantage
(Bos et al., 2006). Later research showed that remotes had
a lower sense of affective identity compared to those collo-
cated, as well as a lower sense of group efficacy (Bos,
Buyuktur, Olson, Olson, & Voida, 2010).
Two likely causes for this bifurcation were communica-
tion cost and social preferences. Communication cost was
lower among those who were collocated (i.e., Fussell,
Kiesler, Setlock, & Scupelli, 2004). Those who were collo-
cated, whom we call ‘‘collocateds,’’ probably showed pref-
erence to other collocateds because of social presence
which created a feeling of obligation while also encourag-
ingtrust.Bothoftheseledtothedevelopmentofan
in-group. Surprisingly, an equally strong in-group bias
developed among remotes (Bos et al., 2009). This was
unexpected since remotes did not know who the other
remote players were. Yet, within a few rounds, driven by
the fact that collocateds ignored them, remotes found each
other and began preferential collaborations.
We would like to suggest that distinct in-groups might
form in part because of differences in the way communica-
tion channels are used in the media environments. Collo-
cated and remote members may have developed different
ECNs that made them prefer to work with those communi-
cating in a similar manner. The creation of two distinct
ECNs within the same team might have accentuated differ-
ences between individuals in the same team, widening the
already present physical divide of PDTs.
Norms and Media Environment
Norms are social regularities that are commonly held by
group members and define who belongs to the group
Dear Jim,
How are you? I hope all is well with you.
I hope that you received all the needed information
for the report. As mentioned before, I need the
report by 10:00 a.m. Looking forward to reading
it...
Best regards,
Michael
Jim,
I need the report on my desk by 10:00 a.m.
8 A. Cheshin et al.: Electronic Communication Norms
Journal of Personnel Psychology 2013; Vol. 12(1):7–21 Ó2013 Hogrefe Publishing
http://econtent.hogrefe.com/doi/pdf/10.1027/1866-5888/a000076 - Sunday, October 18, 2015 1:49:24 AM - IP Address:220.85.99.82
(Turner, 1991). They are noticed by group members and
imitated because of the desire to be a member of a group
(Elwood, Greene, & Carter, 2003). Implicit norms emerge
without specific guidelines or rules and are not openly sta-
ted (Kelly, 1955). ECNs, we argue, can be influenced by
media environments. Media environments might have rich,
responsive media channels (i.e., voice, instant messaging,
and video conferencing) or could have only lean, asynchro-
nous channels (i.e., letters, emails) (Daft & Lengel, 1986).
As will be elaborated below, we argue that different media
environments can lead to the emergence of distinct implicit
ECNs which further divide subgroups.
Computer-Mediated Communication
and Teamwork
Despite the fact that social cues are harder to convey when
communicating electronically over distance, teams that use
CMC develop relationships comparable to teams communi-
cating FtF (Sproull & Kiesler, 1986); although they might
take longer to develop (Walther, 1992, 1994). In some cases
CMC has been found to lead to more cohesive teams. The
anonymity and sense of de-individuation involved in some
forms of CMC may reduce ones sense of self, increase
group identification (Spears, Postmes, Lea, & Watt, 2001),
and increase the adherence to group norms (Postmes,
Spears, & Lea, 2000).
The presence of communication channels – specifically
visual contact – can either increase or diminish a groups
performance depending on whether one identifies with
the group. Identification can be stronger when one is invis-
ible. Spears, Lea, and Lee (1990) found that team members
with strong social identities displayed more polarization
when they had FtF contact than when they did not. Thus,
strong identification with a group can override the lack of
social cues offered by CMC, and at times might even help
teammates to accentuate what they have in common
(Mortensen & Hinds, 2001).
Theories on group collaboration, such as the Social
Identity Theory (Tajfel & Turner, 1986) or the Group
Engagement Model (Tyler & Blader, 2003), highlight the
importance of norms, but do not further explore the effects
of CMC and FtF on those norms. Cramton (2001) demon-
strated how norm violations in virtual settings led to more
negative personal attributions than situational attributions.
People blame otherspersonality flaws rather than excuse
them because ‘‘something came up.’’ These dynamics can
accelerate small rifts caused by other differences, such as
different locations and contrasting ECNs.
Why Would Different ECNs Develop?
Individuals differ in how much they say, and the extent
to which they cognitively elaborate on communicated
messages (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986). Elaboration, for
example, involves writing messages that reflect consider-
ation of the context in which the message is sent, such as
wishing the recipient well, acknowledging how busy he or
she might be, etc. Because these extra considerations require
effort, many individuals avoid doing so. The Elaboration
Likelihood Model (ELM) acknowledges the differences
between high and low elaboration. In one case (‘‘central’’),
the context of messages is carefully considered by recipients;
in the other case (‘‘peripheral’’), people use ‘‘quick and dirty’’
heuristics, or simple decision rules, to evaluate and respond
to messages. The choice is determined by ones motivation
and ability (Petty & Cacioppo, 1979; Petty, Wells, &
Brock, 1976).
The ELM model has important implications for PDTs.
Collocated team members have two media channels with
an abundance of information to deal with that may lead to
high cognitive load. A common response would be to pro-
cess some information lightly (peripheral) and other more
seriously (central). It is likely that collocateds will attend
to FtF messages with collocated peers more extensively,
and process CMC messages lightly. This ECN might persist
even when collocateds communicate with remotes. In con-
trast, remote team members will be fully focused on CMC
messages. They might be more able and willing to devote
processing resources to CMC because it is their only means
of communication. The leaner medium of CMC (Daft &
Lengel, 1986) could lead one to use more words, read more
messages, and provide more context when communicating.
There might also be differences in the content of messages
sent. Those who are collocated might discuss events experi-
enced together in their location in conversation, while those
who are remote might say more in text to try to build rapport
and compensate for the lack of nonverbal cues and shared
context. The possibility of distinct ECNs emerging in PDTs
creates a communication challenge, unseen in either wholly
collocated or virtual teams.
The Studies
In what follows, we describe results from two studies in
whichwecreatePDTsthatengageinasimulatedworkset-
ting, where individuals must work together to share
resources and accomplish related goals. In the first study,
we examine traces of communication to discover that ECNs
developed and are visible via the amount of message traffic
as well as message content. We then examine the traces in
the second study, looking for evidence that these are actually
norms versus merely situated, preference based, behaviors.
Study Settings
In both studies we set up PDTs where remotes have one
media environment (communicating through email) and
collocateds have an additional FtF channel for communica-
tion with those collocated. We measure the development of
ECNs by examining their use of email. We focus on the
number of messages sent, actual use of text, followed by
A. Cheshin et al.: Electronic Communication Norms 9
Ó2013 Hogrefe Publishing Journal of Personnel Psychology 2013; Vol. 12(1):7–21
http://econtent.hogrefe.com/doi/pdf/10.1027/1866-5888/a000076 - Sunday, October 18, 2015 1:49:24 AM - IP Address:220.85.99.82
the frequency of reading of CMC, and finally on the topics
and other information communicated in the text messages.
Based on the above we predict the following:
Hypothesis 1: Remotes and collocateds will develop
different electronic communication norms.
Compared to collocated members:
Hypothesis 1a: Remotes will send more messages.
Hypothesis 1b: Remotes will read more text
messages sent to them.
Hypothesis 1c: Remotes will send longer text
messages.
Hypothesis 1d: Remotes will convey different content
in text messages.
Study I
Method
Our participants engaged in a serious game called Shape
Factory which has been used previously to study in-
group/out-group formation and communication patterns
(e.g., Bos et al., 2009; Cheshin, Rafaeli, & Bos, 2011). This
experimental task recreates a number of features of modern
knowledge work: flexible collaboration with some choice of
collaborators, multiple project demands occurring in paral-
lel, scarce resources, and time pressures. Imagine a pro-
gramming team, where each member is an expert in one
area, for example, graphic design, layout, debugging, etc.
Each team member can perform all tasks, but it would be
more efficient for each member to work on his or her area
of expertise. Yet, as is the case in most work settings, there
are not enough resources to assist everyone, and at times
individuals need to work on tasks that are not in their area
of expertise. Furthermore, because there are several people
with the same expertise, it is efficient to establish a trusting
relationship with at least one, so that future requests for help
are responded to. Shape Factory simulates such a situation.
Procedure
In each of our 13 groups, ten participants were randomly
assigned a color, shape, and location. Five participants were
assigned to be in one room (‘‘collocateds’’) while five oth-
ers were put into separate rooms (‘‘remotes’’) – creating a
PDT. Each participant was associated with a colored shape
such as ‘‘blue square’’ representing an identity (blue) and a
specialty (square). There were a total of five shapes (square,
circle, diamond, X, and triangle) with the two specialty pro-
ducers of each being distinguished by their color (e.g., red
square and blue square). All shapes were represented in the
room and all shapes were remote (see Figure 1).
Each session consisted of five rounds, each lasting
15 min except for the first round. The first round was
20 min long to provide participants time to adapt to the
simulation. Participants were informed of the length of each
round. Before the experiment, participants reviewed the
task instructions and were quizzed to verify understanding
of the rules.
During each round participants were tasked with putting
together different orders consisting of different length
strings of various shapes, each participant with a different
set. Participants earned payoffs by completing orders, with
longer orders having increasingly higher payoffs. A partic-
ipant could produce his or her own specialty shape cheaply;
other shapes cost more to produce. There was no payoff
advantage in making all the needed shapes by oneself. It
was more cost effective to buy the parts from those who
could make them more cheaply. Participants benefitted by
working together, requesting to buy (and sell) shapes from
(to) the other shape producers.
In each round there were more shapes needed for the
orders than could be made by the players on the team, cre-
ating scarcity. This setting created a mixture of competition
(over resources) and cooperation (exchanging parts) to
achieve everyones needs. Using the Bell and Kozlowski
(2002) categorization scheme, the task can be considered
intensive because it involves a complex workflow.
Subjects played the web-based game on identical
laptops. In the game, all transactions (requests and deliver-
ies) had to go through the computerized messaging system;
all essential transactions could be done by selecting items
from menus or numerical entries (see Figure 2). There
was a box for optional additional text, and it was possible
to send messages that were nothing but open text. Messages
arrived in participantsinboxes with an informative subject
line, allowing participants to quickly process incoming
messages (see Figure 3). It was possible to complete tasks
without ever reading or writing optional messages.
Collocateds could communicate FtF or exchange text
messages through the emailing system, whereas remotes
could only interact via text messages. This created two dif-
ferent media environments for different subsets of the same
team. For example, while an official request and delivery of
a shape had to go through the electronic system, collocateds
often negotiated deals orally with each other in the room, a
communication option not available to the remotes.
Figure 1. Configuration of collocated and remote
participants.
10 A. Cheshin et al.: Electronic Communication Norms
Journal of Personnel Psychology 2013; Vol. 12(1):7–21 Ó2013 Hogrefe Publishing
http://econtent.hogrefe.com/doi/pdf/10.1027/1866-5888/a000076 - Sunday, October 18, 2015 1:49:24 AM - IP Address:220.85.99.82
Subjects
One hundred thirty participants in groups of ten were
recruited via advertisements and an email list (52%
females, mean age = 22.31, 97% students). Over 99% of
the participants had used computers and the Internet for
more than 3 years and used email regularly. They received
$15 as base payment plus a bonus of up to $10 based on
their performance in the game.
Data Analysis
To investigate Hypotheses 1a, 1b, and 1c, we estimated a lon-
gitudinal and multilevel model using a mixed effect model in
SPSS. A mixed model takes into account the multilevel
structure of our data with multiple observations (sender-
receiver communication) within each communication
condition in each group. Group membership and dyadic-
communication IDs (e.g., Exp40.pink-blue) were included
in the model as random effects, accounting for the likely vio-
lation of homogeneity of variance and controlling for unob-
served heterogeneity. Z-scores were calculated for the three
dependent variables: The number of messages sent (H1a),
the ratio of messages viewed out of all messages received
(H1b), and the number of words in the messages sent (H1c).
To test H1d, we examined the content of text messages,
the topics covered, and the information included. The text
messages were evaluated and coded into different catego-
ries based on their content. Table 1 shows the entire set
of 39 categories in the coding scheme, which was then col-
lapsed into a 12-category scheme. Raters reached a suffi-
cient interrater agreement (CohensK= .85).
Results
In sum, there were a total of 13,257 messages exchanged
across 13 sessions; 5,096 of the messages contained text.
Using Bonferronis pairwise comparisons, we compared
the sending, opening, and writing of text messages and con-
tent of messages across four sender-receiver communica-
tion conditions (remote !remote, remote !collocated,
collocated !remote, and collocated !collocated).
Number of Messages Sent
A significant difference was found in the number of mes-
sages sent. Remotes sent more messages than collocateds
irrespective of recipient, F(1, 4491) = 10.63, p<.01; see
Table 2, supporting H1a.
Opening/Reading Text Messages
A significant difference was found regarding the opening of
text messages to enable reading them. Remotes opened sig-
nificantly more messages than collocateds, F(1, 4519) =
57.89, p< .001; see Table 2, supporting H1b.
Writing Longer Messages
A significant difference was found in the length of mes-
sages exchanged between remotes and collocateds.
Remotes wrote significantly longer messages than collocat-
eds, F(1, 4502) = 53.00, p< .001; see Table 2, supporting
H1c.
Content of Communication
Tables 3 and 4 report the results of our content analysis of
text messages based on the 12-item coding category
scheme (Table 1). On 10 different categories, we found
Figure 2. Shape factory message – an example of a
request form. Notes. In a request form, a requester needs
to specify the request receiver, asking price, and the
quantity of items. Writing a text message is optional.
Figure 3. Shape factory inbox. Notes. The inbox provides
the summarized history of transactions. One can view the
detail of a transaction by clicking on the hyperlink.
A. Cheshin et al.: Electronic Communication Norms 11
Ó2013 Hogrefe Publishing Journal of Personnel Psychology 2013; Vol. 12(1):7–21
http://econtent.hogrefe.com/doi/pdf/10.1027/1866-5888/a000076 - Sunday, October 18, 2015 1:49:24 AM - IP Address:220.85.99.82
significant differences between remotes and collocateds.
Remotes used more positive expressions, F(1, 5094) =
74.4, p< .01, had more redundancy in their messages,
F(1, 5094) = 39.9, p< .01, included more identity infor-
mation, F(1, 5094) = 7.5, p< .01, provided more reason-
ing for their actions, F(1, 5094) = 22.5, p< .01, checked
on transactions more often, F(1, 5094) = 31.3, p<.01,
wrote more about reciprocity, F(1, 5094) = 7.7, p<.01,
conveyed urgency more often, F(1, 5094) = 13.9,
p< .01, yet were less proactive in offering their shapes to
others who were not collocateds, F(1, 5094) = 2.1,
p< .01, supporting H1d.
Overall, results indicate that two distinct ECNs emerged
in PTDs. Remotes wrote more (H1a), opened more
messages (H1b), used more words (H1c), and communi-
cated different information in their text messages (H1d).
This demonstrates how a messaging system for a team
was used differently by members based on the media envi-
ronment, leading to differing ECN, supporting H1.
Discussion
Overallwe found stark differences between remotes and col-
locateds, supporting the emergence of different implicit
ECNs in PDTs. Remotes sent, opened (and presumably
read), and wrote longer CMC messages. Content of messages
differed in aspects of positivity, redundancy, and disclosure
as well as other aspects which indicates that the use of the
messaging system was different between media environ-
ments. However,one might argue that what we have demon-
strated is not a norm difference but rather differences in
behaviors shapedby ease of communication or in-group pref-
erence. Norms are not simply differences in behavior; they
are persistent ways of interaction that members adhere to
and expect others to do so as well (Kelly, 1955). We posit that
if group members were to keep their CMC patterns when
they were moved to a different media environment, it would
be an indication that the differences we observed are indeed
norms, and not merely preferences or a result of ease in the
current situation. To investigate this we conducted a second
study, where some participants, after completing more than
half of the task in a specific media environment, were moved
to a different media environment. If indeed we are depicting
the emergence of norms, these norms should be maintained
even when media environment changes.
Table 1. Complete coding scheme
Collapsed category Specific code
Positive Politeness
Positive Help/answering questions/
providing info
Positive Friendly chat about the game
Positive Humor
Positive Positive nickname
Positive Friendly chat about nongame
issues
Positive Tips
Positive Mentioning strategy
Positive Ingratiating
Oral redundancy/verbal Verbally requesting a part
Oral redundancy/verbal Asking for opinion on buying offer
Oral redundancy/verbal Verbally accept a deal
Oral redundancy/verbal Verbally declining
Identity disclosure Mentioning other participants
shape or color
Identity disclosure Mentioning their own shape or
color
Negotiation type Negotiation price
Negotiation type Negotiation amount
Negotiation type Only if you do then I will
Negotiation type Begging
Negotiation type Negotiation mentioning of others
Negotiation type Third-party involvement
Reason Reason behind action
Checking on transaction Checking on transaction
Disclosure Asking for info
Disclosure Mentioning of condition
Disclosure Asking for production cost/score
info
Reciprocity History of transaction
Reciprocity Future transaction next round
Reciprocity Future transaction this round
Proactive Offering your parts to others
Negative Lying
Negative Rude
Negative Voicing frustration
Negative Sarcastic
Negative Trash talking about others
Negative Threat
Time related Creating urgency
Other Other
Table 2. Number of messages sent, number of messeges opened, and length of messages (z-scored)
Collocated–collocated Collocated–remote Remote–collocated Remote–remote Fvalue
Number of messages
sent (from ... to)
.133
a
.120
ab
.010
b
.223
c
F(3, 4483) = 32.92***
Opening/reading text
messages (by ... from)
.089
a
.109
b
.143
a
.110
b
F(3, 4516) = 19.88***
Word count of a message
(from ... to)
.205
a
.017
b
.051
bc
.115
c
F(3, 4460) = 31.52***
Notes. All three measures are z-scored. From (the first member of the pair) to (the second member); by (the first member of the pair)
from (the second member). Different superscript letters indicate significant differences between conditions at p< .05. ***p< .001.
12 A. Cheshin et al.: Electronic Communication Norms
Journal of Personnel Psychology 2013; Vol. 12(1):7–21 Ó2013 Hogrefe Publishing
http://econtent.hogrefe.com/doi/pdf/10.1027/1866-5888/a000076 - Sunday, October 18, 2015 1:49:24 AM - IP Address:220.85.99.82
Study II
Study II had the same setting as Study I, yet after the third
round, two participants from the collocated room switched
places with two remotes for the remaining two rounds. The
same shapes were switched (i.e., blue-square with orange-
square) to keep the availability of resources identical across
media environments. Participants were not informed of this
change beforehand. If participants had not developed a
norm, and were simply responding to task constraints, we
would expect a very rapid or immediate change in commu-
nication patterns after switching. If they had to some extent
internalized the ECNs, we would expect to see some persis-
tence of their old habits and some delay in adapting to the
new environment. Thus:
Hypothesis 2: After changing their media environ-
ment part way through an experiment, traveling par-
ticipants will retain the ECNs that emerged in their
original media environment.
