Accidents on the digital highway. A qualitative research on conflict dynamics in Virtual Teams when technology-mediated ways of communication are in use

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Due to technologic changes, today’s society requests new forms of organizing. One specific new form of organizing is Virtual Teams. Although academic research has proven the benefits of Virtual Teams, little is known about the challenges of working in a Virtual Team. More specific, Virtual Teams are vulnerable to conflicts, because team members have limited opportunities to talk face-to-face and therefore rely entirely on Technology-Mediated Communication. This qualitative study found that the choice for communication tools is dependent on two features of Technology-Mediated Communication: emotionality and velocity. Second, Technology-Mediated Communication influences the nature of conflicts, because it changes the specificity, directness, duration, depth of background information, and the representation of text and voice. Finally, this study adds two insights to our understanding of the role of Technology-Mediated Communication in time-related dynamics: informality and assumptions/stereotypes. In a Virtual Team, there are limited opportunities to address the conflict in an informal setting. This results in conflicts with a longer time span. Besides, Virtual Team members do not know their team members well enough and therefore they create assumptions and stereotypes.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen