The Communication Characteristics of Virtual Teams: A Case Study
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Organizations are encountering novel external environments requiring flexible structures. A number of organizations have used virtual teams to provide the customer responsiveness, human resource flexibility, and speed in project completion these environments demand. Virtual teams create significant communication challenges for its leaders and members. This research analyzed the communication technologies that the Customer Support Virtual Team (CST) of International Consulting Systems (ICS), the pseudonym for a Fortune 500 organization, uses to support team interaction, the degree to which ICS systems and culture supported CST, and finally, the CST members’ mindset toward communication and the methods its leader used to create the trust required for effective team interaction. Interviews revealed that ICS mission, strategy, tasks, reward systems, and attitudes toward technology supported virtual team structure. CST members were provided a suite of robust technologies to facilitate interaction; however, they relied heavily on voice mail and a large number of team, project, and organizational databases supported by Lotus Notes to generate a common language that facilitated task completion. CST members saw communication, particularly media choice, as a strategic activity that had to be planned daily. Finally, to build and maintain team trust, the CST leader used a face-to-face, three-day project kickoff, a mentoring program, and an ICS culture that promoted information sharing, team-based rewards, and employee development.
IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, 44, 3, pp.174-187, 2001.
RightsThis publication is a work of the U.S. Government as defined in Title 17, United States Code, Section 101. Copyright protection is not available for this work in the United States.
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