Journal of Management Information Systems

Volume 28 Number 1 2011 pp. 351-386

The Influence of Virtuality on Social Networks Within and Across Work Groups: A Multilevel Approach

Ayoung, Suh, Kyung-Shik, Shin, Manju, Ahuja, and Min Soo, Kim

ABSTRACT: We examine how the virtuality of work context influences individuals' social networks within and across work groups. Given this purpose, we develop a multilevel research framework that explores the effects of different levels of virtuality on one's intra-group tie strength and extra-group network range based on the computer-mediated communication theory, the proximity theory, and the social network theory. The results of the hierarchical linear modeling indicate that the individual-level virtuality (use of personal and communal communication technologies) significantly influences one's intra-group tie strength and extra-group network range. Moreover, the results show that the effects of individual-level virtuality on social networks vary depending on the group-level virtuality, such as geographic/temporal dispersion and technological support. By illuminating how individuals' social networks can be developed through the appropriate use of personal and communal communication technologies in the context of a virtual group, this study provides useful insights into the mechanics that underlie effective virtual work.

Key words and phrases: computer-mediated communication (CMC), hierarchical linear modeling, multilevel analysis, social networks, virtuality