Hype or Help? A Longitudinal Field Study of Virtual World Use for Team Collaboration


Learning Objectives:

1. Understand how dispositional factors, both general and IT-specific, drive technology use in virtual teams

2. Understand how time and technology type impact the relationship between disposition and technology use in virtual teams

3. Understand the downstream implications of disposition, time, and availability of a virtual world system for cohesion and performance in virtual teams.

About the Research

Despite increasing organizational interest and investment in virtual worlds (VWs), there is a lack of research on the benefits of VWs. When and how does the use of VW systems engender better organizational outcomes than traditional collaborative technologies? This paper investigates the value of VWs for team collaboration. Team collaboration is particularly relevant in studying VWs given the rich interactive nature of VWs and an increasing organizational reliance on virtual teamwork.

To understand the value of VW use for team collaboration, we examine the relationship between a team's disposition toward IT, their general disposition (personality) and VW use in influencing team cohesion and performance. We conducted a field study that compares two collaborative technology systems - one that is based on a traditional desktop metaphor and one that is grounded in the principles of a virtual world. We tracked the use of the systems for one year.

We analyzed data at the team level and the results generally support our model, with agreeableness, conscientiousness, extraversion, openness, and computer self-efficacy interacting with time and technology type to positively influence team technology use. We also found that the use of the virtual world system positively influenced the relationship between technology use and team cohesion, which, in turn, predicts team performance. The model explains 57 percent, 21 percent, and 24 percent of the variance in team technology use, team cohesion, and team performance, respectively.