Creativity in Global Virtual Teams

Creativity in Global Virtual Teams: The impact of different online communication tools on creativity


Relevance and rationale

As firms become more complex and expand geographically, the emphasis on innovation and use of virtual teams are undeniable trends. Diverse people from different disciplines with the right competencies are spread out over a larger geographical distance and the need to connect them is important for large multinationals. Therefore the use of online communication tools is important in order to communicate, cooperate and innovate. Earlier research into creativity and virtual teams have looked into the relationship between creativity, degree of virtuality and face – to -face communication. However, little research has been done on the link of creativity in global virtual teams which does not have the opportunity to meet face – to – face with varying intervals. This study will build upon earlier research done on creativity in teams, but restricts the focus to global virtual teams.

In more traditional teams the informal and formal face – to – face interactions provides a rich mode of communication between team members and thus enables teams to build trust which is important in order to share ideas and thus an enabling factor for creativity. Global Virtual Teams does not always have this option of face – to – face interaction. Therefore, we pose the question of whether media rich online communication tools can act as a substitute to offline face – to – face interaction and enable swift trust in the team which is conducive to the sharing of ideas and the creative output of the team.

The goal of the study is to research whether  there is a relationship between the mode and frequency of online  communication tools and the creative output of GVT’s. The study will research this by looking at which communication tools are used, the frequency and duration of use and examine if a correlation between certain communication tools and the creative outcome can be detected in GVT’s. Hereby we want to see if there are some communication tools which significantly increases creativity

Research question:

How does the frequency and choice of online communication mediums impact creativity in Global Virtual Teams?



Communication mediums & richness:

  • Poor non-instant: Text only, delayed reply – email, Facebook group
  • Poor instant: Text only, instant reply – Facebook chat,WhatsApp, Skype messaging etc.
  • Medium instant: Voice only communication – Viber, Skype without video, phone
  • Rich instant: voice and video communication, skype, facetime, etc


Main hypotheses:

H1 – Teams that utilise video chat over the duration of the project generate more creative solutions.

H2 –  The use of media rich communication tools in the beginning of the project increases the creative outcome of the project.


Explanatory variables:

  • Communication_tools_actual
  • Communication_frequency_expected
  • Communication_frequency_actual
  • Communication_frequency_actual – team_comm_freq_at4-9


Dependant variables:

  • Satisfaction_report measures on creativity
  • Combination of peer_evaluation_self – self_eval_ideas and peer_evaluation_other – peer_eval_ideas
  • Swift trust


Control variables – including but not limited to :

  • Liking the people in the team: variable: satisfaction_project enjoyment_at2-9
  • English_skills
  • Conflict_frequency
  • Prior online collaboration & international experience



OLS –  linear and non-linear regression analysis using Stata


As this is currently a master’s thesis, individuals or groups who wishes to assist or collaborate on possibly publishing the results in a journal are welcome to contact us. Although work on turning the paper into a publication will not take place until the middle of June 2018.



Anders B. fløystad

Aleksandra Maria Kjemhus





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