The Strategic Use of "Distance" Among Virtual Team Members: A Multidimensional Communication Model

The Strategic Use of "Distance" Among Virtual Team Members: A Multidimensional Communication Model

Paul M. Leonardi (Stanford University, USA), Michele Jackson (University of Colorado at Boulder, USA) and Natalie Marsh (University of Colorado at Boulder, USA)
Copyright: © 2004 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-204-6.ch009
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Abstract

Distance, in the context of virtual teams, has traditionally been treated as an unproblematic, in fact positive, by-product of work practices mediated by information and communication technologies. Research has largely overlooked the notion of distance and its relationship to virtual team work practices and digital telecommunications technologies. Explored in this chapter is the nature of distance by investigating perceptions of “distance” among teleworkers and addressing how virtual team members strategically use the distance enabled by telecommunications technologies to manage a variety of organizational practices. Interviews with 46 distance workers across 10 industries, making up 17 virtual teams, found that members conceptualize distance across three important dimensions: distance and emotion, distance and identity, and distance and communication strategies. We discuss each of these dimensions and propose moving from a notion of distance as a mere outcome of the use of information and communication technologies, to a reconceptualization of it as a multidimensional construct created and maintained through communication practices.

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