This research will draw from understanding of moment-by-moment team dynamics to develop new interventions to help international teams overcome collaboration challenges. Communication tools and social media have the potential to allow people to interact fluidly across national, cultural and linguistic boundaries in ways that would have been difficult if not impossible in the past. In computer-mediated organizations, teams of people from across the globe now work together on common problems, each bringing his or her own perspective and expertise. Despite the promise of new media for interaction across national and cultural boundaries, however, much of this potential fails to be realized. Multicultural teams are challenged by mismatches in social conventions, work styles, power relationships and conversational norms, which can lead to misunderstandings that negatively affect relationships among team members and the quality of group work. This project will lead to new tools and knowledge for communication across geographic and cultural boundaries that will be made widely available to the research community and general public.
Just as successful teams work together to ground the informational content of their messages, they need to likewise work together to build a shared understanding about the affective meaning of each other's behavior. Particularly a team's ability to regulate its interaction dynamics has been found to be a significant predictor of its performance. This project will contribute to the fields of computer-mediated communication and computer-supported cooperative work by developing new theories and understandings of how people use technology to communicate and collaborate across cultural boundaries. It will contribute to human-computer interaction, information science, and related fields through the development of new techniques and tools for improving a team's ability to regulate its interaction, thereby leading to better relationships among teammates and better outcomes. It will also contribute novel tools to evaluate coordination of affect in team interaction in real time and to provide interventions to improve team functioning. Finally, the work will explore new technical issues around real-time automated assessment of team dynamics.