The knowledge that virtual process improvement teams have been successful (DeLuca, Gasson, & Kock, 2006; Kock & DeLuca, 2006; DeLuca & Valacich, 2006; Kock, 2006) and lessons learned from those teams may be what is needed to provide confidence to organizations that virtual process improvement efforts would come to fruition. To manage such initiatives effectively, it is important to understand how these virtual teams overcame the difficulties of e-collaboration. Existing theories of information processing in organizations do not scale well to the complex forms of knowledge integration required at the boundary between the diverse teams found in virtual organizations. Thus, we based our investigation on a new theory of communication behavior, compensatory adaptation theory (CAT) (Kock, 2005b) and the relationships suggested by it, explained in the next section. We also operationalize a key construct, compensatory adaptations and present the adaptations made by participants in the study (DeLuca et al., 2006).
Key Terms in this Chapter
Compensatory Adaptations Principle: Use of e-collaboration media requires that adaptations be made to compensate for the lack of naturalness of the media. The adaptations made to use e-collaboration may generate outcomes of same or better quality than if team members had interacted solely face-to-face.
Media-Cognitive-Social Model of Creativity: A model of three influences on creativity—media characteristics (immediacy, cues, parallelism, rehearsability, reprocessability), cognitive influences (attention, diversity, incubation), and social influences (accountability, affiliation, anxiety).
Adaptiveness: Potential to acknowledge, adapt and personalize messages of a particular communicant.
Lean Media: Media that lack many of the features of face-to-face communications (e.g., immediate feedback, presence of visual, auditory, and social cues) like e-mail and bulletin boards.
Cues: Vocal, non-verbal, paralinguistic, bodily, and social cues.
Media Synchronicity Theory: A theory based on media characteristics, task communication function, and team processes. Synchronicity is more important for convergence than for conveyance processes.
Compensatory Adaptations: Adaptations made to communicative behavior in order to compensate or overcompensate for the perceived obstacles to communication—operationalized as three constructs—(1) interactivity; (2) channel capacity; and (3) adaptiveness.
Business Process Improvement: Improved use of resources needed to execute a set of interrelated activities performed in an organization with the goal of generating value in connection with a product or service.
Asynchronous Creativity Theory (ACT): Theory that considers the effects of communication media capabilities on the traditional social and cognitive factors affecting creativity; the net effect of which is that teams using asynchronous e-collaboration may have and the effect of greater potential for creativity than synchronous face-to-face teams.
Lean E-Collaboration: E-collaboration using lean media.
Compensatory Adaptation Theory: A theory based on the media naturalness principle and compensatory adaptations principle whereby team members compensate or even overcompensate for perceived lack of media naturalness (obstacles) of a communication medium. The outcome of the compensations is improved communication.
Media Naturalness Principle: The degree of similarity between a given communication medium and the face-to-face medium determines the naturalness of the media and the cognitive effort needed to use the media for communications.
Asynchronous E-Collaboration: Collaboration among individuals engaged in a common task using electronic technologies that allow input at different times.
Channel Capacity: Ability to transmit a high variety of language and social cues (both verbal and non-verbal).
Interactivity: Potential to obtain immediate feedback from other communicants.