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Temporal Patterns of Mental Model Convergence: Implications for Distributed Teams Interacting in Electronic Collaboration Spaces

Mccomb, Sara ; Kennedy, Deanna ; Perryman, Rebecca ; Warner, Norman ; Letsky, Michael ;Gorman, Jamie C (Editor) ; Cooke, Nancy J (Editor) ; Salas, Eduardo (Editor)

Human Factors: The Journal of Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, April 2010, Vol.52(2), pp.264-281 [Peer Reviewed Journal]

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  • Title:
    Temporal Patterns of Mental Model Convergence: Implications for Distributed Teams Interacting in Electronic Collaboration Spaces
  • Author/Creator: Mccomb, Sara ; Kennedy, Deanna ; Perryman, Rebecca ; Warner, Norman ; Letsky, Michael
  • Gorman, Jamie C (Editor) ; Cooke, Nancy J (Editor) ; Salas, Eduardo (Editor)
  • Language: English
  • Subjects: Distributed Teams ; Shared Mental Models ; Mental Model Convergence ; Event History Analysis ; Cognitive Processes ; Team Communication ; Face-to-Face Teams ; Temporal Patterns ; Sociotechnical Systems ; Electronic Collaboration Spaces ; Engineering ; Psychology
  • Is Part Of: Human Factors: The Journal of Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, April 2010, Vol.52(2), pp.264-281
  • Description: Objective: Our objective is to capture temporal patterns in mental model convergence processes and differences in these patterns between distributed teams using an electronic collaboration space and face-to-face teams with no interface. Background: Distributed teams, as sociotechnical systems, collaborate via technology to work on their task. The way in which they process information to inform their mental models may be examined via team communication and may unfold differently than it does in face-to-face teams. Method: We conducted our analysis on 32 three-member teams working on a planning task. Half of the teams worked as distributed teams in an electronic collaboration space, and the other half worked face-to-face without an interface. Results: Using event history analysis, we found temporal interdependencies among the initial convergence points of the multiple mental models we examined. Furthermore, the timing of mental model convergence and the onset of task work discussions were related to team performance. Differences existed in the temporal patterns of convergence and task work discussions across conditions. Conclusion: Distributed teams interacting via an electronic interface and face-to-face teams with no interface converged on multiple mental models, but their communication patterns differed. In particular, distributed teams with an electronic interface required less overall communication, converged on all mental models later in their life cycles, and exhibited more linear cognitive processes than did face-to-face teams interacting verbally. Application: Managers need unique strategies for facilitating communication and mental model convergence depending on teams’ degrees of collocation and access to an interface, which in turn will enhance team performance.
  • Identifier: ISSN: 0018-7208 ; E-ISSN: 1547-8181 ; DOI: 10.1177/0018720810370458