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Title: Communication and interpersonal dynamics in virtual team meetings : an applied linguistic perspective
Authors: Yu, Wing Man Carol
Degree: Ph.D.
Issue Date: 2021
Abstract: Much has been written about the rapid spread of global businesses around the world and the changing nature of work where employees work in an ever-increasing number of multi-national companies (MNCs) in teams across geographical, linguistic and cultural boundaries. This trend is enabled by technological advances where virtual teamwork is fast becoming the norm (Pauleen, 2004). Due to the outbreak of Covid-19, this emerging work form, has become a 'must' rather than an alternative in organisations nowadays (Bailey & Breslin, 2021; Caligiuri et al., 2020; Cooley, 2020; Jasmine, 2019; Newman & Ford, 2021; Salari & Shairkhoda, 2020; Whillans, Perlow & Turek, 2021). However, the impact of new technology, and the fact that many global virtual work teams consist of participants from different cultural backgrounds, who are second English language (L2) rather than first English language (L1) speakers puts unique pressure on effective business communication (Forey & Lockwood, 2007; Friginal, 2007; Hood & Forey, 2008). As virtual team meetings (VTMs) are the prime site where virtual team members 'meet' and discuss business related issues, the present study aims to investigate the interactions between virtual work-team members in virtual business meetings via teleconferencing. This study contains three main sections: The first section explores and discusses virtual team members' perceptions and experiences regarding virtual business meetings based on interview data, and the foci are on the challenges that they face during teleconferencing, and the strategies they employ to tackle these challenges in order to facilitate effective communication in virtual business meetings.
The second section investigates authentic interactions in virtual meetings using Communication Accommodation Theory (CAT) (Coupland et al., 1988; Giles, 1973; Giles & Powesland, 1975; Giles & Smith, 1979) as the theoretical and analytical framework. CAT posits that communication effectiveness and interlocutors' satisfaction can be optimised with appropriate levels of accommodation by applying one or more of five communicative strategies: Approximation, Interpretability, Discourse Management, Interpersonal Control and Emotional Expressions. Virtual team members' employment of CAT strategies together with any salient communicative behaviours in virtual team meetings are analysed and discussed. This section also discusses how immediate meeting contexts can influence their employment of CAT strategies. The third section incorporates the software Discursis as an addition to the qualitative analysis of CAT strategies in order to discuss its potential to enhance the qualitative analysis of virtual business meetings. This is possible because Discursis is able to generate visual and chronological representations of interlocutors' communication exchanges, speech patterns and engagement episodes. How CAT strategies are represented and can be mapped onto Discursis visual plots are also explored. The findings of the current study suggest that VTM participants generally have issues on meeting deficiencies, the virtual environment, language issues and team diversity. Nevertheless, it is found that virtual team members are also aware of the challenging environments in virtual settings and take on a pro-active role in overcoming the challenges. By analysing VTM discourse with CAT framework, VTM participants are found to make use of a wide range of linguistic resources during VTMs to achieve various meeting goals. A CAT strategy coding scheme as well as a modified version of CAT framework that fits the virtual team meeting environments have also been developed and proposed in the current study. The applicability of Discursis to analysing VTM interactions has also been discussed. The current study suggests that Discursis's strengths in visualizing turn mechanics, turn-taking and turn-allocation patterns as well as conceptual relevance between turns are particularly useful in analysing Discourse Management in the CAT framework which has its focus on interactants' engagement level in a discourse as well as the exchange processes.
Subjects: Business communication
Virtual work teams
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Pages: viii, 313 pages : color illustrations
Appears in Collections:Thesis

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