Open Access

Communication and leadership differences in virtual design teams: Why some teams do better than others

  • Jerry Fjermestad1 and
  • Rosalie J. Ocker2
Journal of the Brazilian Computer Society13:BF03192544


Organizations in today’s global economy face continual pressures to remain responsive to changes in the competitive marketplace. One way that firms have adapted to these pressures is to use web-based communication technologies to support virtual project teams. To better understand the effectiveness of these dispersed teams, we have analyzed the transcripts of eight virtual design teams composed of graduate students in information systems. Using a coding scheme based on design rationale concepts, we compare and contrast the communication activities of high and low performing virtual teams working on the early stages of software design.

Our results suggest that the high performing virtual teams significantly out-communicated the low performing virtual teams. High performing teams communicated more regarding design alternatives. They also spent considerably more effort summarizing their work and discussing the write-up of the final design deliverable. The leaders of high performance teams had more communication content than leaders of low performing teams.

Key Words

Virtual design teams communication team performance virtual team leadership