Virtual Teams in a Global Environment

Here are my notes for a symposium held at the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology on March 8, 2010.

Topic: Building and Managing Virtual Teams in a Global Environment: Moving Forward Through Matching Insights, Tools, and Technology


Stephen J. Zaccaro – George Mason University

Stacey Connaughton, Ph.D. – Purdue University

Anna T. Cianciolo – Command Performance Research, Inc.

David Harrison – Penn State

Team Composition: Basic Framework

1. Team Inputs  – > Team processes -> Team Effectiveness

2. Shortcomings. Much research has focused primarily on personality composition of the team. Need to focus particularly on taskwork and teamwork.

Staffing Framework

1. Taskwork Skills. Teamwork skills.

2. Generic skills. Specific skills.

References: Cannon-Bowers, Tannenbaum, Salas & Volpe (1995); Orvis & Zaccaro (2008)

Concceptual Model

1. Competencies (generic taskwork, specific taskwork, generic teamwork, specific teamwork) –> Team States & Team Processes -> Team Effectiveness

2. Quesiton: what team and mission characteristics influence the above?

Steps for Team Staffing

1. Four basic steps. ID the mission and skill requirements.

2. Select members based on generic task- and teamwork skills

3. ID specific task- and teamwork skills.

Team Parameter: Member Distribution

1. You need very good regulation skills to manage the challenges of electronically mediated communication and coordination of work.

Misc Notes

1. Characteristics of virtual teams can neutralize specific taskwork and teamwork skills

2. Findings: DiRosa et al (2010) found that dispersion of teams does neutralize certain teamwork skills. This study had subjects peform the Moon Survival Task.

3. Circumstances of team distribution: degree of media richness, etc

“The Communicatiive (Re)Constitution of Virtual Teams”

Presenter: Stacey Connaughton, Ph.D. – Purdue University

“The Communicative” in Extant Virtual Team Research

1. Communication frequency (Jarvenpaa et al, 1998; Maznevski & Chudoba, 2000)

2. Communication spontanaiety (Hinds & Mortensen, 2005)

3. Communication predictability (Connaughton & daly, 2004)

4. Communication/information adequacy and equity (Cramton, 2003)

5. Psychologically safe communication climate (Gibson & Gibbs, 2006)

6. Socially-related messages (Weisband & Atwater, 1999)

Reflecting on the above work: how to build on it?

1. Focus on the nature of interaction – the actual interaction itself matters

2. “The communicative” / communication is a social process. Can’t be understood in isolation. Need to examine (empirically) the communicative in relation to nature of its parties’ relationships to others.

A Research Problem

1. Geographically distributed teams often have limited opportunities for team members to meet in person and build interpersonal relationships.

Topic: The “Human Factor” of Virtual Work: Trust and Information Technology in Distributed Teams

Presenter: Anna T. Cianciolo

  1. Definition of trust – (adapted from Mayer, Davis & Schoorman, 1995) – willingness to be vulnerable to the actions of an object of trust (trustee) … in the absence of external controls and /or direct visibility on those actions
  2. Trustee behavior and trustor characteristics –> judgement — > action
  3. But Personal & situational factors also influence action. Need to understand the person-environment interaction and its implications.
  4. Measuring trust. Goal: account for the imperfect relation between affect and behavior while proposing a statistically tractable model.
  5. Affect: judgements of trustworthiness. Critical cues: represented, character, dependability.
  6. Behavior: action taken to mitigate risk. Risk managment = attempts to gain visibility and/or control.
  7. Distributed teams. Geographically dispersed. Technology mediated. Complex work problems. Horizontal structure / separation of power (different reporting structures). Diverse ethnically.
  8. Suggestions for fostering the trust process (calibrated trust) in distributed teams.

Topic:Leveraging Technology and Diversity For Team Performance: The Role of Variety, Disparity, Virtuality and Knowledge Sharing

Presenter: David Harrison – Pennsylvania State University

Research: by David Harrison and Ravi Gajendra (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

  1. Knowledge sharing (KS) critical team process.
  2. FtF (face to face) only teams are rare. Most teams are primarily hybrid, collocated teams.
  3. Evidence from the past that shows knowledge sharing has an effect on performance. “Not a very risky hypothesis.”
  4. Results: Perceived variety of teams have a positive relationship to knowledge sharing.  Suggests that teams need to be aware of the differences between members. Having latent distribution of variety in the team is not enough. It needs to be uncovered to have an effect.
  5. Result: Disparity in leadership status and self-status had a negative effect on knowledge sharing.
  6. Result: Ftf communication and Virtual communication both had a positive relationship with knowledge sharing.
  7. Result: knowledge sharing had a positive relationship with performance.
  8. Result: no support for moderating effects on knowledge sharing.


One response to “Virtual Teams in a Global Environment

  1. Great blog. Your body is kinda going to “crud”. lol Click

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s