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Effects Of Task Interdependence And Type Of Communication On Performance In Virtual Teams

Ramón Rico, Susan G. Cohen

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PurposeTo investigate the effects of within‐group task interdependence and the degree of communications synchrony on performance in virtual teams (VT).Design/methodology/approachA 2 × 2 factorial design of 240 participants in Spain, randomly assigned to 80 three‐person teams, was used. Teams worked virtually (not meeting face‐to‐face), performing a merit‐rating task in a laboratory setting.FindingsThe analyses revealed an interaction effect between task interdependence and synchrony of communication. High values of VT performance were found both under conditions of “low task interdependence” and “asynchrony of communication” and under conditions of “high task interdependence” and “synchrony of communication”. The results show that superior VT performance is contingent on the match between the nature of the task and the choice of communications modality.Research limitations/implicationsFirst, additional research will be needed to confirm and extend the findings in actual working environments. Second, a closer look is necessary at the different mediation processes employed by teams in situations where there is a better or worse fit between task characteristics and type of communication (e.g. team strategy).Practical implicationsThis study makes it clear that it is necessary to optimize and nurture one's investments in communication technologies, and calls for further consideration of the requirements for the design of technological solutions in accordance with task interdependence.Originality/valueThis work complements past research that has focused mainly on virtual teams using asynchronous technologies or comparing them with face‐to‐face teams.