A comparative analysis of the development of organizational and group identification in virtual and face -to -face groups
This dissertation examines the development of identification for multiple targets over time in face-to-face and virtual groups. Participants were students from a satellite campus of a large Midwestern university, who were randomly assigned into groups differed by face-to-face (n = 105) and virtual (n = 96) mode of communication. Participants completed a brainstorming task over a six-week period that concerned the larger organization. Data was gathered by survey at Time One and Time Two, which included Mael and Ashforth's (1992) organizational identification questionnaire for both the group and the larger organizational target, and satisfaction, analysis of transcripts of the groups' interactions, and reflection papers written by the participants after the completion of the task. Statistical analysis showed that group identification for the virtual groups declined significantly from Time One to Time Two ( p = .000), and that virtual group participants had significantly lower satisfaction (p = .000) with the project than did the face-to-face participants. Increased frequency of communication did not increase identification for the group or the organizational target over time, contrary to prediction and previous research. Virtual group identification scores were significantly different (p = .000) than face-to-face identification scores at Time Two, reinforcing the difference in modes of communication. Further, the quantitative results suggest that there may have been differences in the expectations of the project in terms of mode of communication, which may have affected the identification and satisfaction scores. The qualitative analysis of the transcripts and the reflection papers supports these results, and also suggests how the development of identification is different between modes of communication, and how the framing of the virtual experience in face-to-face terms may have affected the lower satisfaction scores for virtual participants. The results suggest that mode of communication and communication processes play a role in the development of group identification, and call for future research to further clarify this new arena of study for identification. ^
Major Professors: Cynthia Stohl, Purdue University, Melanie Morgan, Purdue University.