If Words Could Speak: a Discourse Analysis of Emails from Global Virtual Teams

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University of Alabama Libraries

ABSTRACTThe increase in virtual and remote work has revealed how important it is to learn how to successfully navigate this newer and more prevalent form of collaborative work. The goal of the study was to examine how members of global virtual teams work together. The analysis looked at email communication from a 60-day period to gain a deeper understanding of how the team worked. A total of 873 emails from 4 global virtual teams were analyzed through discourse analysis to answer the questions how do GVTs construct shared meaning, understanding and a team culture through email interaction? How do members of GVT talk about work-related expectations? What are the cultural patterns at play in the discourse of GVTs? Results indicated that share meaning was constructed through strategies including (a) directly asking for clarification, (b) asking additional questions, (c) sharing suggestions and information, (d) confirming shared understanding, (e) offering information, (f) giving feedback, and (g) direct confirming statements. Work-related expectations talk included themes of (a) collaboration (including making suggestions, requests for action, and individual updates), (b) identifying problems, (c) sharing information (including discussions and decisions and agreement), (d) showing appreciation, (e) apologies, (f) demonstrating dependability, and (g) setting additional meetings. Differences in the cultures of team members did not play a role in their communication patterns. Results indicate how team members can construct shared understanding via email.Keywords: Global virtual teams, email, shared meaning, team culture

Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Email, Global virtual teams, Shared meaning, Team Culture