The roles of conflict management and psychological empowerment in virtual teams
Shubhi Gupta, Govind Swaroop Pathak, Baidyanath Biswas
Information Technology & People
Business School

The COVID-19 pandemic has redefined the existing paradigm of organisational business processes. Consequently, many organisations now face work-related challenges, such as difficulty in adopting hybrid work arrangements. To overcome these challenges, organisations are also shifting their existing work patterns. Some of them are embracing “remote work” policies to allow a minimal negative impact on the health of employees while also ensuring that they survive the pandemic shock. Therefore, virtual workplaces and VTs have emerged as key survival strategies among many organisations. Recently, the remote-work policies for 80% of organisations shifted to virtual and mixed modes of team collaboration during the early phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. This change is also a fitting response to the commentary by social scientists who envisaged a dramatic shift in doing business across organisations

However, remote working patterns and virtual teams are not entirely new. With the increase in the outsourcing of tasks, distribution of workload among offshore and onsite teams, and the emergence of computer-mediated communication (CMC) tools, workers have been collaborating electronically with co-workers or employees of other organisations. Often, these individuals have worked with multiple teams distributed over different geographical locations, major time zones, multiple business units, and even across diverse cultures and ethnicities. Therefore, it is evident that “conflicts” may arise within these virtual teams, and they need to be resolved amicably. Further, the employees working within virtual teams must be in an “empowered state” of mind to continue delivering their tasks and lead to outstanding team performance.

This DCU research collaboration aims to determine the impact of perceived virtuality on team dynamics and outcomes by adopting the Input-Mediators-Outcome (IMO) framework. Further, it also investigates the mediating role of team processes and emergent states. The authors collected survey data from 315 individuals working in virtual teams (VTs) in the information technology sector in India using both offline and online questionnaires. They performed the analysis using Partial Least Squares Structural Equation Modelling (PLS-SEM)