Assessing Degree Of Virtuality And Its Impact On Team Effectiveness
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Type of WorkText
DepartmentBusiness and Management
ProgramDoctor of Philosophy
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The use of virtual teams is widespread and growing in importance. Yet, our knowledge about virtual teams has lagged behind their use. In research, virtual teams have often been treated as undifferentiated entities, resulting in a lack of comparability between studies, inconsistent findings, and an inability to replicate findings. Furthermore, virtuality is often operationalized as a one-dimensional dichotomous construct. Virtual team effectiveness models have been limited by the exclusion of virtuality as a construct and the lack of empirical testing. I argue that the virtual versus face-to-face team dichotomy is a false dichotomy; rather, teams are more or less virtual. This study defines virtuality as the degree of distance a team experiences, using Ghemawat's C.A.G.E. framework to identify four dimensions of distance: cultural, administrative, geographic, and economic. Virtuality is operationalized as a multidimensional continuous construct. Further, a model of virtual team effectiveness is proposed and is empirically tested. This complex, open systems model posits that all the dimensions of virtuality negatively impact team effectiveness. However, if sociotechnical systems are optimized, they may moderate the negative effects of virtuality, whereas, environmental turbulence may exacerbate the negative effects of virtuality. The virtual team effectiveness model was evaluated via a cross-sectional study of existing teams in organizations. I found some support for the idea that virtuality is a multi-dimensional construct comprised of four independent dimensions. Further, there was some evidence which supported the hypotheses that cultural, administrative, and economic distance are negatively related to team effectiveness. Some evidence substantiated the moderating effect of optimized sociotechnical systems on the virtuality-effectiveness relationship. Significant evidence was found for the moderating effects of environmental turbulence on the virtuality-effectiveness relationship. A significant relationship was found between organizational context, team size, some dimensions of virtuality, optimized sociotechnical systems, environmental turbulence, and team viability. The value of a more precise approach to conceptualizing virtuality was illustrated. This study provides a more comprehensive conceptualization and definition of virtuality and virtual teams and a comprehensive theoretical explanation for a sociotechnical systems model of team effectiveness. The definitions, conceptualizations, and theoretical support developed here may help make future research more productive.