Degree Type

Honors Capstone Project

Date of Submission

Spring 5-1-2010

Capstone Advisor

Leonard S. Newman, PhD

Honors Reader

Jeffrey M. Stanton, PhD

Capstone Major


Capstone College

Arts and Science

Audio/Visual Component


Capstone Prize Winner


Won Capstone Funding


Honors Categories

Social Sciences

Subject Categories

Psychology | Social Psychology


Traditional ways of doing business and communicating in the workplace are changing. With frequent mergers, shifting operational demands and underlying economic pressure, computer-mediated communication has been increasingly employed. To achieve greater flexibility in workforce configurations, working virtually is often more the norm than the exception. With continuously improving internet technologies, frequently work-teams are formed when members are not geographically co-located. Both internal and external pressures combine, in the corporate setting, to produce an unprecedented velocity of change which seems especially related to globalization. (Held, 2007) Just exactly how does the virtual team handle abrupt change? While many researchers focus on the differences between face-to-face teams and virtual environs (Olson & Olson 2000), formation of trust (Jarvenpaa & Leidner, 1999), leadership (Kayworth & Leidner , 2001/2002), emergent leadership (Wickham &Walther, 2007), status differences (Weisband, Schneider, & Connolly, 1995), knowledge integration (Hartmann, Piontkowski, Keil, & Laus, 2002) (Malhotra & Majchrzak, 2004) (Zakaria, Amelinckx, & Wilemon, 2004), crossing cultures (Gibbs, 2009) and innovation (Nemiro, 2002),there has been relatively less focus on how the virtual experience influences the emotional state, cognitive functioning, and metaperceptions of teams who work virtually. It would be assumed that instability would affect the virtual teams negatively; however, there could be something different about virtual teams that uniquely position them for better sailing in shifting winds. In the laboratory we simulated the workplace virtual team structure in a streamlined way, assembling 40 groups from the community. This study examined how a quick change of leadership influences the virtual team across measures of affect, cognitive performance, group process performance and evaluative concerns. The teams experiencing leadership change experienced lower positive affect and blunted positive metaperception. Cognitive performance, negative affect, evaluation, and perceptions of team processes were remarkably stable

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