Wrapping Team Members’ Heads around Managing Virtual Team-Related Paradoxes

Authored by: John E. Mathieu , Jean Brittain Leslie , Margaret M. Luciano

Fields of Practice and Applied Solutions within Distributed Team Cognition

Print publication date:  September  2020
Online publication date:  September  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138626003
eBook ISBN: 9780429459542
Adobe ISBN:


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Modern-day work is often done using communication and collaboration tools that enable the staffing of teams with diverse people from across the globe in virtual teams (VTs). VTs have staffing flexibility and the capacity to maintain efforts throughout a 24-hour day. However, those same features bring with them leadership and coordination challenges, such as communicating asynchronously, impoverished channels of communication, and member isolation. These countervailing forces generate paradoxes as to how VTs should operate. At issue is the extent to which team members can develop shared mental models (SMMs) concerning how they will manage such paradoxes. We advance a theory concerning the relationship between paradox SMM and VT effectiveness. Using data collected from 50 VTs, we illustrate that paradox SMMs are related significantly to team performance, viability, and member development. We discuss how various interventions could be used to enhance paradox SMMs.

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