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Communication and Cooperation in the Virtual Workplace

Teamwork in Computer-Mediated-Communication

Gaby Sadowski-Rasters, Geert Duysters and Bert M. Sadowski

This innovative book explores the structure, growth and effectiveness of virtual communities in computer-mediated environments. In spite of initial enthusiasm, much uncertainty remains about the prospects of virtual teams and the technology that supports their collaboration. This book seeks to confront these issues and offers a unique insight into the realities of virtual working.
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Chapter 1: The Prospects of Virtual Teamwork: A Theoretical Discussion

Gaby Sadowski-Rasters, Geert Duysters and Bert M. Sadowski


Differences in local physical context, time zones, culture and language all persist despite the use of distance technologies. Some distance work is possible today, but some aspects of it will remain difficult if not impossible to support even in the future. (Olson and Olson 2000: 141) Versus: When we think of team building, we often conjure up images of three-legged relay races at company picnics or long afternoons spent in dreary conference rooms. In other words, activities we do together, face-to-face. It’s time to let go of such archaic thinking because today’s virtual times call for virtual action. Waning are the days of building business relationships on a handshake across a conference table, replaced by sometimes unseen business associates clicking a mouse. Technology has expanded our scope of team building efforts. Teams are not dependent upon physical location, but upon common goals. (Lipnack and Stamps 1997: 34) 1.1 INTRODUCTION In this chapter we will discuss theories in which the eventual ‘death of distance’ is defended as well as theories positing that distance matters and will continue to do so. The discussion between proponents of both theories provides us with many factors, conditions and process descriptions that need to be examined in detail, and in real-life settings, before we are able to accept one of the positions defended. Moreover, considering the arguments given and examining actual processes of virtual communication in teams will allow us to make suggestions to researchers and practitioners in the realm of communication and...

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