Virtual Teams as Sociotechnical Systems

Virtual Teams as Sociotechnical Systems

Haydee M. Cuevas (University of Central Florida, USA), Stephen M. Fiore (University of Central Florida, USA), Eduardo Salas (University of Central Florida, USA) and Clint A. Bowers (University of Central Florida, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-553-5.ch535
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Abstract

A virtual team can be described as an organizational unit unconstrained by geographical, temporal, organizational, and/or national boundaries (Townsend, DeMarie & Hendrickson, 1998). Despite their rising popularity, numerous issues exist surrounding how virtual teams can productively coordinate their resources, activities, and information, often in dynamic and uncertain task environments (Fiore, Salas, Cuevas & Bowers, 2003; Townsend et al., 1998). With organizational structure increasing in complexity to include both co-located and virtual team members, explicit linkages between theory and practice are critically needed to mitigate the negative effects that technology-mediated interaction may have on virtual team productivity. Our goal here is to demonstrate how classic and current theories and principles from organizational psychology can be effectively integrated within a sociotechnical systems framework to address the unique challenges faced by this subset of teams. Specifically, we analyze the effects that collaborative information technology and lack of co-location may have on virtual team members. We conclude with suggested interventions for organizational practice.

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