Computer Mediated Communication among Teams: What are "Teams" and how are they "Virtual"?

From USENET to CoWebs: Interacting with Virtual Communities and Information Spaces


This chapter is concerned with computer-mediated communication among virtual teams. A focus on social factors in small-group interaction is required to adequately answer the question: what is a "virtual team" and how can it be said to be "virtual?" Understanding the role of social factors in small-group interaction is important since governments and corporations around the world are increasing their reliance on information technology as a surrogate for face-to-face interaction among distributed teams. Work in this area is particularly timely since, as "virtual teaming" has been on the rise, research in small groups has declined (Gladstein, 1984; Ilgen, 1999). A survey of social science research on small groups will conceivably help software designers design "group friendly" electronic environments for virtual teams. It is the first step towards knowing, for example, when a 3D rendered virtual collaboration environment would better support collaboration than email, a conference call, or a face-to-face meeting. It is anticipated that work in this area will also inform management on the social-psychological impacts of distance on small group collaboration.

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