Table 3. Message code categories, examples, and frequencies by media environment (Study I)
Message type Example Col Remote Significance
Positive message ‘‘Thanks for the deal!’’ 9% 19% F(1, 5094) = 74.4**
Oral redundancy with subject line ‘‘Pls send me two circles.’’ 11% 17% F(1, 5094) = 39.9**
Identity formation/disclosure ‘‘Hey purple circle, what do you
think’’
11% 13% F(1, 5094) = 7.5**
Negotiation of price or amount ‘‘Not less than 19 sorry’’ 6% 7% Not significant
Reason behind action ‘‘Please sell me this since I am
asking for a large quantity from
you’’
4% 7% F(1, 5094) = 22.5**
Check transaction ‘‘Pls keep ur promise =)’’ 4% 6% F(1, 5094) = 8.6**
Disclosure or asking for disclosure ‘‘How much is your diamond?’’ 2% 5% F(1, 5094) = 31.3**
Reciprocity ‘‘Lets get on good terms again’’ 2% 3% F(1, 5094) = 7.7**
Proactive ‘‘selling xs for 20’’ 3% 2% F(1, 5094) = 2.1**
Negative/frustration ‘‘If you cant make my squares can
you please tell me at least’’
1% 2% Not significant
Time/urgency ‘‘Let me know as soon as you
can!’’
<1% 1% F(1, 5094) = 13.9**
Other <1% 2% F(1, 5094) = 23**
Notes. Columns do not sum to 100% because a message can be given no code or more than one code. **p< .01.
Table 4. Message code categories, examples, and frequencies. By sender and receiver (Study I)
Message type Example Remt–Remt Remt–Col Col–Remt Col–Col Significance
Positive message ‘‘Thanks for the deal!’’ 19%
a
18%
a
13%
b
5%
c
F(3, 5092) = 33.36
**
Oral redundancy
with subject line
‘‘Pls send me two circles.’’ 17%
a
17%
a
10%
b
11%
b
F(3, 5092) = 13.36
**
Identity formation/
disclosure
‘‘Hey purple circle, what do
you think’’
13% 14% 11% 10% F(3, 5092) = 2.54
Negotiation of
price or amount
‘‘Not less than 19 sorry.’’ 8% 6% 7% 5% F(3, 5092) = 2.10
Reason behind action ‘‘Please sell me this since I am
asking for a large quantity from you.’’
7%
a
7%
a
5%
a
2%
b
F(3, 5092) = 10.77
**
Check transaction ‘‘Pls keep ur promise =)’’ 6%
a
6%
a
5%
a,b
3%
b
F(3, 5092) = 4.90
*
Disclosure or asking
for disclosure
‘‘How much is your diamond?’’ 5%
a
6%
a
3%
b
2%
b
F(3, 5092) = 11.84
**
Reciprocity ‘‘Lets get on good terms again.’’ 4%
a
2%
b
2%
b
1%
b
F(3, 5092) = 9.04
**
Proactive ‘‘Selling xs for 20’’ 2% 2% 3% 3% Not significant
Negative/frustration ‘‘If you cant make my squares
can you please tell me at least!’’
2% 2% 2% 1% Not significant
Time/urgency ‘‘Let me know as soon as you can!’’ 1%
a
1%
a
<1%
a,b
<1%
b
F(3, 5092) = 4.68
**
Other 2%
a
1%
a
<1%
b
<1%
b
F(3, 5092) = 8.21
**
Notes. Columns do not sum to 100% because a message can be given no code or more than one code. Different superscript letters
indicate significant differences between conditions at p< .05.
p< .10. *p< .05. **p< .01.
A. Cheshin et al.: Electronic Communication Norms 13
Ó2013 Hogrefe Publishing Journal of Personnel Psychology 2013; Vol. 12(1):7–21
http://econtent.hogrefe.com/doi/pdf/10.1027/1866-5888/a000076 - Sunday, October 18, 2015 1:49:24 AM - IP Address:220.85.99.82
Compared to the people who remained in their locations:
Hypothesis 2a: Traveling participants will keep the
ECNs developed in their original location regarding
sending messages.
Hypothesis 2b: Traveling participants will keep the
ECNs developed in their original location regarding
reading messages sent to them.
Hypothesis 2c: Traveling participants will keep the
ECNs developed in their original location regarding
the length of text messages.
Hypothesis 2d: Traveling participants will keep the
ECNs developed in their original location regarding
the content of their text messages.
Method
Study II had an identical procedure to Study I, with the
addition of the switching of four participants after the third
(of five) rounds.
Subjects
Thirteen groups of ten participants were recruited using the
same means as in Study I (50% females, mean age = 22.97,
95% students).
Results
Number of Messages Sent
Pre-Intervention
Consistent with Study I, we found significant differences
between remotes and collocateds in the number of
messages sent before the switch, F(3, 2677) = 14.5,
p< .001; see Table 5. Moreover, remotes wrote more mes-
sages than did collocateds, regardless of receiver,
F(1, 2680) = 43.3, p<.001.
Post-Intervention
We conducted pairwise comparisons of those who were
switched and those who were not, taking into account the
recipient. The number of messages sent by traveling
remotes, who moved into the room and became collocateds,
was compared to that sent by permanent remotes. As shown
in the top comparisons in Table 6, traveling remotes (now
collocated) did not differ statistically from remotes who did
not travel in Round 4; yet at Round 5 the difference became
significant. The number of messages sent by traveling col-
locateds (now remotes) was compared to that sent by
permanent collocateds in Rounds 4 and 5 (bottom compar-
isons in Table 6). Traveling collocateds did not differ statis-
tically from collocated who did not travel, in this aspect,
after the switch (Round 4). Concerning the writing of
Table 5. Number of messages sent, number opened, and length of messages (z-scored)
Rnd Pairwise comparisons Col–Col Col–Remt Remt–Col Remt–Remt Significance
1–3 Number of Messages Sent (from ... to) .193
a
.185
a
.043
b
.058
b
F(3, 2677) = 14.45***
Intervention
4–5 Number of Messages Sent (from ... to) .088
a
.174
a
.290
b
.293
b
F(3, 1706) = 9.74***
1–3 Opening/reading Text messages (by ... from) .002
a
.172
b
.079
a
.126
b
F(3, 7218) = 24.58**
Intervention
4–5 Opening/Reading Text Messages (by...from) .113
a
.229
b
.000
a
.018
b
F(3, 2645) = 2.54*
1–3 Word Count of a Message (from...to) .328
a
.010
b
.073
b,c
.203
c
F(3, 2647) = 40.11***
Intervention
4–5 Word Count of a Message (from...to) .412
a
.118
b,c
.085
b
.363
c
F(3, 1689) = 13.60***
Notes. All three measures are z-scored. After the intervention (R4-5), remote sender refers to only non-traveling (permanent) remotes
and collocated sender refers to only non-traveling (permanent) collocateds. On comparison, remote receiver includes both permanent
remotes and traveling collocateds (who newly became remotes) and collocated receiver refers to both non-traveling (permanent)
collocateds and traveling remotes (who newly became collocateds). Different superscript letters indicate significant differences
between conditions at p< .05. *p< .05, **p< .01, ***p< .001.
14 A. Cheshin et al.: Electronic Communication Norms
Journal of Personnel Psychology 2013; Vol. 12(1):7–21 Ó2013 Hogrefe Publishing
http://econtent.hogrefe.com/doi/pdf/10.1027/1866-5888/a000076 - Sunday, October 18, 2015 1:49:24 AM - IP Address:220.85.99.82
messages to other collocateds, no adjustment was made and
no significant difference was found even in Round 5 (which
was not the case for the other comparisons). Figure 4 offers
a visual representation of the change by rounds. Taken
together, these findings indicate stickiness of ECNs after
the intervention, supporting H2a.
Opening/Reading Text Messages
Pre-Intervention
Consistent with Study I, we found significant differences
between remotes and collocateds in opening messages in
pre-intervention, F(3, 7218) = 24.58, p< .001; see Table 5.
Remotes opened messages more frequently than did
collocateds, regardless of sender, F(1, 7220) = 66.3,
p<.001.
Post-Intervention
Traveling remotes were compared to permanent remotes
concerning the number of messages opened/read. As shown
in the top comparison in Table 6, no significant differences
were found between traveling remotes and permanent
remotes in both rounds, though it was apparent that travel-
ers had viewed messages less and less frequently over time.
Similarly, traveling collocateds were compared to perma-
nent collocateds concerning the number of messages
opened/read (see the last comparison in Table 6). Although
traveling collocateds opened messages more often after the
Table 6. Bonferroni pairwise comparisons between traveling and non-traveling groups after the traveling intervention
(Study II)
Pairwise comparisons Round
Perm remote !remote
(mean | std dv) Mean diff.
