Group Style Differences Between Virtual and F2F Teams by qfc10548

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									Group Style Differences Between Virtual and F2F Teams

Leonard Branson, University of Illinois at Springfield
Thomas S. Clausen, University of Illinois at Springfield
Chung-Hsein Sung, University of Illinois at Springfield



Abstract
Face-to-face (F2F) teams form and function differently than computer-medi-
ated (virtual) teams. The social processes associated with effective team work are
different in F2F and virtual teams. These differences affect the ability of groups
of people to successfully form a team that can function effectively. This study
found that computer-mediated teams differ significantly from F2F teams along
important group style dimensions as measured by the Group Style Inventory
(GSI).

Keywords: teams, virtual, co-located



Introduction                                  This study investigates the differ-    pared to the F2F teams, where more
   In recent years, there has been         ences in group styles between virtual     team-wide collective behaviors and
a growing interest in understanding        and face-to-face (F2F) teams. We hy-      information exchange were observed.
the behaviors of computer-medi-            pothesize that virtual teams will form    He concluded that greater team-wide
ated (virtual) teams and factors that      and function differently than F2F         collective behaviors gave rise to im-
impact their effectiveness. Due to         teams. The group styles that form in      proved information sharing activities
advancements in computer technol-          virtual and F2F teams are evaluated       among F2F team members.
ogy and the Internet, as well as the       by using the Group Style Inventory           Jarvenpaa and Leidner (1999) ex-
increasing need for collaboration be-      (Cooke and Szumal 1994). This study       amined the challenges of creating
tween and within companies, the use        found that the type of team (virtual      and maintaining trust in a global vir-
of virtual teams is on the rise. It is     versus F2F) has a systematic effect on    tual team. The authors reported on a
increasingly clear that computer-me-       the group style.                          series of descriptive case studies on
diated communication systematically                                                  global virtual teams that worked on
and significantly impacts the social-      Literature Review                         a common collaborative project with
ization processes necessary for effec-        Andres (2006) studied the impact       computer-mediated communication
tive teaming. Social and interper-         of communication medium on vir-           and whose members were separated
sonal cues that provide the basis for      tual group processes. His study in-       by location and culture. The authors
social intelligence are either absent      vestigated the hypotheses that team       conclude that trust can exist in teams
or are hard to detect in a virtual en-     structure and communication mode          built solely on an electronic network.
vironment. Having adequate social          would impact the evolution of virtual        Schmidt, Montoya-Weiss and
intelligence is a necessary, but not a     group processes. The author studied       Massey (2001) compare individuals,
sufficient condition for the establish-    the behavior of software development      F2F teams and virtual teams in the
ment and maintenance of healthy            teams. The teams developed detailed       area of new product development ef-
relationships. Working in a virtual        design documentation for specified        fectiveness. Two experiments exam-
environment tends to deny us the           enhancements to a hypothetical uni-       ined the effectiveness of new product
social cues that we use to interpret       versity information system working in     development project continuation
our social context, practice appropri-     F2F or videoconference settings. The      decisions. The first study compared
ate self-monitoring, and accurately        research indicated the videoconfer-       individual versus F2F decision-mak-
gauge the impact our actions are hav-      ence teams exhibited more subgroup        ing effectiveness. The second study
ing on others.                             information exchange when com-            compared the decision-making effec-



