Voice in a virtual world: From resistance to appropriation

Lynnette G. Leonard, John C. Sherblom, Lesley A. Withers

Abstract


Working in groups requires trust, openness, and immediacy. A desire for individual independence, even anonymity, can challenge that trust in virtual teams. The present study examines the predictions of media naturalness theory for the communication of virtual teams. Perceptions of the communication experience (occurring along a channel spectrum from text-only to text communication with degrees of audio) are analyzed. Our analysis reveals five conceptual themes (impressions of voice, identity/trust, embodiment, interaction, and openness) that show shifts over time in participant perceptions of their communicating in the virtual groups. Together, these themes show a pattern of change over time in participant expectations of computer-mediated communication and particularly of their initial resistance to the use of voice and ultimate appropriation of it.

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