Elements of Success in Virtual Collaborative Teams

 

Virtual Collaboration1

Today, a lot of organizations profit of the technological development to build a worldwide business taking advantage of the world market skills, save time and costs. These businesses that adopt such model use what is known as virtual collaboration between teams to link those geographically dispersed team members using technological channels such as chat, e-mail, instant messaging, video conferencing …etc. But, what factors and skills needed to reach success in this virtual environment?

new study carried by researcher from Fairmont State University, USA has investigated these necessary elements of success in virtual collaboration. The study which is published in a Journal of Internet Social Networking & Virtual Communities insisted on different components of success including for instance “relationship building, communication, collaboration, and technological skills”

Relationship Building

Building relationship is important in every work environment, physical or virtual. Building great relationship is as important in virtual environment as in face to face environment to reach business success. The above study stated that relationship building helps “create team cohesion, sustainable relationships, encourage trust, team familiarity, and create a shared context among diverse team members”.

Also, the importance of having good relationship with team members lays in helping “decrease the intensity of conflicts, encourage the sharing of information, build a sense of community, and promote clarity throughout the duration of the project” the study affirmed.

Trust

All experts agree that trust is an important factor for efficient work environment and the virtual work is no exception. Researcher stressed out that “trust is the foundation for strong team relationships that enable team members to gain mutual respect for one another, to appreciate diversity, share information, and to communicate in an open environment”.

In order to build trust, team of the virtual collaborative team can meet face to face if possible, if not then they can “post biographical information and pictures online for everyone to see, or team members can meet one another through video conferencing technologies” the researcher added.

Trust can also be reached when employees know each other more including for instance knowing each one’s geographical location, cultural background, skills, knowledge, and more. By connecting with each other in an environment of trust, they would reduce the cultural differences that can hinder team success.

Communication 

Another main factor of success in every work environment, physical or virtual is communication. Members of virtual teams need to own necessary communication skills to effectively transmit message to others. For that, team members need to make sure that “their communication is simple and easy to understand, that ambiguity is limited in all messages, and that knowledge is readily shared throughout the entire team” researcher explained.

Because virtual teams are more diverse, there’s a great need of making language simpler for an effective communication. The study stated that “team must establish a common language, which means that all team members, regardless of their diversity, must use the same definitions for the same words in order to prevent misinterpretations”.

Team members can also prevent misunderstanding by using “asynchronous communication like wikis, forums, and message boards, which generally result in messages that are better thought-out than those presented by synchronous communication” as stated in the study.

Because verbal language always transmit better communication than any other form, there still “some ambiguity will always be present in VCTs, because there is a lack of nonverbal communication”. To prevent that, researcher said that “teams can change their preferred method of collaborative technology”. For instance they can make use of “voice-over-IP or video conferencing so that everyone can speak to one another in a more natural manner, and so that the team members can see the facial expressions of one another.”

Knowledge sharing

As it is said knowledge is power. At work, it is important to share knowledge with other members of the team to ensure the team work. Sharing knowledge is the way to innovation, and sharing knowledge helps in brainstorming and coming up with new ideas. Knowledge sharing is what helps the organization improve. The study explained that “In order for knowledge sharing to occur in VCTs, an environment that is trusting, free of major conflicts, and has strong relationships must be created”.

Collaboration Skills

As collaboration is the main objective of the existence of these teams, collaborative skills are required to succeed in this mission. “These collaboration skills include the ability to work autonomously and delegate tasks, the ability to motivate other members of VCTs, the ability to adapt to changing contexts, and the ability to innovate” the study mentions.

Motivation

To succeed doing a job perfectly and effectively, the employee needs motivation and passion. Because of the obstacles faced in the virtual collaboration teams such as “technological glitches, language and cultural barriers, and the increased amount of work that is needed by each team member to participate in VCTs”, team members can lose their temper unless they have motivation to collaborate and complete projects.

Technological and Web Skills

When we talk virtual collaborative teams, means that collaboration is done on the web and through the technological means. So, it is natural that members that form these virtual teams need to have technological skills to succeed in the mission.

Researcher stated that “members of VCTs must be proficient in the use of web collaboration technologies, and virtual worlds and avatars”. When they have wide knowledge and skills in using technological tools and web, members of these virtual teams can avoid the technical glitches they can face.

Against Virtual Collaboration

In spite of all the advantages offered by virtual collaboration, there are still people that are against it. Those that are not supportive of virtual collaboration see that “collaborative technologies cannot replace face-to-face collaboration… because the success of VCTs depends on the ability of the team to cross physical and cultural differences” stated in the study.

Among the other reasons cited by those who are not supportive of virtual collaboration is because “there is more conflict in VCTs than in face-to-face teams, and it is hard to establish common ground and for the members of VCTs to bond with one another”. They also see that members of virtual collaboration teams can’t succeed because of “the superiority of face-to-face communication include, the inability of some individuals to become comfortable working with VCTs, the difficulty of knowledge sharing in VCTs, and a lack of non-verbal communication cues.”

The other failure reasons provided are technical problems and technological glitches. The study stated “there is also concern over the amount of time that it takes the members of VCTs to type messages on a keyboard when using chat room or instant messaging technologies, and the need for everyone to use the same technological platform.”

