Improving the Performance of Virtual Teams through Team Dynamics

Improving the Performance of Virtual Teams through Team Dynamics

Daphna Shwarts-Asher (Tel Aviv University, Israel)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-786-7.ch006
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Abstract

The aim of this chapter is to understanding how virtual teams operate in organizations. Qualitative data was collected by interviewing 20 virtual team managers and members of 20 different organizations. A semi-structured interview format was used to collect extensive information of the characteristics of the organizations, what projects virtual team participated in, how virtual teams operate and the difficulties virtual teams face. Using a comprehensive literature review and interviews summaries, a model, suggesting that team dynamics can increase the teams’ output, was developed, and propositions that are raised by the model are discussed. The virtual team is a common way of working nowadays, and with the growing use of Internet applications and firms’ globalization the use of virtual teams will expand in the future. Thus, this chapter provides new directions for future research in the field of virtual teams.
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Background

Virtual teams are becoming increasingly prevalent as businesses bring geographically dispersed members together to achieve a common goal. Majchrzak et al. (2004) stated that it isn't necessary any more to bring team members together to get their best work: In fact, they can be even more productive if they stay separated and do all their collaborating virtually; when carefully managed, the clash of perspectives led to fundamental solutions, turning distance and diversity into a competitive advantage.

Yet, virtual teams are less successful than face-to-face teams on most outcome measures (Denton, 2006; Potter & Balthazard, 2002). Despite the wide spread of virtual teams, little is known about virtual team processes. Much of virtual team research fails to examine variations in virtual team characteristics that may affect team communication behaviors (Timmerman & Scott, 2006).

Though Potter & Balthazard (2002) argued that interaction style predicts outcomes in virtual teams in ways very similar to those seen in face-to-face teams, Branson, Clausen & Sung (2008) claimed that face-to-face teams form and function differently than computer-mediated (virtual) teams. The differences affect the ability of groups of people to successfully form a team that can function effectively. For example, Warkentin, Sayeed & Hightower (1997) found that virtual team members report lower levels of satisfaction. Lurey & Raisinghani (2001) showed that the teams' processes effecting team performance as well.

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