                                                                                                Spring 2008 • Vol. 23, No. 1   65
Branson, Clausen and Sung
tiveness of individuals, F2F teams and   Cooke and Szumal (1994) devel-             der correlation and t-test statistical
virtual teams. They concluded that       oped the Group Style Inventory and         methods and reached the conclusion
teams make more effective decisions      categorized group styles as construc-      that virtual teams exhibit the distinc-
than individuals, and virtual teams      tive, passive/defensive, or aggressive/    tive group interactive styles found in
made the most effective decisions.       defensive. Constructive styles exist       traditional F2F teams. However, few
   Branson, Moe and Sung (2005)          when team members are trying to            studies have examined the differences
found that virtual teams process less    satisfy their higher order needs (need     in group styles found in virtual teams
information than individuals when        for affiliation and achievement). The      and F2F teams. This study examines
engaged in decision making. It ap-       constructive style taps the full poten-    the group style differences between
pears that F2F teams often use more      tial of group members and produces         F2F and virtual teams by using the
information and make better deci-        effective solutions. It also enables       Cooke and Lafferty Group Styles In-
sions than individuals, while virtual    group members to fulfill both needs        ventory (GSI) to measure and com-
teams use less information than in-      for personal achievement as well as        pare the structure and social processes
dividuals or F2F teams (Branson,         needs for affiliation, allowing the full   of virtual and F2F teams.
Sung, Decker, He 2005; Coopman           potential of group members to be re-          The GSI measures twelve dimen-
2001). Virtual teams spend more          alized while facilitating effective so-    sions of group styles, which collapse
time managing the team processes         lutions by group consensus. Passive/       into the three group styles: construc-
and less time in processing informa-     defensive groups behave in ways that       tive, passive/defensive, and aggres-
tion and decision making, even when      fulfill their security needs by placing    sive/defensive. The central question of
the task is a decision-making task.      greater emphasis on fulfillment of         this study is “does team type (virtual
Branson et al. (2005) found that F2F     affiliation goals only. They are inter-    versus F2F) systematically and sig-
teams processed more information         ested in maintaining harmony in the        nificantly effect how teams form and
than individuals, and that individu-     group, and accept limited information      function, as measured by the Group
als processed more information than      sharing, questioning and impartiality.     Style Inventory?” Consequently our
virtual teams when making a perfor-      The passive/defensive style team will      hypotheses are:
mance appraisal decision.                accept less than optimal solutions.
   Alge, Wiethoff and Klein (2003)       Team members will accept decisions         H1:      There will be no difference
examined whether temporality - the       which have not benefited from con-                  in the group styles of virtual
extent to which teams have a past        structive differing, creative thinking              and F2F teams.
or expect to have a future together      and individual initiative. Aggressive/
                                                                                    H1. A: F2F teams will be higher on
– affects F2F and virtual teams’ abil-   defensive groups are characterized by
                                                                                           the constructive styles than the
ity to communicate effectively and       competition, criticism, interruptions
                                                                                           virtual teams.
make high quality decisions. For         and overt impatience (Cooke and
teams lacking a history, results in-     Lafferty 2003). The aggressive/de-         H1. B: Virtual teams will be higher on
dicate that media exacerbates differ-    fensive style emerges when members                the passive defensive/styles
ences. F2F teams exhibited higher        approach the problem in ways in-                  than the F2F teams.
openness and information exchange        tended to help them maintain their
than virtual teams.                      status/position and fulfill their need     H1. C: Virtual teams will be higher
   Warkentin and Beranek (1999)          for security by task related activities.          on the aggressive/defensive
discussed the effect of communica-       Aggressive/defensive groups are con-              styles than the F2F teams.
tion training on virtual group in-       cerned with their need for power and
teractions, especially for enhancing     need for control.                              Social intelligence literature indi-
rational links and thereby improv-           The majority of Cook and Szum-         cates that multiple cues are necessary
ing communication and informa-           al’s research was based on F2F teams.      for accurate social perception, and
tion exchange in virtual teams. They     Potter and Balthazard (2002) ex-           these cues have a critical influence
concluded that teams that were given     panded Cook and Szumal’s work              on explicit categorization judgments
appropriate training exhibited im-       by investigating virtual teams using       (Kubota and Ito 2007). The social
proved perceptions of the interaction    group styles inventory techniques to       perception and cognitive psychology
process over time, specifically with     determine whether factors that drive       literature indicate that once a catego-
regard to trust, commitment and          conventional team performance exist        rization judgment is formed, it di-
frank expression.                        in virtual teams. The authors exam-        rects future perceptions, information
   Successful teaming requires effec-    ined the decision process and per-         gathering, information storage, and
tive socialization processes. In order   formance styles of 42 virtual teams        decision-making (Krzystofiak, Cardy,
to assess the socialization processes,   and analyzed the data using zero-or-       Newman 1988). Relying exclusively


66    Spring 2008 • Vol. 23, No. 1
                                                                                                  Branson, Clausen and Sung
on text messages denies team members           Not surprisingly, teams will form        employed 11.4; 64.5 percent were fe-
the additional cues of voice, facial ex-    and function differently based on the       male; 24 percent were post bachelors
pression, body language and personal        assigned task. Because task type can        level, with 4.6 percent holding ter-
demeanor. Similarly, the virtual team       systematically affect the form and the      minal degrees (PhD, JD, MD). The
environment is not good at conveying        function of a team, this study con-         subjects were mostly night students
confirmatory communications like a          trolled the effect of task type by hold-    pursuing professional development.
smile to accompany a sarcastic com-         ing the task constant. Holding the          All the subjects had extensive expe-
                                                                                        rience in team work, and most used
                                                                                        virtual teaming in their current jobs.
“…F2F teams should be more likely to form                                               There were no significant differences
                                                                                        in the demographics of the two types
constructive teams than virtual teams.”                                                 of teams.

