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Cyber-bullying in GVTs

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Cyberbullying In Global Virtual Teams

Dissertation in development by Abdullah Oguz, UNCG



Workplace mistreatment towards employees has been a material issue, investigated by various disciplines increasingly since the 1990s. With the advent of the Internet, and utilization of a wide variety of online media, workplace bullying, as one of the severe types of mistreatment, has expanded to cyberspace beyond the physical boundaries of an office or factory by acquiring distinct characteristics such as anonymity of perpetrators and spatial and temporal permanence of materials. This phenomenon has started to receive attention in the Information Systems discipline as well. Cyberbullying includes any behaviors intended to inflict harm or discomfort on an individual or a group of individuals, who cannot easily defend themselves. It is done by communicating repeatedly and intentionally hostile, aggressive, offensive or rude messages conveying unpleasant and offensive information (picture, videos, or text) through digital media such as text and instant messages, emails, blogs, and social media. Furthermore, virtual teams have become increasingly common in organizations since they provide convenience to individuals, teams and organizations to perform their tasks and responsibilities from different locations by relying totally on virtual collaboration tools. However, extant literature has not examined cyberbullying that may occur in national or global virtual teams.

This research fills the gap in the literature on cyberbullying in global virtual teams (GVTs). GVTs are globally dispersed, and culturally and functionally diverse teams that rely on advanced technology for communication, collaboration and coordination. This research creates an opportunity to understand the extent of cyberbullying in GVTs, where their antecedents and consequences are elaborated, and explicates the role of ICT on the occurrence and prevention of cyberbullying. The routine activities theory is utilized to explain how opportunities for cyberbullying victimization are produced, and everyday routines and lifestyle behaviors expose victims to risk. It is also hypothesized that the intensity and extent of cyberbullying and victimization vary at each developmental stage of a GVT. Furthermore, team diversity moderates the relationship between opportunities to cyberbully and cyberbullying victimization. Our research would utilize content analysis of the X-Culture competition (a two-month competition in which thousands of students and professionals from over 40 countries take part to work on business projects in GVTs) and semi-structured interviews conducted with GVT members in order to generate a measure of GVT cyberbullying. This measure will be applied to new student GVTs in the X-Culture competition at four time points to observe the extent and impact of cyberbullying in GVTs. Ultimately, our research would help to better understand how cyberbullying in GVTs affects the victim’s social and economic status, and team’s productivity and effectiveness.