Traveling remote !remote
(mean | std dv)
Number of messages sent (from ... to) 4 (.162 | .082) = (.091 | .107)
5 (.466 | .095) > (.089 | .127)
Opening/reading text messages (by ... from) 4 (.105 | .97) = (.095 | 1.02)
5 (.018 | 1.00) = (.120 | 1.02)
Word count of a message (from ... to) 4 (.460 | .087) = (.075 | .115)
5 (.281 | .083) = (.072 | .112)
Perm remote !col Mean diff. Traveling remote !col
Number of messages sent 4 (.343 | .084) = (.064 | .104)
5 (.217 | .099) > (.278 | .120)
Opening/reading text messages 4 (.028 | .99) = (.043 | 1.01)
5 (.000 | 1.00) = (.101 | 1.02)
Word count of a message 4 (.053 | .091) > (.461 | .110)
5 (.101 | .087) > (.540 | .105)
Perm col !col Mean diff. Traveling col !col
Number of messages sent 4 (.125 | .082) = (.269 | .099)
5(.034 | .098) = (.326 | .119)
Opening/reading text messages 4 (.140 | 1.02) = (.032 | 1.01)
5(.113 | 1.02) = (.108 | 1.02)
Word count of a message 4 (.384 | .087) << (.115 | .107)
5(.432 | .085) < (.043 | .105)
Perm col !remote Mean diff. Traveling col !remote
Number of messages sent 4 (.204 | .089) = (.139 | .100)
5(.123 | .109) < (.448 | .116)
Opening/reading text messages 4 (.288 | 1.02) = (.064 | 1.01)
5(.229 | 1.03) = (.059 | 1.01)
Word count of a message 4 (.095 | .096) = (.179 | .108)
5 (.148 | .096) = (.262 | .102)
Notes. All three measures are z-scored. Remote refers to both non-traveling (permanent) remotes and traveling collocateds (who
newly became remotes) and collocated refers to both non-traveling (permanent) collocateds and traveling remotes (who newly
became collocateds). The sign and significance of the mean difference between the two communication pairs (left and right) on each
of the three measures are denoted as the following: = (nonsignificant.), > (p< .05), and << (p< .01). Arrows represent the sender and
receiver relationship.
A. Cheshin et al.: Electronic Communication Norms 15
Ó2013 Hogrefe Publishing Journal of Personnel Psychology 2013; Vol. 12(1):7–21
http://econtent.hogrefe.com/doi/pdf/10.1027/1866-5888/a000076 - Sunday, October 18, 2015 1:49:24 AM - IP Address:220.85.99.82
switch, the difference between traveling and permanent
collocateds was not significant (see Figure 5 for a visual
representation of change over rounds). Thus, H2b is
supported.
Writing Longer Messages
Pre-Intervention
Consistent with Study I, we found significant differences
between remotes and collocateds in length of messages sent
pre-intervention, F(3, 2647) = 40.11, p< .001, see Table 5.
The overall difference between remotes and collocateds in
writing texts, irrespective of receiver, was significant,
F(1, 2660) = 13.9, p<.001.
Post-Intervention
Traveling remotes were compared to permanent remotes in
terms of the length of messages. As shown in the first four
comparisons of Table 6, no significant differences were
found between travelers and permanent members in both
Figure 4. Number of messages sent by condition. Notes. Each point represents the adjusted z-score of the mean in a
given round. Permanent Remote (indicated by the line with the diamond) refers to the remote participants who did not
travel. Traveling Remote (indicated by the line with the square) refers to the participants who started the experiment as
remotes but became collocateds after the traveling intervention. Permanent Collocated (indicated by the line with the
traingle) refers to the collocated participants who did not travel. Traveling Collocated (indicated by the line with the X)
refers to the participants who started the experiment as collocateds and became remotes after the traveling intervention.
Figure 5. Opening/reading text messages of messages viewed by condition. Notes. Each point represents the adjusted z-
score of the mean in a given round. Permanent Remote (indicated by the line with the diamond) refers to the remote
participants who did not travel. Traveling Remote (indicated by the line with the square) refers to the participants who
started the experiment as remotes but became collocateds after the traveling intervention. Permanent Collocated
(indicated by the line with the traingle) refers to the collocated participants who did not travel. Traveling Collocated
(indicated by the line with the X) refers to the participants who started the experiment as collocateds and became
remotes after the traveling intervention.
16 A. Cheshin et al.: Electronic Communication Norms
Journal of Personnel Psychology 2013; Vol. 12(1):7–21 Ó2013 Hogrefe Publishing
http://econtent.hogrefe.com/doi/pdf/10.1027/1866-5888/a000076 - Sunday, October 18, 2015 1:49:24 AM - IP Address:220.85.99.82
conditions in both rounds when writing to other remotes.
Furthermore, the word counts of messages written by
travelers were compared to those written by permanent
members when messages were sent to the collocated room
in Rounds 4 and 5 (see the last comparison in Table 6).
Travelers were found to exhibit significantly different
ECNs than permanent members immediately after the inter-
vention. Traveling collocateds (now remote) wrote signifi-
cantly longer messages while traveling remotes (now
collocated) wrote significantly shorter ones to other collo-
cateds than did their remote peers who stayed in their loca-
tions (see Figure 6 for a visual representation of change
over rounds). Taken together, H2c is partially supported.
Content of Communication
Contrary to the other behaviors, no evidence was found for
differences in content of messages after moving to a new
media environment. As can be seen in Table 7 differences
were found between the conditions in the content of the
messages after the intervention; yet these differences were
not consistent with our hypothesis, thus H2d is not
supported.
All in all, the results provide some evidence that travel-
ing members did not immediately change their electronic
communication tendencies after the switch but rather car-
ried over some of their previous ECNs and retained them
for a while. Thus, the results from Study II provide some
support for H2 and our ECNs arguments.
Discussion
Study II offers confirmation that some aspects of electronic
communication tendencies persisted even after individuals
were moved to different media environments, providing
evidence that a norm for electronic communication had
Figure 6. Word count of a message written by condition. Notes. Each point represents the adjusted z-score of the mean
in a given round. Permanent Remote (indicated by the line with the diamond) refers to the remote participants who did
not travel. Traveling Remote (indicated by the line with the square) refers to the participants who started the experiment
as remotes but became collocateds after the traveling intervention. Permanent Collocated (indicated by the line with the
traingle) refers to the collocated participants who did not travel. Traveling Collocated (indicated by the line with the X)
refers to the participants who started the experiment as collocateds and became remotes after the traveling intervention.
Table 7. Message code categories, examples, and frequencies by sender after travel (Rounds 4)
Message type Perm remote Travel remote Perm col Travel col Significance
Positive message 18% 17% 15% 20% No difference
Oral redundancy with subject line 21%
a
12%
b
20%
a
12%
b
F(3, 1993) = 8.75
**
Identity formation/disclosure 15%
a
6%
b
12%
a
10%
a,b
F(3, 1993) = 6.32
**
Negotiation of price or amount 11%
a,b
6%
b
7%
a,b
12%
a
F(3, 1993) = 3.53
**
Reason behind action 6% 7% 5% 4% No difference
Check transaction 5% 5% 4% 7% No difference
Disclosure or asking for disclosure 7%
a,b
3%
b
4%
a,b
8%
a
F(3, 1993) = 3.71
**
Reciprocity 6% 3% 4% 5% F(3, 1993) = 2.17
Proactive 2% 1% 2% 1% F(3, 1993) = 2.59
Negative/frustration 2% 1% 1% 2% No difference
Time/urgency <1%
a
2%
b
<1%
a
<1%
a
F(3, 1993) = 3.63
*
Other 2% 0% 0% 0% F(3, 1993) = 7.61
**
Notes. Columns do not sum to 100% because a message can be given no code or more than one code. Different superscript letters
indicate significant differences between conditions at p< .05.
p< .10. *p< .05. **p< .01.
A. Cheshin et al.: Electronic Communication Norms 17
Ó2013 Hogrefe Publishing Journal of Personnel Psychology 2013; Vol. 12(1):7–21
http://econtent.hogrefe.com/doi/pdf/10.1027/1866-5888/a000076 - Sunday, October 18, 2015 1:49:24 AM - IP Address:220.85.99.82
been established. We demonstrate this across three different
behaviors: sending, opening, and writing longer messages,
as will be elaborated below. These behaviors differed in
their stickiness, some persisting until the end of the interac-
tions – while others eventually changed to the new norms.
Thus, it is clear that those who traveled and changed their
media environment did not use their electronic channel the
way nave participants did when they started the experi-
ment, and that the emergent norm of communication was
sustained, at least for a while.
Participants who started remote and moved to a collo-
cated environment kept their norms of writing more mes-
sages at first, but eventually changed their behavior to the
local norm. The norm of opening optional text messages
was kept regardless of the media environment change. The
remotes who opened more messages kept on doing so even
after they became collocateds. Collocateds retained their
norms of not opening many optional text messages even after
becoming remote. This norm was retained throughout the
experiment. Remotes continued writing more text in mes-
sages even after moving to a room where they had the FtF
channelavailable to them. Those whostarted the experiment
as collocateds continued writing fewer text messages even
when they lost the FtF channel and were now reliant solely
on the CMC channel. Intriguingly, the norm of writing more
text messages did not persist forever. After one round in the
new media environment, both traveling remotes and colloac-
tors adjusted to local norms, respectively.
As for the actual content communicated in the optional
text messages, no evidence was found for retention of
norms. The content did differ between conditions but not
in a consistent manner, nor with accordance to the pattern
of other norms. We believe that switching of some mem-
bers was an event that influenced and changed the group,
beyond the media environment change. For example, the
emotions of members probably altered due to the change.
