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In this paper, we explore the emergence of subgroups in global virtual teams and consider the impact that subgroups have on the communication patterns and interactions of these teams. The study presented here takes the case of eight virtual teams that were formed between two universities in two different countries. Our findings reveal that subgroups exert different degrees of impact on the team as a whole. Where the impact was high, boundaries were created between team members in different subgroups while the development of team cohesiveness was restricted. Nevertheless, all teams were able to produce high quality outcomes, suggesting that the emergence of subgroups may not always have a negative influence on team performance. We discuss the implications of these findings for research and practice.
Date of Publication: June 2005