Australian Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies; University of Melbourne – Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences
Melissa Conley Tyler
Melbourne Law School
Organisational Psychologist, pp. 5-8, September 2006
U of Melbourne Legal Studies Research Paper No. 277
One of last year’s College of Organisational Psychologists professional development seminars in Melbourne focused on the topic of virtual teams and flexible working. The presenters, Dr. Neville Meyers from Queensland University of Technology and Mike Sinclair, Director of IT projects at Shell, indicated that virtual work teams are a common characteristic of many Australian workplaces and their current performance success is likely to lead to an increase in their application around the world. One of the most salient differences between the traditional office and the virtual office is that more communication is likely to take place via electronic media (Meyers & Hearn, 2000). Computer-mediated communication strategies such as email, instant messaging, NetMeeting and video or tele-conferencing are frequently used to disseminate new information, provide performance appraisal and feedback and engage in negotiation.
It is therefore important to be aware of how computer-mediated communication differs from the traditional face-to-face alternative and in what instances one approach may produce more beneficial outcomes than the other. The following discussion reviews some of the research examining differences between face-to-face and computer-mediated communication, in an attempt to clarify the advantages and disadvantages of each approach across different contexts. Specifically, issues of online negotiation, feedback objectivity, applicability, fraud and accessibility are discussed.