Group Maintenance in Cyber-infrastructure-supported Distributed Groups (2007)


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 when using cyber-infrastructure [4, 11]. Distributed groups are networks of geographically-dispersed individuals working together over time towards a common goal. Cyber-infrastructure is an emerging concept that refers to the constellation of 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 [86]. However, the limitations of the media and the distance between group members—geographic, organizational and social distance—challenges members to maintain the social relationships necessary for the group to be effective [95]. A substantial and growing knowledge base exists for understanding geographically-distributed collaboration in science and in the workplace [41, 121] and for group maintenance for face-to-face teams. However, much less is known about the social aspects of teamwork in distributed groups. To fill this gap, the proposed research addresses the following two general research questions:
What kinds of group maintenance behaviors occur and are effective in cyber-infrastructure-supported distributed groups?
How do these behaviors interact with factors such as task design to influence group effectiveness and innovation?

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