The Impact of Ad hoc, Informal Communication on Virtual Team Effectiveness: A Study of IM Usage and Team Collaboration

Jean Chu, Pace University


Geographically dispersed teams face unique challenges in fostering informal communication that has been shown to enhance trust among team members. Though many studies have identified several inefficiencies of global virtual teams, little qualitative research has investigated the impact of communal networking technology and its perceived effects on team dynamics and performance. Using semi-structured interviews and chatlog observation, this participatory research specifically examined the role of instant messaging (IM) in ad hoc, informal communication. This research also examined the perceived merits and demerits of Virtual Team Interaction (VTI) in dispersed teams compared to face-to-face (FTF) communication in co-located teams. The findings suggest IM has a positive influence on both informal communication and work-related interaction, as well as on team efficiency, team contentment, and team accomplishment. Based on these findings, recommendations for practice include more education and training on best uses of IM for virtual teams. Virtual team members should have a good working knowledge of their technologies for communicating because it allows the team members to house well-coordinated, yet still informal, communication. Furthermore, communication technology should allow for frequent interaction between team leaders and members, both formally and informally. In light of these findings, recommendations for further research include an update to the definition of informal communication that better accommodates the contemporary realities of geographically dispersed work team members.

Subject Area

Information Technology|Computer science

Recommended Citation

Chu, Jean, "The Impact of Ad hoc, Informal Communication on Virtual Team Effectiveness: A Study of IM Usage and Team Collaboration" (2016). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI10249069.



Remote User: Click Here to Login (must have Pace University remote login ID and password. Once logged in, click on the View More link above)