Title: An exploratory study of social loafing in asynchronous virtual collaboration

Authors: Fang Chen; Limin Zhang; Joseph Latimer

Addresses: Department of Accounting and Finance, I.H. Asper School of Business, University of Manitoba, 181 Freedman Crescent, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3T 6E2, Canada ' Department of Accounting, Finance and Information Systems, North Dakota State University, Barry Hall, 811 2nd Ave. N., Fargo, ND 58108-6050, USA ' Department of Computer Science, North Dakota State University, IACC 258, Dept. 2740, P.O. Box 6050, Fargo, ND 58108-6050, USA

Abstract: This paper reports an exploratory study that investigates social loafing in asynchronous virtual collaboration. Specifically, we conducted an experiment to examine the following three research questions: 1) Does social loafing exist in virtual collaboration conducted in asynchronous mode?; 2) Does providing feedback about their co-workers' performance increase an individual's contribution to a group task?; 3) Does their co-workers' performance level influence an individual's contribution to a group task? Although no significant differences were found related to individual's contribution and perceived social loafing between the control and treatment groups, this study revealed a very intriguing phenomenon: individuals who were informed that their co-workers contributed a little to the group task did not perceive that their co-workers were engaged in social loafing. Future research is needed to investigate whether individuals involved in asynchronous virtual collaboration perceive their co-workers' social loafing differently from those involved in traditional face-to-face or synchronous virtual collaboration.

Keywords: virtual teams; asynchronous virtual collaboration; social loafing; social comparison; social compensation; co-worker performance; performance feedback; individual contributions.

DOI: 10.1504/IJIDS.2014.061768

International Journal of Information and Decision Sciences, 2014 Vol.6 No.2, pp.153 - 165

Published online: 05 Jul 2014 *

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