Date of Award

12-2009

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Industrial Engineering

Advisor

Greenstein, Joel S.

Committee Member

Gramopadhye , Anand K.

Committee Member

Cho , Byung Rae

Abstract

Given the increasing importance of globalization and collaboration, this research investigates the possibility of performing team-building training for globally dispersed teams using the capabilities of the virtual world Second Life. Three meeting conditions, the 3D virtual world Second Life, a combination of face-to-face and Second Life and face-to-face were evaluated. Thirty randomly assigned 3 person teams performed an ice-breaker session and then a team-building activity in each meeting condition. Four dependent variables were measured: task completion time; quality of task performance; the subjective satisfaction with the process based on group cohesiveness, perception of the process and satisfaction with the outcome; and subjective satisfaction with the communication modality.
Following data collection, univariate analyses were used to analyze each dependent variable to determine the differences, if any, among the meeting conditions. The results did not show significant differences for performance and subjective satisfaction across the meeting conditions; however they did show significant results for subjective satisfaction with the communication modality. This study indicates that the participants found the virtual world productive, enjoyed the experience of using this environment and believed that they could communicate and collaborate in it effectively. Even though participants indicated little previous experience with Second Life, this study found that it has potential as an alternate team meeting space.
Cost analyses suggest that in the long run the expense of using a virtual meeting space will be less than the cost of using face-to-face meeting space. Future research could include looking at larger group sizes, other types of team work, different team-building activities, or the effect of features of the virtual meeting space on team performance and user experience.

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