ment. The computer mediated team is         task constant allows us to more fully       Results
not well suited for conveying unam-         understand the effect of team type             In order to determine if there is a
biguous messages and verifying mean-        (F2F versus virtual) on how the teams       systematic style difference between
ing through other communication             formed and functioned. All teams in         the two groups (virtual and F2F
cues (Haythornthwaite and Neilson           this study were assigned an intellec-       teams), we conducted a t-test on the
2007). Virtual teams that are depen-        tual/analytical task. In this study, each   twelve group style indicators of the
dent on computer mediated commu-            team member was provided with a             GSI for the thirty-two virtual and the
nication have fewer social cues to use      business case with financial and non-       thirty F2F teams. The results are pre-
in social intelligence gathering, build-    financial information related to the        sented in table 1.
ing trust, close friendships, or complex    performance of eight organizational            The means are significantly differ-
relationships. F2F teams have more          units. Each team member was asked           ent between virtual and F2F teams
social cues to use in social intelligence   to prepare an individual performance        in the constructive style group; the
processes, and should be more likely        appraisal of the manager of each of         self-actualizing, humanistic-encour-
to establish trust, and productive so-      the eight organizational units. Subse-      aging, and the affiliative dimensions.
cial relationships. Consequently, F2F       quently, each team was asked to pre-        The mean scores for constructive
teams should be more likely to form         pare a team performance appraisal of        style: self-actualizing, humanistic-
constructive teams than virtual teams.      each unit manager. Members of each          encouraging, and affiliative dimen-
While all teams can have character-         team had the same data, but the data        sions were significantly (at the .05
istics of all three types of teams, they    was systematically manipulated be-          level) higher for the F2F teams. The
will tend to have a dominant style.         tween teams to investigate the type         achievement oriented dimension was
                                            and amount of information included          higher for the F2F team, but the dif-
Methodology                                 in the decision process of individuals,     ference was not statistically signifi-
   Task type can have a systematic          F2F teams and virtual teams (Bran-          cant. While virtual teams did score
effect on team formation and func-          son et al. 2005). Each team completed       higher on the passive/defensive style,
tioning. Driskell, Radtke, and Salas        the GSI to investigate whether teams        the differences in the scores were not
(2003) developed a task classification      differed systematically based on team       statistically significant. All the other
system which used six basic catego-         type (F2F versus virtual).                  styles and dimensions did not have
ries: (1) mechanical/technical tasks,          The GSI was administered to six-         significantly different means (at the
requiring the construction or opera-        ty-two teams of students (with 3-4          .05 level).
tion of things; (2) intellectual/analytic   members) at a major Midwestern uni-            An analysis of covariance was con-
tasks, requiring generation of ideas,       versity. Thirty of the teams were F2F       ducted to see if team type (virtual or
reasoning, or problem solving; (3)          teams and thirty-two of the teams           F2F) or any of the demographic vari-
imaginative/aesthetic tasks, requir-        were virtual teams. The virtual teams       ables had a significant effect on the
ing creativity or artistic endeavor; (4)    did all their work using Blackboard         group style. Results indicate that team
social tasks, requiring training, sup-      and other virtual tools such as e-mail,     type had a significant (at the .05 level)
porting, or assisting others; (5) ma-       fax, and telephone. The members of          impact on the achievement-oriented,
nipulative/persuasive tasks, requiring      the virtual teams were on different         humanistic-encouraging and affilia-
motivation or persuasion of others;         campuses of the university, did not         tive dimensions of the constructive
and (6) logical/precision tasks, requir-    know each other, and were not able to       style. Team age (average age of team
ing performance of routine, detailed,       meet in person. The average age of the      members) had a significant (at the
or standardized tasks.                      subjects was 31.6 years; average years      .05 level) effect on the “conventional”


