Virtual Teams versus Face-to-Face Teams: An Exploratory Study of a Web-based Conference System*

Authors

  • Merrill E. Warkentin,

    1. College of Business Administration, 214 Hayden Hall, Northeastern University, Boston, MA 02115, email: mwarkentin@cba.neu.edu
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      Merrill E. Warkentin is an associate professor of MIS in the College of Business Administration, Northeastern University in Boston, MA. His research, primarily involving IT management, knowledge engineering, computer security, and electronic commerce, has appeared in such journals as Decision Sciences, MIS Quarterly, Expert Systems, ACM Applied Computing Review, Journal of Computer Information Systems, and The Journal of Intelligent Technologies. Dr. Warkentin has served as an associate editor and guest editor of several journals, and as a consultant to numerous companies and organizations. He has also been a featured speaker at over 100 industry association meetings and is currently a national lecturer for the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). He received his Ph.D. in MIS from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

  • Lutfus Sayeed,

    1. BACS Department, College of Business, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA 94132, email: lsayeed@sfsu.edu
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      Lutfus Sayeed is an associate professor of MIS in the College of Business Administration, San Francisco State University. His research focuses on information sharing in groups using computer-mediated communication systems, adoption/diffusion of information technology, and impact of information technology. His work has appeared in journals such as Information Systems Research, Information and Management, Computers in Human Behavior; Accounting, Management and Information Technologies, and Journal of Znformation Technology Management. He received his doctorate in business administration from Georgia State University.

  • Ross Hightower

    1. Department of Management, College of Business, Kansas State University, Calvin Hall, Manhattan, KS 66506, email: rth@business.cba.ksu.edu
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      Ross Hightower is an associate professor of MIS in the College of Business Administration, Kansas State University. His research focuses on computermediated communication and information sharing in groups as well as adoption/diffusion of technology. His work has appeared in journals such as Information Systems Research, Information and Management, Computers in Human Behavior, and Journal of Information Technology Management. He received his doctorate in business administration from Georgia State University.


  • *

    The authors wish to thank the Special Focus Editor and the reviewers for their thoughtful critique of the earlier versions of this paper. We also wish to acknowledge the contributions of the Northeastern University College of Business Administration and its staff, which provided the web server and the Meeting Web™ software used in these experiments.

ABSTRACT

Many organizations are forming “virtual teams” of geographically distributed knowledge workers to collaborate on a variety of workplace tasks. But how effective are these virtual teams compared to traditional face-to-face groups? Do they create similar teamwork and is information exchanged as effectively? An exploratory study of a World Wide Web-based asynchronous computer conference system known as Meeting Web™ is presented and discussed. It was found that teams using this computer-mediated communication system (CMCS) could not outperform traditional (face-to-face) teams under otherwise comparable circumstances. Further, relational links among team members were found to be a significant contributor to the effectiveness of information exchange. Though virtual and face-to-face teams exhibit similar levels of communication effectiveness, face-to-face team members report higher levels of satisfaction. Therefore, the paper presents steps that can be taken to improve the interaction experience of virtual teams. Finally, guidelines for creating and managing virtual teams are suggested, based on the findings of this research and other authoritative sources.

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