Technology adaptation and boundary management in bona fide virtual groups.
MetadataShow full item record
In this research project composed of multiple case studies, I focused on how bona fide virtual groups appropriated multiple media to facilitate group boundary construction and boundary management, which are preconditions of group identity formation. Specific topics explored in the study included how virtual groups socially constructed their group boundaries through recurring patterns of media use as well as other communication practices, how the group boundaries were preserved and blurred in both internal and external communication, and how bona fide groups managed dialectal tensions in interacting with external groups. To explore those research questions, I conducted four in-depth case studies of real life groups operating in natural contexts. Multiple qualitative methods of data collection were employed in the study and a modified grounded theory method was used in analyzing the collected data. As a result, the study found that the groups studied constructed group boundaries through communication practices such as making sense of common goals, negotiation of task jurisdiction with other interlocking groups, distinguishing patterns of ingroup interaction from those of outgroup interactions, and through developing group specific patterns and norms of media combination and media use. Group boundaries were preserved when the influence of outgroup members were constrained through media use, such as excluding them from team conference calls, filtering messages from external groups or members, and using boundary spanners to interact with external members. Group boundaries were blurred when intergroup communication impacted internal dynamics and when norms and practices were transferred from other contexts into a given group context. The study suggested that technology adaptation and boundary management occurred simultaneously. In addition, the groups experienced dialectical tensions in face of the permeability of group boundaries and developed communication tactics to deal with those tensions. Theoretical implications of the study were also discussed.
Zhang, Huiyan (2005). Technology adaptation and boundary management in bona fide virtual groups.. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Texas A&M University. Available electronically from