Extending Construal Level Theory to Distributed Teams: Perception and Evaluation of Distant Others
Jeanne M. Wilson
College of William and Mary - Mason School of Business
C. Brad Crisp
Abilene Christian University
INSEAD - Organisational Behaviour
July 24, 2009
MIT Sloan Research Paper No. 4747-09
Building on prior research on distributed teams that has identified physical and temporal distance as impediments to collaboration and relationship development, this paper explores how and why we treat geographically distant others differently from those who are proximal. According to construal level theory, physically- or temporally-distant events or objects are more psychologically distant and are more likely to be described in terms of their more general characteristics, while views of more proximal events or objects will be more detailed and nuanced. We extend construal level theory to the distributed team context by advancing propositions about how group members perceive and evaluate distant others in contrast to proximal others. By comparing to alternative computer-mediated communication and social psychological theories that have been applied to this phenomenon, we show that construal level theory offers parsimonious explanations as well as novel predictions about how and why we perceive and evaluate distant others differently. The paper then considers theoretical, methodological, and practical implications of construal level theory for distributed teams and other virtual settings.
Keywords: distributed teams, collaboration, construal level theoryworking papers series
Date posted: August 15, 2009 ; Last revised: June 13, 2012
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