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Interaction rules and their role in collaboration software


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Kildare, RA 2010 , 'Interaction rules and their role in collaboration software', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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The need for on-line teamwork has increased - particularly in transnational
collaborations and in regional and rural areas, where distance and time prohibit
easy face-to-face communication. On-line collaboration, however, exacerbates the
forces that cause difficulties in face-to-face teams. This research identified a
facility for creating and monitoring rules of interaction as a useful component for
supporting virtual collaboration. Investigations in the disciplines of team
psychology, sociology, education, computer supported collaborative work and
computer supported collaborative learning, contributed to the design of the
facility. Its value was examined in real-life venues and by teamwork experts.
Communities build structures devoted to norms of interaction, making these
norms overt and regulating interaction. The creation of this social capital is deeply
linked to notions of trust, which has been identified as a major contributor to
successful virtual teams.
There has been little attention paid to providing software support for the
sociological aspects of collaboration. Because (virtual) teams are complex, the
patterns of interaction that suit a particular team may or may not be predictable,
making the creation of software difficult. The sociology underlying community
development and the social psychology of team interaction suggest the need for
an interaction rule facility and the principles upon which the design should be
based. Interaction rule software would further optimise the performance of virtual
teams by nurturing trust and may be of assistance in training potential virtual team
members in the behavioural issues of on-line collaboration.
Can we design software to further develop levels of trust in on-line teams by
emulating societal structures of behaviour regulation? A prototype was developed
and deployed in educational scenarios to explore this question. The
implementation of Phreda, an editable interaction rule facility, addressed a major
difficulty in current research; the inability to determine which team member
behaviours are important and what they signify.
The rule module positively influenced behaviour. Although team members could
construct and manipulate rules, they did not do so voluntarily. Indications were
that the participating teams were not sufficiently remote, independent and virtual
to make full use of the module.
Experts concluded that being involved in Phreda processes would increase
member commitment and hence trust. Its effective use should be early in a team’s
life for team-critical behaviours and involve all members. Recommended rules
can be helpful. Team knowledge gained during the process of rule construction,
was seen to be more important than the corresponding artefacts. By using the rule
module, members would learn what was behaviour was important, (and hence the
meanings of the rule artefacts) and gain skills in the process of establishing team

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Kildare, RA
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