Virtual Team Member Performance and Viability: The Influence of Individual Characteristics
Hill, Nora Sharon
Bartol, Kathryn M
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The use of virtual teams is increasing in organizations. Virtual teamwork occurs when team members collaborate using technology-mediated communication rather than face-to-face. Research has shown that virtual teamwork can be challenging. However, currently there is little research to help organizations identify team members who are most likely to be effective in a virtual teamwork environment. Given this, the purpose of my dissertation research was to identify individual characteristics that influence a virtual team member's contribution to team performance and team membership viability. This dissertation developed and tested a theoretical model that integrates literature identifying individual team member characteristics that are directly germane to effective functioning in a team operating virtually. These characteristics include virtual teamwork knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs); self-regulatory team orientation; and preference for face-to-face communication with team members. These individual characteristics were hypothesized to influence team member contribution to team performance and membership viability through the intervening variables of virtual teamwork behaviors and attitude toward virtual teamwork with the team. In addition, team technology support and empowering team leadership were two contextual factors predicted to moderate the hypothesized relationships between team member characteristics and virtual teamwork behaviors. The hypotheses were tested using data from 193 team members in 29 virtual teams in the procurement department of one large multinational company. The data were collected from team members and team leaders using online surveys, and hierarchical linear modeling was used to analyze the data. Results showed that both virtual teamwork KSAs and self-regulatory team orientation, although not directly associated with virtual teamwork behaviors, interacted with empowering team leadership to influence virtual teamwork behaviors. Self-regulatory team orientation and preference for face-to-face communication were both found to be positively associated with attitude toward virtual teamwork. Results further showed that virtual teamwork behaviors and attitude toward virtual teamwork were both positively associated with contribution to team performance and membership viability. Finally, no support was found for the hypothesized moderating influence of team technology support on the relationship between team member characteristics and virtual teamwork behaviors.