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The impact of shared ownership on virtual team effectiveness

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  • This research studied the role of shared ownership on virtual team effectiveness, using student teams enrolled in engineering management coursework at Oregon State University and Virginia Polytechnic Institute. After a thorough review of the literature, the concept of shared ownership was developed. This concept was operationalized as the extent to which virtual team members believe they are equally responsible and accountable for project deliverables in which all team members receive the same evaluation. This research appears to be one of the first to examine the influence of shared ownership on multiple measures of team effectiveness. To evaluate the effects of shared ownership on virtual teams, two studies were performed. In the first study, team processes believed to be affected by shared ownership were investigated. These processes included team resource utilization and the establishment of shared mental models. In this study team performance was measured using an objective measure and perceptual-based survey measure. Team member satisfaction was also measured. The first study was also used to help develop, test and validate a survey instrument for measuring team processes related to resource utilization and the development of shared mental models. In the second study, two different project assignments were developed in an attempt to create differing levels of shared ownership. Although the assignment failed to establish significant or measurable differences in shared ownership, the effects of resource utilization and shared mental models on team performance and team member satisfaction were studied. Results from this research indicate that resource utilization and the development of shared mental models are highly correlated to each other, and that both of the variables are related to team member satisfaction. Upon comparison of the quantitatively measured data and the qualitative material collected in both studies, it was found that the qualitative analysis was consistent with the quantitatively data. On only two occasions out of 15 was qualitative evidence inconsistent with the survey data. Implications from this research extend to both practitioners and to the governing body of knowledge on virtual teams. Based on the findings from this study, engineering managers should ensure that support systems and activities are in place to help virtual teams utilize resources or develop shared mental models. These activities should increase team member satisfaction. The findings from this study also support the need for researchers to further develop and understand the concept of shared ownership and its implications on virtual team processes and performance.
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