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Christina's LIS Rant
Thursday, November 13, 2008
  Some rules to help build trust quickly in virtual teams
Reading this article recommended by two members of my committee...

Walther, J. B., & Bunz, U. (2005). The rules of virtual groups: Trust, liking, and performance in computer-mediated communication. Journal of Communication, 55(4), 828-846. DOI:10.1093/joc/55.4.828

The hypothesis is that adherence to 6 structuring rules derived from a history of study on CMC and virtual teams will lead to increased trust and liking within the group. The rules are:
  1. start right away - it takes longer to get to trust, and it's harder to make up time in getting work done, so start right away
  2. communicate frequently
  3. multitask getting organized and doing substantive work simultaneously- if you do all organizing and then all doing you might use up all of your time before getting to the work and duplication isn't necessarily a bad thing
  4. overtly acknowledge that you have read one another's messages
  5. be explicit about what you are thinking and doing
  6. set deadlines and stick to them
In the study, they took three groups. They encouraged all of the groups to follow these rules. One third of the groups were just graded on their final work, one third on their paper and if they posted at least 5 out of every 7 days, and the final third on posting substantive messages as well as organizing messages.

(lots of details in the article on how this stuff was measured)

The groups who were graded on rule-following followed all of the rules more (not just the one they were graded on). In general - those groups that followed the rules reported more trust and liking and felt that they did better on the projects. Not all of the rules correlated with the grades received on the project, but most did. So these things apparently really worked.

Do try these at home :)
Update: comps tag added

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This is my blog on library and information science. I'm into Sci/Tech libraries, special libraries, personal information management, sci/tech scholarly comms.... My name is Christina Pikas and I'm a librarian in a physics, astronomy, math, computer science, and engineering library. I'm also a doctoral student at Maryland. Any opinions expressed here are strictly my own and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer or CLIS. You may reach me via e-mail at cpikas {at} gmail {dot} com.

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Christina Kirk Pikas

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