Understanding and Developing Virtualcomputer-Supported Cooperative Work Teams

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Book Chapter

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computer-supported cooperative work; virtual teams; team development

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In this chapter we explore the concept of computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW), describe the issues confronted by virtualteams of distributed knowledge workers, and offer ideas for developing effective CSCW teams. Several issues are covered in this chapter. We first provide an overview of CSCW, stressing the interdisciplinary aspects of the field from both the researcher's and the practitioner's perspective. We also highlight three dimensions on which CSCW and groupware vary. After this, we discuss the characteristics and benefits of virtual teamwork. Characteristics of virtual teams include being distributed in geographic location and time, and the benefits of this type of distribution to the workers and organization include, among others, enhanced performance by means of reduction in stress, fewer distractions, and greater networks for expertise. Of course, not every aspect of virtual teamwork is positive; we include a section dealing with three of the primary challenges of virtual teams: (a) communication quality, (b) lack of awareness of others, and (c) ineffective interpersonal relationships. The next major section of the chapter deals with developing effective CSCW teams. The literature points to several strategies that can be used; these include providing sufficient time for the virtual teams to deal with the problem at hand, providing for initial kick-off meetings, allowing channels for instant communication (e.g., electronic chat or instant messaging), sufficient training of team members, and dealing with leadership issues in the virtual context. The chapter ends with some concluding remarks about the direction of modern-day CSCW teams.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Understanding and Developing Virtual Computer-Supported Cooperative Work Teams, in C. Bowers, E. Salas & F. Jentsch (Eds.), Creating High-Tech Teams: Practical Guidance on Work Performance and Technology, p. 213-242.