Language Proficiency and Media Synchronicity Theory: The Impact of Media Capabilities on Satisfaction and Inclusion in Multilingual Virtual Teams

AbstractVirtual teams that use integrated communication technologies are ubiquitous in cross-border collaboration. This study explored media use and communication performance in multilingual virtual teams. Based on surveys from 96 virtual teams (with 578 team members), the research showed that more time spent in synchronous communication channels such as online conferences increased inclusion and satisfaction. Team members with lower language proficiency felt less included in synchronous and asynchronous collaboration, whereas team members with higher language proficiency felt less satisfied with asynchronous collaboration. Also, limited language proficiency speakers were significantly less likely to view synchronous tools as helpful for their teams to reach a mutual decision. Our data supports Media Synchronicity Theory (MST) for native and highly proficient English speakers. However, MST needs to be adjusted to account for different levels of language proficiency.

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