                                                                                                    Spring 2008 • Vol. 23, No. 1   67
Branson, Clausen and Sung

dimension, which tends to have high
pressure to conform and team mem-                                              Table 1
bers who think alike, avoid innovative        Group Style Inventory Differences Between Virtual and Face-to-Face Teams
or creative ideas, and make poor de-
cisions. Team gender (all male, all fe-
male, or mixed gender) had no signifi-                                                  Mean ( ± Standard Error)
cant effect on any of the twelve group      Style/Dimensions                                                                P-Value
                                                                                    Face-to-Face          Virtual
dimensions. All other demographic           CONSTRUCTIVE STYLE                     76.46 (±1.6767)    70.20 (±1.5196)       0.0008*
variables had no significant effect on
                                                Achievement-oriented (11)          18.73 (±0.4465)       16.51 (±0.4439)    0.3597
group style.
                                               Self-actualizing (12)               17.79 (±0.5705)        17.12 (±0.4677)   0.0074*
Conclusions                                    Humanistic-Encouraging (1)          19.55 (±0.4453)       18.02 (±0.4580)    0.0203*
   Our results indicate that F2F               Affiliative (2)                    20.39 (±0.4008)        18.55 (±0.3982)    0.0018*
teams have significantly higher scores      PASSIVE/DEFENSIVE STYLE                15.58 (±0.9493)       16.21 (±1.1696)    0.6807
on the constructive style. F2F teams           Approval oriented (3)                3.74 (±0.3787)        3.10 (±0.2933)    0.1833
scored significantly higher on:
                                               Conventional (4)                     6.12 (±0.2625)        5.74 (±0.2971)    0.3477
1. Self actuating members are op-              Dependent (5)                        2.95 (±0.3618)        4.03 (±0.5242)    0.0977
   timistic and interested, will offer         Avoidance (6)                        2.77 (±0.4036)        3.30 (±0.3971)    0.3555
   any idea without worry, will en-
                                            AGGRESSIVE/DEFENSIVE                    9.55 (±0.7650)        9.14 (±1.3702)    0.7954
   courage new ideas and unusual
   perspectives. Solutions tend to be          Oppositional (7)                     3.30 (±0.2886)        2.76 (±0.4138)    0.2874
   innovative, creative and of high            Power-oriented (8)                   2.21 (±0.2630)        3.14 (±0.4837)    0.0998
   quality.                                    Competitive (9)                      1.19 (±0.1725)         1.01 (±0.2900)   0.6045
2. Humanistic-encouraging mem-                 Perfectionist (10)                   2.85 (±0.2780)        2.23 (±0.4180)    0.2256
   bers are sensitive, supportive of
   other members; are generally            * indicates significance at 0.05 level in means of F2F and virtual teams.
   constructive; are interested in the
   growth and development of fellow
   group members; provide each oth-       formation in a decision as individuals             ing in a state of deindividualization,
   er support and assistance; are able    or F2F teams. Virtual teams appear to              reduced evaluation concern, and a
   to build on the suggestions/ideas      form in a way that makes good group                more impersonal and task-oriented
   of other team members; and reach       decision making difficult. As a result,            attentional focus. Virtual team mem-
   high quality decisions                 they are more concerned about issues               bers interact more superficially and
                                          other than making good decisions. For              share fewer cues with team members,
3. Affiliative emphasis is placed on      example, teams make suboptimal de-                 both of which make it more difficult
   interpersonal relationships; mem-      cisions when team members are more                 for them to develop an interest in
   bers treat each other well, com-       concerned about maintaining position               the growth and development of team
   municate openly and like to work       and power than pooling information                 members, to build on the ideas and
   together. Solutions are not always     and developing more comprehensive                  suggestions of fellow team members,
   the best, but team members sup-        models of the problem that can then                and to build positive constructive rela-
   port the team decisions.               activate new knowledge.                            tionships with team members. Virtual
                                             Virtual groups are physically iso-              team members have a much harder
   Virtual teams scored higher on the     lated and visually anonymous. Mem-                 time building a trusting relationship
passive/defensive, dependent, avoid-      bers of virtual teams have a reduced               with team members. Not only is com-
ance, and power-oriented dimen-           set of social cues with which to con-              munication less complete and satisfy-
sions, where group processes prevent      trol the effect of stereotyping on their           ing for virtual teams, but the building
effective teaming and lead to inferior    relationship management. Research                  of trusting relationships is more infre-
decisions. Virtual teams are less able    conducted by Benbunan-Fich, Hiltz,                 quent. Without good communication
to minimize the negative effects of       and Turoff (2002) supports the idea                and trust, it is difficult for any team
teaming on good decision making.          that anonymity increases uninhibited,              to function effectively. Virtual teams
Branson, Moe and Sung (2005) and          hostile behavior and extreme decision              have to be conscious of the problems
Branson et al. (2005) found that vir-     making. These effects are due to the               associated with the lack of communi-
tual teams do not process as much in-     absence of interpersonal cues, result-             cation in a virtual team, and members


