Theorising antecedents of cohesion and conflict in distributed ISD project teams

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McCarthy, Stephen
O'Raghallaigh, Paidi
Fitzgerald, Ciara
Adam, Frédéric
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Association for Information Systems (AIS)
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Research Projects
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The effectiveness of distributed ISD teams is often inhibited by tensions between contextual (macro) and localised (micro) factors. In light of these challenges, literature suggests that cohesion is a key determinant of team performance; however, competing literature asserts that conflict is essential for exploiting diverse knowledge. This suggests a paradoxical need for both cohesion and conflict. However, extant ISD literature has yet to explore how the interplay of macro- and micro-level factors affect cohesion and conflict in distributed settings. To address this gap, we present and utilise a theoretical framework to analyse ethnographic data from a distributed ISD project called ‘Athena’. The findings point to a ‘double edged sword’ of cohesion and suggest that moderate levels of task-based conflict are essential for addressing diversity in distributed teams. Additionally, excessive levels of cohesion can contribute to social conflict between subgroups when task conflict is constrained.
Information systems development , Team cohesion , Team conflict , Subgroups
McCarthy, S., O'Raghallaigh, P., Fitzgerald, C. and Adam, F. (2018) 'Theorising Antecedents of Cohesion and Conflict in Distributed ISD Project Teams', Proceedings of the 39th International Conference on Information Systems, San Francisco 13-16 December.
© 2018 the authors.