Academic journal article Journal of the Association for Information Systems

How Social Media-Enabled Communication Awareness Enhances Project Team Performance

Academic journal article Journal of the Association for Information Systems

How Social Media-Enabled Communication Awareness Enhances Project Team Performance

Article excerpt

1Introduction

Project teams are a critical locus of innovation and adaptability in contemporary organizations (Chiocchio & Essiembre, 2009; Hoegl & Parboteeah, 2006). A key issue for project teams is communication. Communication plays an important role not only at the outset of projects, when it serves to define goals and strategies (Fussell et al., 1998; Mathieu & Schulze, 2006), but also during subsequent action episodes, i.e., the time periods during which team members perform taskwork (Marks, Mathieu, & Zaccaro, 2001).

Communication during action episodes enables a variety of team processes that are critical to performance, such as monitoring progress, asking substantive questions, providing feedback, and coordinating subsequent actions (Humphrey & Aime, 2014; LePine, Piccolo, Jackson, Mathieu, & Saul, 2008; Marks et al., 2001; Salas, Sims, & Burke, 2005). These team processes require teams to engage in steady, rather than one-time, communication in order to keep up with new insights, project progress, and shifts in available resource (Ilgen, Hollenbeck, Johnson, & Jundt, 2005; Massey, MontoyaWeiss, & Hung, 2003). However, establishing a steady stream of team communication during action episodes is often difficult due to multitasking (i.e., different members working on different tasks), part-time involvement (i.e., members devoting only part of their capacity to the project), and asynchronous collaboration (i.e., different members working at different times) (Marks et al., 2001; McGrath, 1991). Under these circumstances, team members may pay too little attention to their team members' communication, which may easily lead to slow response times and progress delays (Cummings, Espinosa, & Pickering, 2009; McGrath, 1991; Ocker, Hiltz, Turoff, & Fjermestad, 1995). In other words, even if team members attempt to communicate a lot, these attempts will be in vain if the team lacks awareness of the communication.

These communication difficulties are further aggravated if teams communicate over information and communication technology (ICT) (Galegher & Kraut, 1994; Schweitzer & Duxbury, 2010). For example, ICT mediation was found to reduce much needed communication (Alge, Wiethoff, & Klein, 2003; De Guinea, Webster, & Staples, 2012; Hinds & Bailey, 2003), to decrease the team's motivation to engage in important team processes (Andres, 2012; Cramton, 2001), and to lead to dispersion of messages across multiple channels (Buder, 2007; Cramton, 2001). Given these difficulties, it is not surprising that research on ICT-mediated communication has struggled to find positive effects of team communication during action episodes on team performance (Kanawattanachai & Yoo, 2007; Weisband, 2002). Thus, although communication can enable critical team processes during action episodes, empirical evidence from ICT-mediated teams fails to reveal significant associations with team performance.

Our study seeks to contribute to resolving this inconclusive relationship between team communication during action episodes and team performance by integrating research on team communication with that on awareness systems. Awareness systems are ICTs that are designed to increase the visibility of events or states important to the team (Bardram & Hansen, 2010; Gutwin & Greenberg, 2002; Yang, Tong, & Teo, 2015). Specifically, we seek to integrate two findings from research on awareness systems. The first is that awareness systems can help teams shift attention from individual taskwork to the needs of the team (Dehler, Bodemer, Buder, & Hesse, 2009; Heath, Svensson, Hindmarsh, Luff, & vom Lehn, 2002). Such attention shifting may help establish a steady stream of communication despite multitasking, part-time involvement, and low motivation to engage in team processes. The second finding is that project team members often find communication to be the most useful source of awareness information (Dabbish, Stuart, Tsay, & Herbsleb, 2012; Gutwin, Penner, & Schneider, 2004). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.