Date of Award

2000

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Information Systems and Decision Sciences (Business Administration)

First Advisor

Blake Ives

Abstract

Information Technology is providing the backbone for development of new organizational forms. Virtual teams represent one such organizational form that has the potential to change the workplace and provide organizations with increased levels of flexibility and responsiveness. Many organizations are recognizing these potential benefits and are implementing virtual teams. A gap exists in the current Information Systems literature. No previous study has looked at the role of managerial control mechanisms in fostering virtual team effectiveness. This study contributes a model of virtual team effectiveness based on an extension of research in traditional environments. The contribution of managerial behavior control practices to virtual team effectiveness is evaluated through a field experiment juxtaposing self-directed teams with virtual teams where managerial behavior control is enforced. Two hundred and one graduate and undergraduate students enrolled in six geographically dispersed universities participated in the experiment. Fifty-one teams of three and four students worked together over an eight weeks period and completed two team projects. During completion of the main project, lasting five weeks, half of the teams were required to comply with a weekly reporting schedule while the others were allowed to self-direct. Team effectiveness was measured in terms of team performance, individual psychosocial outcomes and team member viability. The results indicate that the managerial behavior control mechanism used had no effect on team performance and team member viability. Moreover, the findings indicate that behavior control had a negative effect on individual psychosocial outcomes. Post hoc qualitative research based on the case study method suggests that the exclusive reliance on computer mediated communication, and the challenges to effective team coordination and communication posed by the virtual environment, made it difficult for the managed teams to faithfully appropriate the required reporting structure. Furthermore, the weekly progress reports created an environment were trust was easily breached. These results suggest that simply adopting traditional control mechanisms in virtual teams may prove unsuccessful and even detrimental. They also indicate that managerial behavior control mechanisms may not be suited to the virtual environment. Based on the research findings, implications for research and practice are drawn.

ISBN

9780599906181

Pages

247

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