Research on Global Virtual Team Collaboration

Research on Global Virtual Team Collaboration

Research Agenda

The ShanghAI Lectures provide a unique opportunity to study global team collaboration in virtual environments. It is our goal to investigate how Internet-based collaboration technologies and cultural diversity of team members affect group dynamics and performance. Based on the lessons learned from this large-scale international field study, we intend to derive guidelines on how to effectively support the work of globally distributed teams.

Several research findings based previous editions of the ShanghAI Lectures have already been published (see Publications below).

Data Collection

When studying virtual team interactions, we are not only interested in the outcome of group work (e.g., performance measures) but also in studying group interaction processes. It is important to take team members' subjective reports into account in order to investigate the psychological implications of collaboration technologies. In addition, behavioral observation is crucial for an objective and reliable analysis of group interaction processes. We use a mixed-method approach combining observational and self-report data. We use an integrated tracking system that records user actions and communication on the main collaboration platform (i.e., the ShanghAI Lectures website) in order to collect data on individual and group behavior. Self-report data are collected in online surveys.

Survey data

Students are requested to fill in the following questionnaires. Invitations to the online surveys will be sent by email.
  • Standardized questionnaires to assess the impact of group diversity, personality, and emergent leadership on virtual team collaboration
  • Evaluation questionnaires to collect student feedback on the lecture series in general, the collaboration environment, and group assignments

Website logs

The following behavioral data will be automatically collected, and used for analysis of group dynamics:
  • Any published texts on the website, including profile information and forum posts
  • Text chat
  • User "activity" on the website (i.e., how long you are logged in and which pages you open and edit)

Research Ethics

Informed Consent

Students receive an informed consent form on the registration site that informs them that any published text on the website (including profile information and forum postings) as well as chat logs can be used for research purposes. As part of the informed consent, students are requested to accept that their activities on the course website can be used for research. Any collected data (both from the website logs and surveys) will be made anonymous after the data analysis. Students are permitted to withdraw their participation in the research project at any time if they wish to. Their decision whether to participate or potential withdrawal from the research project will not affect their academic evaluation. Any published or reported data will be based on aggregated results and no individual can be identified in any published work. For more details, please refer to the Terms and Conditions.

Data Protection

A commercial online survey tool will be used to collect all self-report data. This evaluation tool is protected against unauthorized access and all data will be removed from the server after completion of the questionnaires. Students' email addresses are required for administrative reasons in order to send invitations to the online surveys. Email addresses will be treated confidentially. Participants' names and email addresses will not be linked to self-reported questionnaire data and their anonymity is guaranteed.


The research project is being conducted by a team of social scientists under supervision of Dr. Béatrice Hasler, Research Fellow of the Sammy Ofer School of Communications, Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, Israel. Please do not hesitate to contact her with any questions regarding the ShanghAI Lectures research.


This research is supported by a Marie Curie Intra European Fellowship within the 7th European Community Framework Programme (FP7-PEOPLE-2009-IEF-254277).

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