Creator of Knowledge
Information Resources Management Association
Advancing the Concepts & Practices of Information Resources Management in Modern Organizations

Situational Synchronicity for Decision Support

Situational Synchronicity for Decision Support
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Author(s): Dorrie DeLuca (University of Delaware, USA) and Joseph S. Valacich (Washington State University, USA)
Copyright: 2008
Pages: 8
Source title: Encyclopedia of Decision Making and Decision Support Technologies
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): Frederic Adam (University College Cork, Ireland) and Patrick Humphreys (London School of Economics, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-843-7.ch089


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As cost constraints and expanding geographic and temporal boundaries move organizations toward virtual team work for increasingly complex tasks, research focused on understanding how to best support virtual teams is warranted. Virtual teams consist of people that use electronic communications media for all or most of their communication regarding a common task. Virtual teams allow “organizing work teams by electronic workflow, not physical location” (Dutton, 1999). Since its introduction, Media Richness Theory (MRT) (Daft & Lengel, 1986) has been broadly applied to predict effects of various media and task combinations. The premise of MRT is that the information needs for performing a task should be matched with the medium’s richness or “capacity to facilitate shared meaning” (Daft, Lengel, & Trevino, 1987). The richest media is considered to be face-to-face (FTF), with failure reported for complex tasks using any leaner media (Lengel & Daft, 1988). Despite its wide use, this theory has only mixed support. For virtual teams performing complex tasks, the dire predictions of MRT have been eclipsed with success (Davidson, 2000; DeLuca, Gasson, & Kock, 2006; Kruempel, 2000; Kock & DeLuca, 2006; Majchrzak, Rice, Malhotra, King, & Ba, 2000; Maznevski & Chudoba, 2000; Miranda & Saunders, 2003; Ocker, Fjermestad, Hiltz, Turoff, & Johnson, 1998; Robey, Khoo, & Powers, 2000). This success requires a new explanation (Lee, 1994), one that considers “how” the communication occurs. Consequently, researchers have looked for an alternative theoretical lens to provide theory for the management and use of information and communication technologies (Zmud, 1995) that explains the interplay of teams and communication media, particularly when attempting to solve business problems with little or no face-to-face communication (Weber, 2002).

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