EXPLORING THE USE OF COMPUTER MEDIATED VIDEO COMMUNICATION IN SOUTH AFRICAN ENGINEERING PROJECTS

I.P. Meyer , T.J. Bond-Barnard, H Steyn, J Jordaan

Globally-expanding organisations, trying to capitalize on distributed skills, are increasingly using virtual project teams to shorten product development time and increase quality. These virtual teams, distributed across countries, cultures and time zones, are required to use faster and better ways of interaction. Past research has however shown that virtual teams using computer mediated communication (CMC) instead of face-to-face communication are less cohesive as they struggle with mistrust, controlling behaviour and communication breakdowns. This study sets out to determine if South African project practitioners perceive virtual teams using videoconferencing to suffer from the same CMC disadvantages as described in past research in other environments, and if they do, what the possible causes could be. This paper reports on a survey of 106 South African project practitioners. The results show that South African project practitioners prefer face-to-face communication above CMC and perceive virtual teams using videoconferencing to be less cohesive and to suffer from mistrust and communication breakdowns, but not from increased conflict and power struggles. The perceived shortcomings of videoconferencing might result from virtual teams using this medium having less time to build interpersonal relationships.

The South African Journal of Industrial Engineering. Vol.  27, No 2 (2016)