68     Spring 2008 • Vol. 23, No. 1
                                                                                                     Branson, Clausen and Sung
have to make a special effort to com-      formation and often resort to behav-          Branson, L., C. Sung, J. Decker, and F. He.
municate effectively. Virtual teams        ing in less than socially intelligent             2005. An empirical investigation of the
can form trusting relationships, but it    ways. As a result, it appears that virtual        role of accounting outcome information
takes extra effort and skill to do so.     team members tend to behave in ways               and collocated and virtual team process-
    Methods to enhance team interac-       that are more consistent with pas-                es on decision making. Paper presented
tion should be developed. The missing      sive/defensive or aggressive/defensive            at American Academy of Accounting
social cues from F2F interaction may       behaviors. These behaviors can have               and Finance, 10 December, in St. Pete
be included. The internet has provid-      a significant impact on team perfor-              Beach, Florida.
ed enhanced communication through          mance on a decision-making task. A            Cooke, R. and J. C. Lafferty. 2003. Group
the use of smiley faces (J) and other      limitation of this study is the result of         Style Inventory. Chicago: Human Syn-
emoticons. While these are not the         using only intellectual/analytic tasks.           ergistics, Inc.
same as the visual cues present in F2F     The results are not generalizable to          Cooke, R. A. and J. L. Szumal. 1994. The
interaction, the emoticons can give        other types of tasks.                             impact of group interactions styles on
clues to an individual’s meaning and          This research provides empiri-                 problem-solving effectiveness. Journal of
intentions as he interacts in a virtual    cal evidence that for virtual teams to            Applied Behavioral Science 30: 415-437.
environment. These additions to vir-       be as effective as F2F teams, people          Coopman, S. J. 2001. Democracy, perfor-
tual interaction take additional effort    who work on virtual teams will have               mance, and outcomes in interdisciplin-
on the sender’s part, but may enhance      to learn more about the limitations               ary health care teams. Journal of Business
the communication. Additional ways         and problems with virtual teaming,                Communication 38: 261-284.
to enhance virtual communication           and develop effective strategies to           Driskell, J. E., P. H. Radtke, and E. Salas.
should be investigated.                    overcome these limitations. Effec-                2003. Virtual teams: Effects of technol-
    Our conclusion is that virtual teams   tive communication that allows team               ogy mediation on team performance.
have problems of both form and func-       members to collect important social               Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, Prac-
tion that are the result of their “vir-    intelligence is an important part of              tice 7: 297-323.
tual” nature. The virtual teams in this    the solution. Technology has evolved          Haythornthwaite, C. and A. Nielsen. 2007.
study scored significantly lower on        faster than human sociology. We are               “Revisiting Computer-Mediated Com-
the constructive style than the F2F        on a new frontier of human relation-              munication for Work, Community and
teams. The consequences of this find-      ships, and it will take time to learn             Learning: Intrapersonal, Interpersonal
ing are that virtual teams are less able   how to successfully relate to and work            and Transpersonal Implications.” In
to achieve the positive results possible   with other people in these new and                Psychology and the Internet. 2nd ed., ed.
in group decision-making perfor-           rapidly changing technological envi-              Jayne Gackenbach, 167-185. Elsevier
mance. Our results indicate that F2F       ronments.                                         Inc.
teams score higher on the self-actual-                                                   Jarvenpaa, S. and D. E. Leidner. 1999. Com-
izing style, which has members who         Reference                                         munication and trust in global virtual
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                                                                                                      Spring 2008 • Vol. 23, No. 1   69
Branson, Clausen and Sung
   Comparing individuals, face-to-face
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  About the Authors
  Leonard Branson is Professor and Chair
  of Accountancy at the University of Il-
  linois at Springfield. One of his streams
  of research focuses on decision making
  by individuals and groups.

  Thomas S. Clausen is Assistant Profes-
  sor of Accountancy at the University
  of Illinois at Springfield. His research
  focuses on Accounting Information Sys-
  tems and Managerial Accounting topics.

  Chung-Hsien Sung is Associate Profes-
  sor of Mathematical Sciences at the Uni-
  versity of Illinois at Springfield. He has a
  wide range of research interests.




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