Collaboration in Virtual Worlds: Impact of Task Complexity on Team Trust and Satisfaction

Collaboration in Virtual Worlds: Impact of Task Complexity on Team Trust and Satisfaction

Fiona Fui-Hoon Nah (Department of Business & Information Technology, Missouri University of Science and Technology, Rolla, MO, USA), Shu Z. Schiller (Wright State University, Dayton, OH, USA), Brian E. Mennecke (Iowa State University, Ames, IA, USA), Keng Siau (Department of Business & Information Technology, Missouri University of Science and Technology, Rolla, MO, USA), Brenda Eschenbrenner (University of Nebraska at Kearney, Kearney, NE, USA) and Parichart Sattayanuwat (University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE. USA)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/JDM.2017100104
OnDemand PDF Download:
$30.00
List Price: $37.50

Abstract

Virtual worlds are three-dimensional, computer-generated worlds in which team collaboration can be facilitated through the use of shared virtual space and mediated using avatars. This article examines the effect of task complexity on team collaboration. A puzzle game in Second Life was used as the collaborative task and task complexity was manipulated by varying the number of pieces in the puzzle. The hypotheses are that task complexity influences team trust, and team trust influences team process satisfaction in virtual team collaboration. The experimental results indicate that task complexity has significant effects on team trust and team process satisfaction, and team trust fully mediates the relationship between task complexity and team process satisfaction.
Article Preview

Introduction

Virtual worlds can be defined as three-dimensional (3D), computer-simulated environments that replicate elements of the real world (Chen et al. 2008; Chen et al. 2009; Chen et al. 2012; Eschenbrenner et al., 2008). Specifically, virtual environments include a space for interaction – they offer users the ability to interact with and manipulate objects within the space, and the user’s “presence” is projected into the space using a graphical representation called an avatar. Through the mediation of the avatar (DeWester et al., 2009a, 2009b), virtual worlds facilitate real-time social interaction and collaboration by enabling users to cognitively immerse themselves in a shared virtual space, interact and communicate using text and voice, and work together on projects regardless of the physical proximity of the users in the real world. Virtual worlds have attracted the attention of both businesses and researchers as a new and promising technology for collaborative work (Davis et al., 2009; Schiller et al. 2011).

Virtual collaboration is a key theme in organizational uses of virtual worlds (Kock, 2008). Despite the important role of collaboration and social interaction in virtual worlds, team collaboration in virtual worlds is an underexplored research area (Bosch-Sijtsema & Sivunen, 2013). As is the case with many emerging technologies, users of virtual environments may perceive or assume positive or negative influences of virtual collaboration on team outcomes. However, the mechanisms by which these team outcomes are realized have yet to be fully understood or studied. Furthermore, task has been consistently shown to influence team engagement in shared activities, team perceptions of their interactions and outcomes, and the pace or speed of task completion (Kim et al., 2016; McGrath, 1984; Mennecke et al., 2000; Osatuyi et al., 2016; Stewart & Barrick, 2000).

Certain tasks are argued to be more conducive to virtual teams than others (Ford et al., 2017). For instance, tasks that have more structured timelines and clearly defined outcomes are better suited for virtual teams than tasks that are continuous or vague. While many task characteristics have been examined in the literature, task complexity has been shown to be important (Wood, 1986) in influencing the role of technological support and mediation in various task contexts (Mennecke et al., 2000). In this research, we study the effect of task complexity on team collaboration in a virtual world.

The results of our experiment suggest that higher levels of task complexity result in higher levels of team trust and team process satisfaction. We also found that team trust fully mediates the relationship between task complexity and team process satisfaction. These findings suggest that the design of activities intended to build trust among team members should consider the complexity of the task. More specifically, activities with greater complexity should be utilized for trust-building exercises among teammates.

Complete Article List

Search this Journal:
Reset
Open Access Articles
Volume 28: 4 Issues (2017)
Volume 27: 4 Issues (2016)
Volume 26: 4 Issues (2015)
Volume 25: 4 Issues (2014)
Volume 24: 4 Issues (2013)
Volume 23: 4 Issues (2012)
Volume 22: 4 Issues (2011)
Volume 21: 4 Issues (2010)
Volume 20: 4 Issues (2009)
Volume 19: 4 Issues (2008)
Volume 18: 4 Issues (2007)
Volume 17: 4 Issues (2006)
Volume 16: 4 Issues (2005)
Volume 15: 4 Issues (2004)
Volume 14: 4 Issues (2003)
Volume 13: 4 Issues (2002)
Volume 12: 4 Issues (2001)
Volume 11: 4 Issues (2000)
Volume 10: 4 Issues (1999)
Volume 9: 4 Issues (1998)
Volume 8: 4 Issues (1997)
Volume 7: 4 Issues (1996)
Volume 6: 4 Issues (1995)
Volume 5: 4 Issues (1994)
Volume 4: 4 Issues (1993)
Volume 3: 4 Issues (1992)
Volume 2: 4 Issues (1991)
Volume 1: 2 Issues (1990)
View Complete Journal Contents Listing