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Abstract

This state-of-research review presents a stream of work that focuses on the question of whether factors that drive conventional team performance also apply to the virtual environment. Conventional teams exhibit group interaction styles that affect communication and thus team performance by facilitating or hindering the exchange of information among group members. In conventional teams, interaction style can be reliably assessed, and from that assessment, performance can be predicted. Here we present an overview of three studies that investigate human interaction and performance in the virtual setting. The first study presents the conversion of an instrument designed to assess interaction styles in face-to-face environments for use with virtual teams collaborating via the Internet. Results illustrate that interaction style predicts task performance outcomes (such as solution quality) and process outcomes (such as solution acceptance) in virtual teams in ways very similar to those seen in face-to-face teams. The second study offers a direct comparison of performance in virtual and face-to-face teams. Results show that virtual teams are less successful than face-to-face teams on most outcome measures. In addition, interaction styles explain much more variance of process outcomes than does communication mode. The third study examines the role of expertise and extraversion on interaction style and performance. Results indicate that extraversion begets a productive interaction style but that a difference in extraversion between team members leads to a negative style. We conclude with an integrative discussion and suggest additional avenues for this research.

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