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Research Article Electronic Media Variety and Virtual Team Performance: The Mediating Role of Task Complexity Coping Mechanisms

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2 Author(s)
Ned Kock ; Division of International Business and Technology Studies, Texas A&M International University, Laredo, TX, USA ; Gary S. Lynn

Research problem: Much of the research on electronic communication media so far has been characterized by a focus on the impact that specific media may have on individuals and teams, as opposed to the impact that multiple media, when used in combination, may have on individuals and teams. Research questions: (1) Does a high degree of media variety facilitate the implementation of team mechanisms for coping with task complexity? (2) Does the degree of implementation of team mechanisms for coping with task complexity positively influence team performance? Literature review: Based on a focused literature review, we develop a new set of propositions relating media variety and team performance, which we tested in the context of teams engaged in new product development. Methodology: Data from 290 new product development teams in 66 organizations located in the Northeastern US were analyzed through partial least squares-based structural equation modeling. The analysis was conducted with the software WarpPLS 2.0. Results and discussion: The results of the analysis suggest that a high degree of electronic communication media variety facilitates the implementation of task complexity coping mechanisms, such as coordination activities, in new product development teams. This, in turn, seems to lead to significant gains in team efficiency and effectiveness in those teams. The results also suggest that while electronic communication media variety plays an important facilitation role, by facilitating coordination activities, it has a much less pronounced direct effect on team efficiency and effectiveness. In other words, in the absence of task complexity coping mechanisms, such as coordination activities, a high degree of media variety may not be very useful for teams carrying out complex tasks such as new product development.

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication  (Volume:55 ,  Issue: 4 )