The switch introduced more noise and interfered with the
norms concerning what to communicate, and as such,
norms regarding content of communication did not persist.
Based on our findings in Study II we believe that the
differences in behaviors that were found between the media
environments are indeed emergent norms. Some norms
were stronger than others (e.g., opening messages as
opposed to writing messages) and were ‘‘stickier.’’
General Discussion
A single team with two differing media environments can
develop two distinct ECNs. We believe that these differing
norms emerge unintentionally, as members in each media
environment adopt the most convenient communication
channel available. Drawing from the ELM (Petty &
Cacioppo, 1986), we find a theoretical rationale for the for-
mation of these two norms. Remotes are exposed to one
media environment and are likely to maintain their ECNs
in all communication. This is evident from the fact that
remotes used more words when sending messages, regard-
less of the location of the recipients. Similar to members of
virtual teams, mindful of CMC constraints to team coordina-
tion and socialization, remotes in PDTs are likely to make
more deliberate efforts to convey contextual information in
addition to core messages as evident in the content of
messages sent.
From the ELM perspective, remotes take the central
route when receiving and sending messages, whereas collo-
cateds must decide which elaboration route to take because
they are constantly exposed to two media environments,
FtF and CMC. The duality of media environments creates
higher cognitive load and presents cognitive and motiva-
tional challenges to collocatedsability and willingness to
read and write text messages (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986).
This explains the emergence of these different norms,
yet the interesting aspect is that these norms were main-
tained even after the media environment that caused them
to emerge was changed. The participants that switched
media environments kept most of their electronic communi-
cation patterns, at least when they first arrived to their new
location (Round 4) and did not behave in the same manner
as those who had started the simulation in that location.
Despite the conflict between the different media channels
and the elaboration hardships (or ease), travelers kept their
tendencies (at least in the beginning) of communication.
Is It Really a Norm?
Study II strengthens our argument that we are indeed dealing
with norms that persist (to some extent) when individuals are
moved to a different media environment. The ECNs are
changeable but sticky. If we were only dealing with the ease
of communication actions and not with norms we would have
expected travelers to immediately act in the same manner as
those who had been working permanently in their new loca-
tion. This was not the case. Travelers (who left a media envi-
ronment toward the middle of the task) tendedto retain most
of the ECNs they had developed earlier; they took their ECNs
with them. There was no immediate difference in rates of
opening text messages (which tended to be lower for collo-
cated and formerly collocated members) and there was a
delayed change in rates of sending messages and the length
of text in those messages (collocated and formerly collocated
members tended to write less).
Subdivision in Partially Distributed Teams
In the current study we did not measure differences in iden-
tity and trust between members of PDTs directly. Evidence
for these team subdivisions is present in the work of Bos
et al. (2009, 2010) using the same experimental simulation.
A location-based bias toward trading of shapes was found,
where collocateds traded mostly with collocateds and
remotes with remotes.
Other research has demonstrated that differences in
expectations across locations in virtual teams might lead
to conflicts and reduced motivation (Bosch-Sijtsema,
2007; Hinds & Bailey, 2003). One can imagine that remotes
18 A. Cheshin et al.: Electronic Communication Norms
Journal of Personnel Psychology 2013; Vol. 12(1):7–21 Ó2013 Hogrefe Publishing
http://econtent.hogrefe.com/doi/pdf/10.1027/1866-5888/a000076 - Sunday, October 18, 2015 1:49:24 AM - IP Address:220.85.99.82
might find the lack of text messages from the collocateds
off-putting, exacerbating the rift of distance. Moreover,
CMC has been found to highlight group norms and enhance
sensitivity to them more than to FtF interactions, making
norm violations more salient in CMC (Lea & Spears,
1992). Thus, when expectations regarding communication
are broken by some teammates, it might lead to conflict
and reduced motivation to cooperate, heading to the kind
of subdivision found in the work of Bos et al. (2009).
We suggest that in PDTs different ‘‘dialects’’ and norms
for using CMC make it harder for team members to com-
municate with one another. These different norms of com-
munication, or communication styles might also be seen as
work-style dissimilarity. Williams, Parker, and Turner
(2007) found that when there is greater perceived work-
style dissimilarity, team members are less likely to have
positive attributions and feel less empathetic toward
coworkers, which in turn leads to subdivisions.
Electronic Communication Norm as
a Faultline
Partially distributed teams might rift further apart because
the creation of different ECNs acts as an additional faultline.
Faultlines are differences that appear within teams and
increase chances of conflict and group subdivisions (Lau
& Murnighan, 1998). Faultlines have been found to hinder
essential team processes such as elaboration on task-relevant
information (Homan, van Knippenberg, Van Kleef, & De
Dreu, 2007) and outcomes such as quality of decision and
social integration (Rico, Molleman, Snchez-Manzanares,
& Van der Vegt, 2007). Originally defined as consisting
of visible demographic differences (especially when diver-
sity is moderate and not extreme), other work has extended
the concept of faultlines, noting three additional sources of
diversity – (1) informational, (2) social, and (3) value
(Cramton & Hinds, 2005). Polzer, Crisp, Jarvenpaa, and
Kim (2006) specifically tested geographically dispersed
teams, suggesting that there are ‘‘location-based faultlines’’
(p. 680). Location-based faultlines are related to the notion
of the physical presence of others. Members in the same
location are likely to share experiences above and beyond
the task they complete, fostering greater familiarity and
forming deeper relationships than those who are remote, a
situation that is likely to accentuate faultlines. We extend
and build on this argument, suggesting the creation of a
new faultline which is based on ECNs differences.
Different than the location-based faultline, the ECNs
faultline is caused by the different styles, or dialects, mem-
bers use to communicate electronically. They are not
caused by the location differences, but by the media envi-
ronment differences. Teams that are situated in the same
location, but include members who have access to different
communication tools can develop these differences in
norms. For example, if some members in the same office
building use instant messenger and others do not, difference
in ECNs might emerge.
Lau and Murnighan (1998) argued that team members
who share one or more attributes with other teammates tend
to align themselves on the basis of the attribute(s), leading
to salient subgroups, which may become a basis for
subgroup categorizations, ‘‘us’’ and ‘‘them.’’ When multiple
attributes align, the faultline is deemed stronger due to dif-
ferences between subgroups becoming more obvious (Lau
& Murnighan, 1998; van Knippenberg, De Dreu, &
Homan, 2004). Thus, PDTs have an inherit location-based
faultline and might be at risk of developing an additional
ECNs faultline. In our case, not only are teammates located
in a different location, they also communicate using differ-
ent norms. Such subgroup categorizations can harm groups
by lowering cooperation, commitment, and rendering group
members as less trust worthy while increasing interpersonal
tensions and conflict (for a review, see van Knippenberg &
Schippers, 2007).
We argue that it is not necessary to have a PDT for these
effects to occur. They might appear any time when there are
different media environments within a team. Within virtual
teams that had both phone and email, but were spread across
many time zones, one might observe in-group effects among
those who could collaborate synchronously (by phone) and
disconnects with those whose workday was misaligned and
had to rely only on asynchronous communication. Members
of collocated teams might form differing ECNs for use of
text messages and smartphones, causing a rift. The key ele-
ment in producing these effects is not any particular combi-
nation of technologies, but rather any difference in type and
quality of communication media chosen by a subsection of a
larger team, and the development of norms through the use
of those channels.
Limitations and Future Research
The current study did not use questionnaires to measure
psychological variables (e.g., identification, expectations,
goals). These measures might have been useful in better
understanding psychological processes underlying the
building of norms and use of CMC and their consequences.
For example, aspects of empathy toward coworkers have
been found to be influenced by dissimilarities in work
styles (Williams et al., 2007), which could have been the
case here as well. Subsequent research using the same
experimental paradigm has found differences in group iden-
tity and group efficacy as a result of geographic location
(Bos et al., 2010).
As in any laboratory study, factors such as prior rela-
tionships and real life events that might have an impact
in the field were lacking here. The communication orienta-
tion in our study was mixed: the task was interdependent
and cooperative in nature, yet it involved competition over
resources. As demonstrated by Swaab et al. (2012) the com-
munication orientation could have an effect on group
outcomes.
The simulation used a simplification in choice of
technologies available. The simulated remotes had limited
technology available – asynchronous text messages only.
A. Cheshin et al.: Electronic Communication Norms 19
Ó2013 Hogrefe Publishing Journal of Personnel Psychology 2013; Vol. 12(1):7–21
http://econtent.hogrefe.com/doi/pdf/10.1027/1866-5888/a000076 - Sunday, October 18, 2015 1:49:24 AM - IP Address:220.85.99.82
While some collaborative work is done this way, most
remotes would have other options such as phone, voice
over IP, or instant messaging. Still, different ECNs could
occur any time PDTs have different technologies available
in different locations.
Unfortunately, we were not able to capture the verbal
communication between collocated participants in this
experiment. This left our report on the communication of
collocateds incomplete as we only had recorded evidence
of their CMC. Future studies should capture and code ver-
bal communication adding more depth, and looking at a
more complete picture.
Possible Remedies Following our Findings
The ECNs in our study emerged implicitly. There were no
guidelines provided, nor was there a set of rules that would
have made these norms explicit. It might have been possi-
ble to disrupt this emergent norm by dictating explicit
norms for the whole team regarding CMC. There is evi-
dence that creating a set of explicit rules or norms for com-
munication (e.g., frequency of communication, message
acknowledgment) can enhance trust in virtual teams
(Walther & Bunz, 2005). Thus, the creation of explicit
ECNs for PDTs could have two positive effects.
