Using Social Relations Analysis to Examine the Impact of Role Change on Interpersonal Perceptions in Virtual Teams

AbstractVirtual teams are susceptible to disruptions such as role changes. Due to inconsistent conclusions in the current literature, it is difficult to predict how role disruptions might affect interpersonal perceptions in those environments. We recommend using a social relations analysis to uncover interpersonal processes within virtual teams that might be hidden in the complex multilevel structure of teams. We demonstrate this technique using data from a study involving 40 virtual teams configured in a laboratory; half of the teams experienced a change in leader role during the collaboration. The analysis revealed significant perceiver (individual differences in rating tendencies) and relationship variance (differentiation among team members) in evaluations of team members. Teams experiencing role change showed more differentiation of partners in evaluations and accuracy in guessing how team members evaluated them, compared to teams without role changes. Implications for future research on interpersonal processes in virtual teams are discussed.

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