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Abstract

As work teams become more distributed, effective computer-mediated communication is increasingly impacting their performance. This study investigates how team climate influences communication frequency among team members and their use of different communication media. Data were collected in two information systems courses offered at an Austrian university in which 50 student teams developed web-based applications and conducted usability tests. A team climate framework based on task and social orientation was used to assess the teams’ performance and communication patterns. We found that both task and social dimensions of team climate were positively related to higher communication frequency as well as objective and subjective performance. Among other things, the results suggest that a task-oriented climate is especially linked to the use of e-mail, while social orientation is linked to the use of face-to-face meetings. We also found differences in communication patterns and performance across four different types of team climates (fully functioning, cozy, cold, and dysfunctional). The results underscore the importance of both task and social dimensions for a team to perform well. Our study contributes to both the academic literature that investigates factors affecting media choice and the practitioner literature that examines how to manage virtual teamwork effectively.

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