Conclusion
Two distinct ECNs emerged in one team based on the com-
munication options open to them (i.e., the media environ-
ment in which they resided). Teams that had more than
one communication norm might be more vulnerable to sub-
group divisions. Managers should be aware of the tendency
of those in different media settings to develop explicit com-
munication norms. Ensuring consistency in team communi-
cation norms may decrease disconnects and conflicts, and
promote efficient collaboration across distance.
References
Bell, B. S., & Kozlowski, S. W. J. (2002). A Typology of
Virtual Teams: Implications for Effective Leadership.
Group Organization Management, 27, 14–49.
Blanchard, A. L. (2008). Testing a model of sense of virtual
community. Computers in Human Behavior, 24, 2107–2123.
Bos, N.D., Buyuktur, A., Olson, J., Olson, G., & Voida, A.
(2010). Shared identity helps partially distributed teams, but
distance still matters. Proceedings of Group '10 Interna-
tional Conference on Supporting Group Work. New York,
NY: ACM Press.
Bos, N. D., Olson, J., Nan, N., & Cheshin, A. (2009). Subgroup
biases in partly-distributed collaboration. Journal of Infor-
mation Technology Research, 2, 1–18.
Bos, N.D., Olson, J., Nan, N., Shami, N.S., Hoch, S., &
Johnston, E. (2006). Collocation blindness in partially
distributed groups: is there a downside to being collocated?
Proceedings of CHI 2006 New York, NY: ACM Press.
Bosch-Sijtsema, P. M. (2007). The impact of individual expec-
tations and expectation conflicts on virtual teams. Group &
Organization Management, 32, 358–388.
Burke, K., Aytes, K., Chidambaram, L., & Johnson, J. J. (1999).
A study of partially distributed work groups. Small Group
Research, 30, 453–490.
Cheshin, A., Rafaeli, A., & Bos, N.D. (2011). Anger and
happiness in virtual teams: Emotional influences of text and
behavior on othersaffect in the absence of non-verbal cues.
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes,
116, 2–16.
Cramton, C. D. (2001). The mutual knowledge problem and its
consequences for dispersed collaboration. Organization
Science, 12, 346–371.
Cramton, C. D., & Hinds, P. J. (2005). Subgroup dynamics in
internationally distributed teams: Ethnocentrism or cross-
national learning? Research in Organizational Behavior, 26,
231–263.
Cummings, J. N. (2004). Work groups, structural diversity, and
knowledge sharing in a global organization. Management
Science, 50, 352–364.
Daft, R. L., & Lengel, R. H. (1986). Organizational information
requirements, media richness and structural design.
Management Science, 32, 554–571.
Elwood, W. N., Greene, K., & Carter, K. K. (2003). Gentlemen
dont speak: Communication norms and condom use in
bathhouses. Journal of Applied Communication Research,
31, 277–297.
Fussell, S. R., Kiesler, S., Setlock, L. D., & Scupelli, P. (2004).
Effects of instant messaging on the management of multiple
project trajectories. In Proceedings of computer human
interaction. New York, NY: ACM Press.
Gibson, C. B., & Gibbs, J. L. (2006). Unpacking the concept of
virtuality: The effects of geographic dispersion, electronic
dependence, dynamic structure, and national diversity on
team innovation. Administrative Science Quarterly, 51,
451–495.
Hackman, R. (2011). Collaborative intelligence: Using teams to
solve hard problems. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler.
Herbsleb, J.D., Mockus, A., Finholt, T.A., & Grinter, R.E.
(2000). Distance dependencies, and delay in global collab-
oration. In Proceedings of CSCW 2000 (pp. 319–328).
New York, NY: ACM Press.
Hinds, P. J., & Bailey, D. E. (2003). Out of sight, out of sync:
Understanding conflict in distributed teams. Organization
Science, 14, 615–632.
Hinds, P. & Kiesler, S. (Eds.), (2002). Distributed Work.
Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press.
Homan, A. C., van Knippenberg, D., Van Kleef, G. A., & De
Dreu, C. K. W. (2007). Bridging faultlines by valuing
diversity: Diversity beliefs, information elaboration, and
performance in diverse work groups (Eds.), Journal of
Applied Psychology, 92, 1189–1199.
Kelly, G. A. (1955). The Psychology of Personal Constructs.
New York, NY: Norton.
Kiesler, S., Siegel, J., & McGuire, T. W. (1984). Social
psychological aspects of computer-mediated communica-
tion. American Psychologist, 39, 1123–1134.
Lau, D.C., & Murnighan, J. K. (1998). Demographic diversity
and faultlines: the compositional dynamics of organizational
groups. Academy of Management Review, 23, 325–340.
Lea, M., & Spears, R. (1992). Paralanguage and social
perception in computer-mediated communication. Journal
of Organizational Computing, 2, 321–341.
Mortensen, M., & Hinds, P. J. (2001). Conflict and shared
identity in geographically distributed teams. International
Journal of Conflict Management, 12, 212–238.
20 A. Cheshin et al.: Electronic Communication Norms
Journal of Personnel Psychology 2013; Vol. 12(1):7–21 Ó2013 Hogrefe Publishing
http://econtent.hogrefe.com/doi/pdf/10.1027/1866-5888/a000076 - Sunday, October 18, 2015 1:49:24 AM - IP Address:220.85.99.82
OLeary, M.B., & Mortensen, M. (2010). Go (con)figure:
Subgroups, imbalance, and isolates in geographically dis-
persed teams. Organization Science, 21, 115–131.
Olson, G., & Olson, J. (2001). Distance matters. Human
Computer Interaction, 15, 139–179.
Petty, R. E., & Cacioppo, J. T. (1979). Issue involvement can
increase or decrease persuasion by enhancing message-
relevant cognitive processes. Journal of Personality and
Social Psychology, 37, 1915–1926.
Petty, R. E., & Cacioppo, J. T. (1986). The Elaboration Like-
lihood Model of persuasion. In L. Berkowitz (Ed.), Advances
in experimental social psychology (Vol. 19, pp. 123–205).
New York, NY: Academic Press.
Petty, R. E., Wells, G. L., & Brock, T. C. (1976). Distraction
can enhance or reduce yielding to propaganda: Thought
disruption versus effort justification. Journal of Personality
and Social Psychology, 34, 874–884.
Polzer, J. T., Crisp, C. B., Jarvenpaa, S. L., & Kim, J. W.
(2006). Extending the faultline concept to geographically
dispersed teams: How colocated subgroups can impair group
functioning. Academy of Management Journal, 49, 679–692.
Postmes, T., Spears, R., & Lea, M. (2000). The formation of
group norms in computer-mediated communication. Human
Communication Research, 26, 341–371.
Rico, R., Molleman, E., Snchez-Manzanares, M., & Van der
Vegt, G. S. (2007). The effects of diversity faultlines and
team task autonomy on decision quality and social integra-
tion. Journal of Management, 33, 111–132.
Snyder, R. A., & Morris, J. H. (1984). Organizational commu-
nication and performance. Journal of Applied Psychology,
69, 461–465.
Spears, R., Lea, M., & Lee, S. (1990). De-individuation and
group polarization in computer-mediated communication.
British Journal of Social Psychology, 29, 121–134.
Spears, R., Postmes, T., Lea, M., & Watt, S. E. (2001). A
SIDE view of social influence. In J. P. Forgas & K. D.
Williams (Eds.), Social influence. Direct and indirect
processes (pp. 331–350). Philadelphia, PA: Psychology
Press.
Sproull, L., & Keisler, S. (1986). Reducing social context cues:
electronic mail in organizational communication. Manage-
ment Science, 32, 1492–1512.
Stephens, K. K., Houser, M. L., & Cowan, R. L. (2009). R u
able to meat me: The impacts of studentsoverly casual
email messages to instructors. Communication Education,
58, 303–326.
Swaab, R. I., Galinsky, A. D., Medvec, V., & Diermeier, D. A.
(2012). The communication orientation model: Explaining
the diverse effects of sight, sound, and synchronicity on
negotiation and group decision-making outcomes. Person-
ality and Social Psychology Review, 16, 25–53.
Tajfel, H., & Turner, J. C. (1986). The social identity theory of
intergroup behavior. In S. Worchel & W. Austin (Eds.),
Psychology of intergroup relations (pp. 7–24). Chicago, IL:
Nelson-Hall.
Turner, J. C. (1991). Social influence. Belmont, CA: Thomson
Brooks/Cole.
Tyler, T. R., & Blader, S. L. (2003). The group engagement
model: Procedural justice, social identity, and cooperative
behavior. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 7,
349–361.
van Knippenberg, D., De Dreu, C. K. W., & Homan, A. C.
(2004). Work group diversity and group performance: An
integrative model and research agenda. Journal of Applied
Psychology, 89, 1008–1022.
van Knippenberg, D., & Schippers, M. C. (2007). Work group
diversity. Annual Review of Psychology, 58, 515–541.
Vignovic, J. A., & Thompson, L. F. (2010). Computer mediated
cross cultural communication: attributing communication
errors to the person versus the situation. Journal of Applied
Psychology, 95, 265–276.
Walther, J. B. (1992). Interpersonal effects in computer med-
iated interaction: a relational perspective. Communication
Research, 19, 52–90.
