Teamwork in Computer-Mediated-Communication
4. 4.1 The Advance case study INTRODUCTION Many studies have addressed the diﬀerences between face-to-face and computer-mediated communication (CMC), often informed by media richness theory (MRT)’s claim that face-to-face communication is necessary if tasks are complex and information is equivocal. And even today, the widespread conviction is that CMC, viewed as (a collection of) lean communication media, may be adequate if and only if tasks are simple and information is unambiguous. The Delta study, presented in the previous chapter, examined the reliability of the MRT claim in the real-life setting of a geographically dispersed group of scientists who prepared a joint research proposal. The Delta study as such is one of the ﬁrst studies to compare face-to-face communication in a real-life setting; most previous studies tended to rely on experiments only. In that setting, the claim was implausible. Allegedly poor communication media such as e-mail and mailing lists were found to enable rich communication, including exchanging ambiguous information, deﬁning and allocating fairly complex tasks and expressing a range of emotions. In all these respects, the diﬀerence between virtual and face-to-face communication was less obvious than predicted by MRT. Thus, it was argued, ‘inherent characteristics’ of the communication media used cannot account for the way communication between non-collocated individuals or groups unfolds, which once again directs attention to the conditions and circumstances that may contribute to smooth, eﬃcient and satisfactory communication at a distance. The case study presented in this chapter will highlight the impact of...
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