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In Mixed Company Chapter Eleven Technology and Virtual Groups.

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1 In Mixed Company Chapter Eleven Technology and Virtual Groups

2 Time and Space Communication competence becomes a significant challenge. The absence of nonverbal cues that we all depend on for helping determine meaning of messages is a substantial limitation of text-only and voice-only virtual groups.

3 Social Relationships Virtual groups seem to require more time than face-to-face groups to develop positive social relationships and cohesiveness.

4 Power Distance There are two types of status characteristics that are hidden from text- only communication –Physical characteristics such as gender, age, etc. –Communication cues such as rate of speech and tone.

5 Conflict: Constructive and Destructive Communication filters that operate in face-to-face communication to short circuit emotional incontinence are less apparent when communicating electronically. Differences that emerge from virtual group membership that may represent several diverse cultures can also lead to misunderstandings and perceived insults. E-mail allows you to edit intemperate messages, but only if you resist firing a flame in the heat of the moment by adopting a standard practice of never responding heatedly to an e-mail until you have had time to reflect and simmer.

6 Social Anxiety Reticence to Participate Text-only group discussions encourage low-status members to participate in discussions and to stand their ground more firmly on controversial or contentious issues. In-person discussions can be intimidating especially if some participants are dominating and aggressive when expressing their points of view.

7 Social Loafing The ideal solution to social loafing is to choose virtual group members who find the group task challenging and interesting, and who all seem motivated to excel.

8 Potential Advantages and Disadvantages AdvantagesDisadvantages Distance not a problem, members across time zones Learning unfamiliar technologies Cost savings travelDecision quality jeopardized under time pressure Initial Status equalization Difficulty developing relationships Greater assertiveness from reticent members Greater likelihood of destructive conflict

9 Potential Advantages and Disadvantages AdvantagesDisadvantages Decreased social anxiety Cultural misunderstandings Settling arguments by consulting text transcripts Increased social anxiety Initial Status equalization Embarrassment from private emails becoming public transcripts

10 Choosing Media: Richness and Synchronicity Enriching the virtual group environment is especially important during the initial stages of group development. The in-person, meeting process is a high recommended during the group formation.

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