Group Maintenance in Cyber-infrastructure-supported Distributed Groups (2006)


We propose a study of the ways in which members of distributed groups create and maintain a social environment that enables and motivates members to work together using cyber-infrastructure [5, 12]. Distributed groups are networks of geographically dispersed individuals working together over time towards a common goal. Distributed work has a long history [e.g., 87], but recent advances in information and communication technologies (ICT) have been crucial enablers for extension of this organizational form [1]. Cyber-infrastructure is an emerging concept that refers to the constellation of ICT systems designed to support the communication, coordination, collaboration, data collection, storage, analysis and dissemination needs of distributed groups. As a result of these technical innovations, distributed groups are becoming more common in all kinds of organizations [82]. However, the distance between group members—geographic, organizational and social distance—challenges members to maintain the social relationships necessary for the group to be effective [91]. A substantial and growing knowledge base exists for understanding geographically-distributed collaboration in science and in the workplace [41, 118]. However, much less is known about the social aspects of teamwork in distributed groups. To fill this gap, the proposed research addresses the following general research question:
What kinds of group maintenance behavior enable members of cyber-infrastructure supported distributed groups to work together most effectively, and how?

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