Does Medium Matter? A Comparison of Initial Meeting Modes for Virtual Teams

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Publication Date


Publication Title

IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication






Research Problem: There are no prior studies comparing modes of communication for virtual teams working over a substantial period of time that combined an initial synchronous desktop audio or video meeting with subsequent text-based computer-mediated communication (CMC).

Research Questions: Does the initial medium condition impact decision-making quality, creativity, group development, and process satisfaction?

Literature Review: Previous literature on media richness (the ability of a medium to carry and reproduce information based on feedback, multiple cues, language variety, and personal focus) and group outcomes (the level of creativity and quality of the work delivered by the group) suggests that ad-hoc groups using asynchronous CMC alone (without any initial meeting) or asynchronous CMC combined with an initial face-to-face (FTF) meeting have significantly higher levels of creativity and decision quality, compared to single-mode synchronous CMC groups or FTF groups.

Methodology: In this study, a laboratory experiment was conducted with 136 participants from 14 countries. All teams used asynchronous CMC for two weeks for a software requirements task, following an initial synchronous meeting in one of four conditions: FTF, desktop audioconferencing, desktop videoconferencing, or text only.

Results and Discussion: Results suggest that there are no significant differences among the four conditions. This research indicates that it does not matter what medium is used for an initial short meeting of a group that is to subsequently work together via asynchronous text communication.