Advancement in communication technologies continues to fuel the growth of geographically distributed teams. Managers and team members have expressed concerns about negative impacts when individuals work at a distance from each other since such changes in work structure can affect social interactions among individuals in teams. The social relationships, shared experiences, and ongoing interpersonal interactions that often arise from colocation are recognized as contributing to the social capital of individuals. In this paper, we examine how working in a distributed team, a feature that influences the extent to which team members are colocated, affects the level of individual social capital. We suggest that while social capital has been largely viewed as arising from face-to-face interactions, it can also arise from computer-mediated interactions. We focus on two measures of structural social capital: prominence and information diversity. Data from 254 members in 18 distributed teams shows that while the level of colocation influences social capital derived from face-to- face interactions, it has no impact on social capital associated with computer-mediated interactions. Multilevel analysis shows that both individual and team characteristics influence face-to-face and computer-mediated social capital. These results emphasize that staff and managers in distributed teams must work together in order to create social capital that will benefit both individuals and teams.
Arling, Priscilla and Subramani, Mani, "Being There Versus Being Wired: The Effect of Colocation on Social Capital in Distributed Teams" (2005). ICIS 2005 Proceedings. Paper 46.