Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Charles Scherbaum

Committee Members

Kristin Sommer

Harold Goldstein

Yochi Cohen-Charash

Logan Watts

Subject Categories

Industrial and Organizational Psychology | Social Psychology


virtual teams; virtual groups; interdependence; emergence; team communication


Virtual groups and teams are increasingly common in today’s organizations, particularly since the onset of the Covid-19 crisis. However, little is known about how specific design features predict communicative team processes and emergent phenomena in the days immediately following virtual team formation. This dissertation examined the effects of task interdependence (i.e., shared resources) and outcome interdependence (i.e., shared goals and feedback) on task-oriented and relationship-oriented electronic communication between group members and emergent group perceptions over a 5-day experimental simulation. Results showed that while the majority of hypotheses were not supported, three key findings were culled from the analysis. First, virtual groups that were provided shared goals and feedback engaged in substantially more task-oriented and relationship-oriented communication across the length of the simulation than groups that were provided with individual goals and feedback. Second, task-oriented communication between group members predicted the emergence of cognition-based trust and team efficacy over the first 4 days of the simulation. Finally, contrary to expectations, emergence conformed to a nonlinear trajectory over time, as group member attitudes converged from day 2 to day 4 and diverged from day 4 to day 5 of the simulation. Implications and limitations of this research are discussed.