Virtual distance is a multidimensional perceptual construct resulting from key elements that promote a sense of distance in e-collaborative work environments. Why will virtual distance help to uncover some of the potential downside risks of collaboration using virtual and outsourced resources? Research has shown that the perceived distance between two or more individuals has negative effects on communication and persuasion and promotes a tendency to deceive more than those who do not perceive themselves to be as distant (Bradner & Mark, 2002). Virtual team members and work groups are, by definition, distant from one another, not only in the physical sense but in other ways as well. Socio-emotional factors, for example, can play a role in perceived distance and these factors may contribute to decreased success (Barczak & McDonough, 2003).
Key Terms in this Chapter
Interdependence Distance: Interdependence is the degree to which one individual or group perceives that their success is tied to another individual or group member. Interdependence distance is created when individuals or groups do not perceive their goals or tasks as interconnected.
Virtual Distance Model: The virtual distance model incorporates a set of eleven physical, social and work-related factors that create a sense of perceived distance in individuals, teams and organizations collaborating in virtual space. Virtual distance is created as distance within each of the eleven factors in the model becomes greater.
Relational Distance: Relational distance is based on the difference between team members’ organizational affiliations. Distance is created when individuals are in different companies.
Relationship History Distance: Relationship history includes both the extent to which members have had prior relationships with one another (strong ties), or relationships with some of the same people (weak ties). Distance is created if the strong and weak ties between individuals are absent.
Cultural Distance: Cultural distance is a function of differences in values and communication styles that are rooted in culture (demographic OR organizational). Distance is created when individuals or groups perceive that their values and communication styles differ from others.
Social Distance: Social distance is based on perceptions of class or status differences that produce feelings of social closeness or distance based on social interactions. Social distance is created when individuals perceive themselves to be in a different class or status than others. This can be formal status or informal status differences.
Virtual Distance Index: The virtual distance index is an operational measure (quantitative score) of virtual distance. It is a standardized, equally weighted average of all of the virtual distance factors in the model.