Walther, J. B. (1994). Anticipated ongoing interaction versus
channel effects on relational communication in computer-
mediated interaction. Human Communication Research, 20,
473–501.
Walther, J. B., & Bunz, U. (2005). The rules of virtual groups:
Trust, liking, and performance in computer-mediated com-
munication. Journal of Communication, 55, 828–846.
Williams, H. M., Parker, S. K., & Turner, N. (2007). Perceived
dissimilarity and perspective taking within work teams.
Group & Organization Management, 32, 569–597.
Yates, J., & Orlikowski, W. (2002). Genre systems: Structuring
interaction through communicative norms. Journal of Busi-
ness Communication, 39, 13–35.
Arik Cheshin
Department of Social Psychology
University of Amsterdam
Weesperplein 4
1018 XA Amsterdam
The Netherlands
+31 20 525-6116
+31 20 639-1896
E-mail a.cheshin@uva.nl
A. Cheshin et al.: Electronic Communication Norms 21
Ó2013 Hogrefe Publishing Journal of Personnel Psychology 2013; Vol. 12(1):7–21
http://econtent.hogrefe.com/doi/pdf/10.1027/1866-5888/a000076 - Sunday, October 18, 2015 1:49:24 AM - IP Address:220.85.99.82
... Byron (2008) suggests that the creation of display norms can help users interpret emotional content in computer-mediated communication. Indeed, there is evidence that teams using computer-mediated communication develop their own norms of interaction (Postmes et al., 2000;Cheshin et al., 2013). Moreover, Cheshin et al. (2013) showed that while norms may be created based on the specific medium being used (e.g., text messages vs. face-to-face communication), these norms stick even when communication channels change. ...
... Indeed, there is evidence that teams using computer-mediated communication develop their own norms of interaction (Postmes et al., 2000;Cheshin et al., 2013). Moreover, Cheshin et al. (2013) showed that while norms may be created based on the specific medium being used (e.g., text messages vs. face-to-face communication), these norms stick even when communication channels change. These findings point to the importance and stability of both communication norms and emotional norms in virtual communications, and hint that violations of these norms will be noticed, and as such should lead to negative consequences. ...
Article
Full-text available
When it comes to evaluating emotions as either “good” or “bad,” everyday beliefs regarding emotions rely mostly on their hedonic features—does the emotion feel good to the person experiencing the emotion? However, emotions are not only felt inwardly; they are also displayed outwardly, and others’ responses to an emotional display can produce asymmetric outcomes (i.e., even emotions that feel good to the displayer can lead to negative outcomes for the displayer and others). Focusing on organizational settings, this manuscript reviews the literature on the outcomes of emotional expressions and argues that the evidence points to perceived (in)appropriateness of emotional displays as key to their consequences: emotional displays that are deemed inappropriate generate disadvantageous outcomes for the displayer, and at times also the organization. Drawing on relevant theoretical models [Emotions as Social Information (EASI) theory, the Dual Threshold Model of Anger, and Asymmetrical Outcomes of Emotions], the paper highlights three broad and interrelated reasons why emotion displays could be deemed unfitting and inappropriate: (1) characteristics of the displayer (e.g., status, gender); (2) characteristics of the display (e.g., intensity, mode); and (3) characteristics of the context (e.g., national or organizational culture, topic of interaction). The review focuses on three different emotions—anger, sadness, and happiness—which differ in their valence based on how they feel to the displayer, but can yield different interpersonal outcomes. In conclusion, the paper argues that inappropriateness must be judged separately from whether an emotional display is civil (i.e., polite and courteous) or uncivil (i.e., rude, discourteous, and offensive). Testable propositions are presented, as well as suggested future research directions.
... Partially Distributed Teams (PDTs) are teams in which at least one team member is located elsewhere and is typically connected to the rest of the team via computer-mediated communication channels [8]. Bos et al. [4][5][6], Voida et al. [39], and Cheshin et al. [9] conducted several lab studies that used a web-based prototype of a simple collaborative trade and production game with an email-like chat functionality to identify factors that influence the nature of collaboration in PDTs. They found that the medium of communication (e.g., face-to-face conversation vs. text-based chat) has an influence on the perceived social presence of a team member and the communication effectiveness of the team, but not necessarily on the overall team performance. ...
... However, while shared identity mitigated some of the effects of the location fault line, both fault lines still had an effect on the performance of the team members. (4) Electronic communication norms (ECN) [9]: ECNs differ, for example, in the types of information that is shared, the rate of interaction, or the formality of messages. Cheshin et al. investigated the emergence of ECNs and showed that traveling members kept some of their ECNs after swapping remotes and collocateds. ...
Article
Full-text available
We present Domino, a descriptive framework for hybrid collaboration and hybrid coupling styles in partially distributed teams. Domino enables researchers to describe, analyze, and understand real-world hybrid collaboration practices, i.e., collaborative practices that involve simultaneous co-located and remote collaboration with phases of both synchronous and asynchronous work that spans multiple groupware applications and devices. It also helps to categorize collaborative activities based on yet undocumented hybrid coupling styles between the members of multiple partially distributed or co-located subgroups. Our Domino framework was derived from initial observations of real-world practice and refined by the detailed analysis of participants' behavior and working styles during a simulation of a complex hybrid collaboration task with six partially distributed teams of four users in our lab. The resulting framework allows researchers to view collaboration through a new analytical lens, use new analytical tools, and also derive implications for the design of collaborative tools.
... While 'partially distributed' is part of our search query's first set, it was only triggered if any of the query's second set's terms was used in combination, which was not the case. Another example is Cheshin et al. [34], who investigated for PDTs how electronic communication norms (ECNs) emerge and furthermore "showed that traveling members kept some of their ECNs after swapping remotes and collocateds" [135]. The article was not included because it was published in the Journal of Personnel Psychology (Hogregfe), outside the ACM DL. ...
Preprint
Interest in hybrid collaboration and meetings (HCM), where several co-located participants engage in coordinated work with remote participants, is gaining unprecedented momentum after the rapid shift in working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, while the interest is new, researchers have been exploring HCM phenomena for decades, albeit dispersed across diverse research traditions, using different terms, definitions, and frameworks. In this article, we present a systematic literature review of the contexts and tools of HCM in the ACM Digital Library. We obtained approximately 1,200 results, which were narrowed down to 62 key articles. We report on the terms, citations, venues, authors, domains, study types, and data of these publications and present a taxonomic overview based on their reported hybrid settings' actual characteristics. We discuss why the SLR resulted in a relatively small number of publications, and then as a corollary, discuss how some excluded high-profile publications flesh out the SLR findings to provide important additional concepts. The SLR itself covers the ACM until November 2019, so our discussion also includes relevant 2020 and 2021 publications. The end result is a baseline that researchers and designers can use in shaping the post-COVID-19 future of HCM systems.
... While email norms are still evolving and change between groups and teams (Cheshin et al., 2013;Glikson and Erez, 2013), research suggests that formal and conservative use of accurate punctuation, spelling, and grammar is the expected etiquette (Pankoke-Babatz and Jeffrey, 2002;Lewin-Jones and Mason, 2014). Politeness (e.g., correct grammar) increases positive views of the message and of the sender (Jessmer and Anderson, 2001), while etiquette violations negatively shape readers' perceptions of email writers (Vignovic and Thompson, 2010). ...
Article
Full-text available
The shift to working from home, which has intensified due to Covid-19, increased our reliance on communication technology and the need to communicate effectively via computer-mediated communication and especially via text. Paralinguistic cues, such as repeated punctuation, are used to compensate for the lack of non-verbal cues in text-based formats. However, it is unclear whether these cues indeed bridge the potential gap between the writer's intentions and the reader's interpretations. A pilot study and two experiments investigated the effect of using repeated punctuation on behavioral intention to assist an email writer in a work-related situation. Findings demonstrate that while the intentions behind using repeated punctuation relate to signaling situational importance or affective state, behavioral intentions are driven by dispositional rather than situational attributions. Specifically, the use of repeated punctuation reduces perceived competence of the message writer and consequently decreases positive behavioral intentions. Overall, the study challenges the simplified view of paralinguistic cues as communication facilitators, highlighting their potential harmful effects on impression formation and behavioral intentions in the digital age.
... Managing conflict is even more challenging for virtual teams where some members partially rely on distance communication, while others still meet face-to-face. Such different communication patterns may generate distinct interaction norms within a team and deepen the division between physically divided team members (Cheshin et al., 2013) Leadership in virtual environments is indeed more challenging than in face-to-face teams (Carte et al., 2006). Coordinating within teams, building trust, forming shared mental models and managing conflict all require extra efforts than in a traditional team setting (Liao, 2017). ...
