Virtual Team Collaboration

A Review of Literature and Perspectives

Summary by Carina…

A VT is a group of people with complementary competencies who may be geographically and temporally dispersed, communicate via information technologies, and execute simultaneous and collaborative work processes in order to accomplish a common objective.

Why? Knowledge formalization.

Technology Perspective

Deals with the problem of selecting the right online tool for mediating online collaboration to achieve highest task performance. 3 criteria on medium selection:

  1. Media richness theory: the type of information shared and the task realized should fit; it therefore explores the fit between the information provided by the mediating technology and the task to accomplish by classifying technologies in terms of their
    1. capacity (use of different languages, such as written, oral, and corporal)
    2. enable a certain level of personalization
    3. support exchange through different communication channels
  2. Media synchronicity: a connection between the task and the way the information is changed is established; To which extent do team members share focus? With increasing focus they work more together on the same task at the same time. A comunication medium entails two processes and five capabilities:
    1. Processes
      1. conveyance (Übermittlung): entails the propagation of knowledge and helps understanding the situation
      2. convergance (Annäherung): understanding individual interpretations on pieces of knowledge and coming up with a common explanation shared by everyone
    2. Capabilities
      1. symbol variety: possibilities of representing and codeifying knowledge
      2. parallelism: possibility to conduct diverse conversations simultaneously
      3. feedback: the capacity to provide fast bidirectional communication
      4. rehearsability: possibility to reformulate a message while creating it
      5. reprocessability: ability to retreat previously shared messages

    Different interactions that take place in VT collaboration can follow the time, interaction and performace (TIP) theory.

  3. Knowledge management: a relationship is established between the task and the way the information shared is structured. Different strategies:
    1. codification
    2. personalization

    There is a different strategy and different IT in use depending on the task/purpose/capacity structuring information

Managerial Perspective

Transformational leadership aims at motivating team members by showing her consideration for individuals and providing intellectual support.

3 dimensions of leadership

  1. leader as organizer: coordinator role by planning and allocating the work across team members and clearly defining the role of everyone. Leader should set goals, provide deadlines and select team members.
  2. leader as trust and cohesion builder: building a social presence and developing interpersonal relations; support transmitting socio-relational knowledge, cohesion and trust; care less about control and more about developing interpersonal relations.
  3. context-dependent leadership
    1. emergent: assume the leader role through time in an unplanned manner; relates to the individual’s competencies as well as the modularity of the project. Has three roles
      1. initiator
      2. planner
      3. integrator
    2. shared: power and influence is distributed across a group of people; rotation and allocation of leadership can increase efficiency by optimally benefiting from the expertise dispersed across team members.

Leadership has 3 dimensions

  1. Provide structure by organizing tasks across the team, sets goals, and deadlines.
  2. Promote the development of interpersonal ties and trust across people.
  3. Either attributed to a single person, allocated across a group of individuals or carried out through rotation.

Proposal of a theoretical framework

Efficient Collaboration


  1. Team characteristics
    1. degree of virtuality (the more virtual, the more structure is needed)
    2. task complexity (high complexity > need to conduct collaboration through synchronous and intensive session increases)
    3. team size (increasing team size implies less use of rich media)
    4. team history (life span amount VT members increases > anonymity decreases and group identity gets more powerful)
  2. Knowledge sharing characteristics
    1. Create a knowledge sharing culture
    2. Create familiarity by using technologies mediating knowledge sharing

Collaboration style

  1. Medium of collaboration: Should conform to the needs of knowledge sharing preferred by the VT and be capable of delivering different forms of information (e.g. written, oral, and corporal) at the right time with the desired structure.
  2. Managerial approach/style: Provided with a structure by guiding VT members in the use of technologies; managers also promote trust building and group cohesion.

Efficient collaboration

e.g. efficiency, effectiveness, productivity

3 levels

  1. individual level: outcome entails the fulfillment of participants’ expectations (e.g. enjoyment, reputation, learning)
  2. group/team level: is the team content as a whole for having worked together and would it consider another assignment in the future
  3. firm level: considers gains that have the potential to increase financials of the firm (e.g. labor productivity, higher quality products that improve sales)



Karoui, M., Gürkan, A. & Dudezert, A. (2010): Virtual Team Collaboration: A Review of Literature and Perspectives. Proceedings of the Sixteenth Americas Conference on Information Systems, Lima, Peru.

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One comment on “Virtual Team Collaboration

  1. Pingback: Master’s Program | Sebastian Kaiser

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