Organizations worldwide are increasingly making use of global virtual teams (GVTs). GVTs employ advanced information and communication technologies to collaborate in geographically and temporally distributed settings. Coordination is a fundamental activity to achieve effective teamwork. Management of task coordination (i.e., task dependencies) has been found to impact team performance. While coordination in traditional teams has been well studied, GVTs, with their unique challenges to coordination, require additional research. Through an in-depth investigation of task coordination in two GVTs, this study reveals the coordination problems caused by the structural characteristics of GVTs, how GVT structures contribute to the usage of specific task coordination mechanisms, how task coordination mechanisms can overcome GVT coordination problems, and how these mechanisms affect GVT outcomes. The findings indicate that task and members’ characteristics can cause problems of duplicate work and lack of sharing of local information. Low task interdependence calls for coordination by direct supervision while high task interdependence necessitates team meetings. ICT accessibility and synchronicity characteristics may improve or impair the coordination process depending on the extent to which they can facilitate distribution of necessary information. Shared team interaction mental models may overcome the problem of duplicate work. Together with shared task and technology mental models, shared team interaction mental models also serve as important mediators between coordination mechanisms and GVT outcomes of task quality and member satisfaction. The derived model can serve to aid research on GVT task coordination and GVT practice.
Sutanto, Juliana; Kankanhalli, Atreyi; and Tan, Bernard, "Task Coordination in Global Virtual Teams" (2004). ICIS 2004 Proceedings. 65.