Article
Full-text available
Purpose The purpose of this article is to explain the effect of leadership styles on a virtual team efficiency, assuming the existence of mediating variables (media richness) influencing this relationship. Design/methodology/approach The data were collected within the framework of an online survey based on a sample of 300 observations (MENA region) with respondents from the IT sector. These results were generated by SPSS and AMOS 23 software and treated using an exploratory factor analysis and modeling by structural equation. Findings The results of the research attest that trust and operational cohesion play a mediating role between leadership styles and team performance. They also confirm that leadership styles impact operational cohesion and group trust according to different levels of media richness, thus creating different situations fluctuating according to its level. Research limitations/implications From a methodological point of view, the sample choice was not diversified. Only the IT companies are concerned with this study. Therefore, the generalization of obtained results can be questioned. The research results could be refined by trying to highlight trust mediating variable through antecedents evoked by Mayer et al. (1995) or Williams (2001), namely, competence, benevolence or even integrity. Competence and benevolence deserve, on the conceptual plan, to be fully integrated to the definition itself of trust under penalty of see the concept itself of trust impoverish considerably (Mayer et al. , 1995). Practical implications On a practical level, the optimal efficiency of a virtual team depends on a high level of media richness with a transformational leadership mobilized by the managers that would favor a good operational cohesion of the group. Various techniques could be employed to improve a social dynamic of the group (periodic conference calls, face to face meetings, team building). Originality/value This research clarifies how leadership styles influence virtual team efficiency through operational cohesion and trust. Furthermore, this research reaffirms, in addition from previous works, that the communication means to which virtual teams recur influence the degree of operating cohesion and increase that of performance.
... Other studies conceptualize facetime as the actual face-to-face interactions taking place between employees and focus on the benefits of increasing them (Golden, 2007;Golden, Veiga, & Dino, 2008;Vayre & Pignault, 2014). In both groups of studies the value of facetime lies in the physical presence and proximity in the workplace as it allows for face-to-face interactions, which are considered superior to any other form of communication (Andres, 2013;Bosch-Sijtsema et al., 2011;Cheshin, Kim, Bos, Ning, & Olson, 2013;Oliver & Roos, 2003;Rhoads, 2010). ...
Article
Digital tools for collocated synchronous communication, like backchannels and question management systems, are increasingly used in events and education to support interaction between performer(s) and audience. Discussions in the communication tool are prone to various unexpected interruptions which violate against the communication tools' original purpose, i.e. violating performers' expected norms. We study such norm violations and related performers' coping approaches in two 15-week-long field experiments in two elementary schools. Our results demonstrate how the collocated synchronous tools form dual-channel communication environment where both physical and digital channel are in use at the same time. We show how norm violations 'spill over' from their onset in one channel to continue in the other. However, we observed performers coping approaches were primarily focused in the physical channel. This resulted in an asymmetry of presence and delayed the performers' ability to act on violations. Our findings show that the channels in dual-channel communication are tightly interwoven and must be considered as an integrated communication space instead of two co-occurring but separate channels. We provide a framework to study norm violations and discuss implications of this framework on the design of these systems.
Article
Cambridge Core - Organisation Studies - The Cambridge Handbook of Technology and Employee Behavior - edited by Richard N. Landers
Article
The Cambridge Handbook of Technology and Employee Behavior - edited by Richard N. Landers February 2019
Chapter
This chapter examines how virtual teams (VTs) compare to their face-to-face (FtF) counterparts, as well as the impact of virtuality on team dynamics and performance. It describes how the term has been conceptualized as well as the approaches that researchers have utilized in operationalizing team virtuality. The chapter highlights some “favorite” theories, which continue to receive a great deal of research attention as well as a few other established team and organizational theories that remain less well integrated within the VT literature. It suggests that future research involving VTs should start to more fully consider which of the existing theories are appropriate to understand this domain. In terms of methodological trends with the VT literature over the past decade includes the following main categories: laboratory studies and student samples; cross-sectional design; level of analysis; technology; and social network analysis.
Article
Full-text available
Virtual teams are characterized by geographical dispersion, organizational, and cultural heterogeneity, and their members have little history and lateral and weak relationships. Literature denotes the importance of expectations in virtual settings, but individual expectations of virtual team members are hardly investigated. In this article, the author discusses the presence of different kinds of expectations and the impact of mismatches of individual expectations within virtual teams. Psychological contract literature states that expectation mismatches result in negative outcomes, whereas learning literature posits that mismatches enhance learning. These concepts addressing mismatches of expectations are discussed as a theoretical paradox.
Article
Full-text available
This chapter outlines the two basic routes to persuasion. One route is based on the thoughtful consideration of arguments central to the issue, whereas the other is based on the affective associations or simple inferences tied to peripheral cues in the persuasion context. This chapter discusses a wide variety of variables that proved instrumental in affecting the elaboration likelihood, and thus the route to persuasion. One of the basic postulates of the Elaboration Likelihood Model—that variables may affect persuasion by increasing or decreasing scrutiny of message arguments—has been highly useful in accounting for the effects of a seemingly diverse list of variables. The reviewers of the attitude change literature have been disappointed with the many conflicting effects observed, even for ostensibly simple variables. The Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) attempts to place these many conflicting results and theories under one conceptual umbrella by specifying the major processes underlying persuasion and indicating the way many of the traditionally studied variables and theories relate to these basic processes. The ELM may prove useful in providing a guiding set of postulates from which to interpret previous work and in suggesting new hypotheses to be explored in future research. Copyright © 1986 Academic Press Inc. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Article
Full-text available
Giant strides in information technology at the turn of the century may have unleashed unreachable goals. With the invention of groupware, people expect to communicate easily with each other and accomplish difficult work even though they are remotely located or rarely overlap in time. Major corporations launch global teams, expecting that technology will make "virtual collocation" possible. Federal research money encourages global science through the establishment of "collaboratories." We review over 10 years of field and laboratory investigations of collocated and noncollocated synchronous group collaborations. In particular, we compare collocated work with remote work as it is possible today and comment on the promise of remote work tomorrow. We focus on the sociotechnical conditions required for effective distance work and bring together the results with four key concepts: common ground, coupling of work, collaboration readiness, and collaboration technology readiness. Groups with high common ground and loosely coupled work, with readiness both for collaboration and collaboration technology, have a chance at succeeding with remote work. Deviations from each of these create strain on the relationships among teammates and require changes in the work or processes of collaboration to succeed. Often they do not succeed because distance still matters.
Article
Full-text available
In this article we address issues of diversity within organizational groups by discussing and summarizing previous approaches and by introducing a new variable-faultlines-which depends on the alignment of individual member characteristics. By analyzing a group's faultlines, we focus attention on the underlying patterns of group member characteristics, which can be an important determinant of subgroup conflict, particularly when the group's task is related to one of its faultlines. We discuss the dynamics of faultlines from the early to later stages of a group's development and show how they may be strongest and most likely when diversity of individual member characteristics is moderate.
Article
Full-text available
To understand why the virtual design strategies that organizations create to foster innovation may in fact hinder it, we unpack four characteristics often associated with the term ‘virtuality’ (geographic dispersion, electronic dependence, structural dynamism, and national diversity) and argue that each hinders innovation through unique mechanisms, many of which can be overcome by creating a psychologically safe communication climate. We first tested the plausibility of our arguments using in-depth qualitative analysis of interviews with 177 members of 14 teams in a variety of industries. A second study constituted a more formal test of hypotheses using survey data collected from 266 members of 56 aerospace design teams. Results show that the four characteristics are not highly intercorrelated, that they have independent and differential effects on innovation, and that a psychologically safe communication climate helps mitigate the challenges they pose. We discuss the implications of these findings for theory and research.
Article
Though geographically distributed teams are rapidly increasing in prevalence, empirical research examining the effect of distance on group process has not kept pace. In a study of 24 product development teams located within five companies, we attempt to bridge this gap by comparing the amount of task and affective conflict reported in collocated versus geographically distributed teams. We further examine the impact of socially shared identity, cultural heterogeneity, and reliance upon mediated communication on conflict. As hypothesized, level of shared team identity was associated with significantly reduced levels of task conflict within distributed, but not collocated teams. Similar effects were found for affective conflict; thereby suggesting that a strong socially shared identity may serve as a means of reducing conflict within distributed teams. Contrary to prior research, a significant negative relationship between cultural heterogeneity and task conflict was found within geographically collocated teams. Although distributed teams were more culturally heterogeneous than collocated teams, within distributed teams no significant relationship between conflict and heterogeneity was found.
Article
The bulk of our understanding of teams is based on traditional teams in which all members are collocated and communicate face to face. However, geographically distributed teams, whose members are not collocated and must often communicate via technology, are growing in prevalence. Studies from the field are beginning to suggest that geographically distributed teams operate differently and experience different outcomes than traditional teams. For example, empirical studies suggest that distributed teams experience high levels of conflict. These empirical studies offer rich and valuable descriptions of this conflict, but they do not systematically identify the mechanisms by which conflict is engendered in distributed teams. In this paper, we develop a theory-based explanation of how geographical distribution provokes team-level conflict. We do so by considering the two characteristics that distinguish distributed teams from traditional ones: Namely, we examine how being distant from one's team members and relying on technology to mediate communication and collaborative work impacts team members. Our analysis identifies antecedents to conflict that are unique to distributed teams. We predict that conflict of all types (task, affective, and process) will be detrimental to the performance of distributed teams, a result that is contrary to much research on traditional teams. We also investigate conflict as a dynamic process to determine how teams might mitigate these negative impacts over time.
Article
The formation of group norms in computer-mediated communication (CMC) was examined among students who used e-mail as part of a course. A network analysis of group structures revealed that (a) content and form of communication is normative, group norms defining communication patterns within groups, (b) conformity to group norms increases over time, (c) communication outside the group is governed by different social norms. Results show that norms prescribing a particular use of technology are socially constructed over time at the level of locally defined groups and also show that the influence of these norms is limited to the boundaries of the group. It is concluded that the process of social construction is restrained by social identities that become salient over the course of interaction via CMC. These findings complement experimental evidence that stresses the importance of normative influence in CMC.