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Influences on creativity in asynchronous virtual teams: a qualitative analysis of experimental teams

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1 Author(s)
R. J. Ocker ; Sch. of Inf. Sci. & Technol., Pennsylvania State Univ., University Park, PA, USA

As virtual teams constitute an important and pervasive organizational structure, research with the aim of improving the effectiveness of these teams is vital. Although critical topics such as conflict, coordination and trust are being addressed, research on creativity in virtual teams has been quite limited. Given that creative solutions to complex problems create and sustain a firm's competitive advantage, an investigation of creativity in virtual teams is warranted. The goal of the current study is to explore the influences on creativity in asynchronous virtual teams. Predicated upon grounded theory, this exploration is accomplished through an in-depth qualitative analysis of the team communication transcripts of ten virtual teams. Teams were composed of graduate students who interacted solely via an asynchronous, computer conferencing system to develop the high-level requirements and design for a new innovative product. Significant inhibitors to the creative performance of virtual teams included dominance, domain knowledge, downward norm setting, lack of shared understanding, time pressure, and technical difficulties. Significant enhancers to creativity included stimulating colleagues, the existence of a variety of social influences, a collaborative team climate, and both the surfacing and reduction of equivocality.

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication  (Volume:48 ,  Issue: 1 )