Extending Construal Level Theory to Distributed Teams: Perception and Evaluation of Distant Others

Posted: 15 Aug 2009 Last revised: 8 Jan 2018

See all articles by Jeanne M. Wilson

Jeanne M. Wilson

College of William and Mary - Mason School of Business

C. Brad Crisp

Abilene Christian University

Mark Mortensen

INSEAD - Organisational Behaviour

Date Written: July 24, 2009

Abstract

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 theory

Suggested Citation

Wilson, Jeanne M. and Crisp, C. Brad and Mortensen, Mark, Extending Construal Level Theory to Distributed Teams: Perception and Evaluation of Distant Others (July 24, 2009). MIT Sloan Research Paper No. 4747-09. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1448826 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1448826

Jeanne M. Wilson

College of William and Mary - Mason School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 8795
Williamsburg, VA 23187-8795
United States

C. Brad Crisp

Abilene Christian University ( email )

Abilene, TX 79699
United States

Mark Mortensen (Contact Author)

INSEAD - Organisational Behaviour ( email )

Boulevard de Constance
77305 Fontainebleau Cedex
France

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