Routine dynamics in virtual teams: the role of technological artifacts

Baralou, Evangelia and Dionysiou, Dionysios D. (2021). Routine dynamics in virtual teams: the role of technological artifacts. Information Technology & People (Early access).

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1108/ITP-03-2020-0109

Abstract

Purpose
In this paper, the authors extend their understanding of the internal dynamics of routines in contexts characterized by increased levels of virtuality. In particular, the authors focus on the role of routine artifacts in the internal dynamics of routines to answer the question: How does extensive reliance on information and communication technologies (ICTs) due to physical distance influence the internal dynamics of the new product development (NPD) routine (i.e. interactions between performative, ostensive and artifacts of routines) enacted by a virtual team?

Design/methodology/approach
This paper is based on an 18-month ethnographic study of the NPD routine performed by a virtual team. The authors relied predominantly on qualitative, ethnographic data collection and analysis methods, using semi-structured interviews, non-participant observation, and the collection of archival data and company documents (formal procedures, guidelines, application designs etc). Qualitative research offers a valuable means to investigate dynamic processes in organizations due to its sensitivity to the organizational context and potential to focus on activities as they unfold.

Findings
The findings highlight the central role of routine artifacts (ICTs) in the routine dynamics of the NPD routine performed by virtual team. In particular, the authors show that the use of the particular types of ICTs enabled team members to confidently and meaningfully relate to the overall routine activity and coordinate their actions in a context characterized by physical distance and extensive reliance on communication and collaboration technologies.

Originality/value
The paper sheds light into role of routine artifacts in the routine dynamics in a context characterized by a high degree of virtuality. This work contributes to the literature on routine dynamics by theorizing about the processes through which routine artifacts (ICTs) afforded routine participants the ability to act confidently and meaningfully to the present and dynamically coordinate their actions with their fellow routine participants.

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