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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 3: The Delta Case Study

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


There is a world of difference between making a decision alone and making a group decision. The unique chemistry of social interaction can distil the best each member has to offer, creating a resonance of ideas and a synthesis of viewpoints. A different chemistry can stop the reaction and contaminate the product. The catalyst for such social chemistry is communication. It is the medium for the coordination and control of group activities, member socialization, group integration, and conflict management, among other functions. (Poole and Hirokawa 1996: 3) 3.1 INTRODUCTION This part of the book explores the communication patterns developing in a geographically dispersed (or virtual) team. The team being studied here evolved as an international group of researchers who sought to submit a European Union research proposal. For their communication, the members of this group used electronic communication (personal e-mail, mailing list), but they met face to face when important decisions had to be made. A description of the group’s communication processes – patterns and developments in the use of electronic mail; the changeover between electronic and face-to-face communication, seamless in many respects – will allow us to address the question whether and how electronic communication can be ‘rich’, and how this relates to media richness (see Rasters et al., 2002). We will describe the history (mainly the start-up phase) of a virtual team consisting of researchers from several European countries who engaged in the process of writing a joint research proposal, first virtually (e-mail and mailing list...

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