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Working together when being apart: An analysis of distributed collaborative work through ICT from an organizational and psychosocial perspective
KTH, School of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), Computer and Systems Sciences, DSV.
2005 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other scientific)
Abstract [en]

The purpose of the research is to analyze collaboration and communication in distributed teams working together through ICT (Information and Communication Technology), to provide an overview and a broader understanding of important areas that require consideration. The analysis is from an organizational, psychosocial and managerial perspective, with the aim to support the development of strategies and the creation of more efficient and pleasant distributed work environments. Research questions concern the psychosocial work environment; differences, problems and opportunities for distributed teams, with deeper analysis of areas that was demonstrated particularly difficult. The analysis is concretized into advice to guide distributed teams; common problem areas are pointed out and an attempt on a theoretical model of distributed project work is made. A solid ground for continued research in the area as well as possibilities to support distributed teams is provided.

The research was mainly conducted in globally distributed project courses at a university level, where students communicated and collaborated through ICT. The results apply on distributed projects, but can also be relevant for other areas in the new ICT facilitated work environment. The research has been conducted by investigating how team members behave in and perceive distributed work environments; analyzing how i.e. variations in organization, work, social activities and behavior affect how well the collaboration and communication work

Teams working in distributed projects go through the same stages and encounter the same problems as any other team. Some problems become harder to overcome, there are new obstacles, at the same time as other problems become less noticeable and new opportunities arise. The base for collaboration and communication changes when team members don't see each other regularly. Teams are entailed to use ICT for basically all communication and various media demands alterations in behavior, as well as it alters the relation between senses and how people perceive things. Distributed team members don't have the same awareness of each other and get fewer cues to interpret situations and handle teambuilding, motivational problems and conflicts. Several of the regular ways to start socializing, build trust and get a common base for understanding and collaboration are not present in a distributed environment. There is no physical team space to meet in and team members don't "see" each other on a regular basis.

It is possible to successfully work in distributed teams without regular face-to-face meetings even if it is more intricate. It will always be different, and the big danger is believing that it won't. Working in distributed teams is not necessarily worse, but there are no effortless solutions for replacing face-to-face encounters. Distributed projects require effort, but conducted right it can be a rewarding experience that brings an extra dimension to the project work. To make distributed projects work well it is necessary to consider technological issues as well as their effects on individuals. It is essential to understand the new issues people encounter when moving to a distributed work environment and the interrelations between different areas and variables.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH , 2005. , xi, 297 p.
Report series / DSV, ISSN 1101-8526 ; 2005:4
Keyword [en]
Datavetenskap, system sssciences, computer
Keyword [sv]
National Category
Computer Science
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-145ISBN: 91-7283-953-8OAI: diva2:7325
Public defence
2005-03-18, Sal A, KTH-Forum, Isafjordsgatan 39, Kista, 13:00
QC 20101028Available from: 2005-03-07 Created: 2005-03-07 Last updated: 2010-10-28Bibliographically approved

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