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Work and Family Roles Affect Job Satisfaction and Job Performance

burnout

The employee’s happiness and satisfaction is of great importance for performance. Managers and business researchers believe that job satisfaction is good for employee for health and wellbeing, and that would be reflected on productivity and effectiveness for the organization.

Several factors are behind job satisfaction including for instance pay, management, work environment, and a lot more. Among other factors that are verified for affecting job satisfaction and job performance is conflict between work and family roles. A recently published study has investigated that and tried to find answers on the impacts of job satisfaction and performance.

The study is published in a Journal of Southeast Asian Research is carried by researcher from University Utara, Malaysia, and researcher from Autonomous University of Madrid, Spain. To carry out their study, researchers took a sample of 334 dual-roles women in Indonesian banks and asked them to fill questionnaires.

The employee satisfaction as noticed by researchers is influenced by work-family conflict. As they stated “employees with work-family conflict will have a lower level of job satisfaction…employees’ role conflict at work is destructive and creates job dissatisfaction for them.”

Different studies have found that work-family conflict has negative effects on job satisfaction. And in line with these studies, researchers of the current study stressed out that “employees who have problems with their family become more emotional and do not have any mind-concentration and even stress; then it will reduce their job satisfaction.” With exception for a workaholic woman who would instead “try to focus and finish the duties; afterwards it directly leads to increased job satisfaction.”

Among the other valuable notices, researchers stated that “work-family conflict, which is triggered by work pressure, does not give any influence on whether an employee would like to move and find another job or not.” In contrary “employees perceive work pressure as a challenge for them, and it should be handled wisely. In addition, they consider work competition and pressure as a chance to get a new better job” researchers stated.

When the employee is not satisfied, then the intention to quit the job increases. Researchers said that “family-work conflict has a positive and significant effect on the turnover intention… an employee, who gets family pressure, generally decides to move to other jobs because of some considerations, such as family-oriented workers who attempt to balance their dual-roles. If they could not manage and balance their family responsibilities, then it would be better for them to move and find new jobs.”

To fight job dissatisfaction and improve employee’s happiness at work, and ultimately job performance, researchers provided a number of suggestions:

  • Special attention for relaxing the pressure is a must.
  • Organizations could provide some supports for their employees, such as setting child-care/playgroup facilities for women with early-age children, flexible work schedule, and supportive working environment.
  • The government could offer important support to working women by regulating special leave for married-working men to part in family activities, such as paternity and child sick leave.
  • A fit arrangement considering marital and family status would generate reduced pressure and conflict between work and family for dual-roles women.
  • Human-resource practices should be more selective and proactive in designing job assignment and position between single and married women.

Factors Behind E-learning and Online Training Effectiveness

E-Learning Effectiveness

 

Enterprises believe that training for employees is so vital and helps the company to succeed. But, because training in the classic form is costly, organizations turn to online training for the various benefits it offers including money save, time and place flexibility. Yet, there are always wonders of the effectiveness of online training programs in comparison to face to face and classroom based learning.

Effectiveness of e-learning has been subject to academic research for years, and a lot of studies have tackled this subject. In this context, a recently published study has gone this direction and investigated factors that influence effectiveness of online training.

This study is conducted by a group of researchers from University of Sousse, and University of Manouba, Tunisia and published in this international journal IBIMA Business Review. This empirical study has been conducted on a sample of 410 Tunisian employees of 9 enterprises.

To evaluate how effective is an online training program, researchers made their investigation based on what they referred to as five theories: “motivation theory, social cognitive theory, media richness theory, technology acceptance theory and structure theory.”

To measure effectiveness of e-learning, researchers studied several “factors that explain learning performance and transfer performance” that include “motivation, self efficacy, contents of training, face to face meeting, e-mail exchange, easy of use, senior’s support, and continuous learning culture”.

Motivation

Researchers noticed that even though “motivation influences learning performance”, but it is “not a relatively important variable”. They explained that employees can show motivation at the beginning to enroll in a training program just out of “curiosity or to point out themselves (image of oneself)”. But, later on “learning motivation can decrease little by little with the advance of training sessions.”

So, researchers explained that motivation has no importance in transfer performance, meaning that “the use of newly knowledge at work is not explained by the employees’ motivation but rather by the need to apply new knowledge, skills and behaviors for the performance of the required tasks.”

Self efficacy

Instead, researchers that self efficacy is important for transfer of performance. They stated that “trainees who believe more in their abilities and aptitudes to use the computer tools to achieve the desired purpose will not be inevitably most likely to perform training tasks to become more operational for the use of newly knowledge and skills in the daily routines of job.”

Content of training

Among the other main factors that affect learning performance, researchers found “that training content constitute an important variable”. They also noticed that “task – related content affects negatively and weakly transfer performance.”

Social interactivity

Social interactivity is another main factor stressed on by the study.  “The social interactivity between trainees and trainers exert a positive effect on the learning performance” researchers stated.

Website’s ease of use

Researchers stressed on the importance of website’s ease of use. They said that “the site’s ease of use affects positively learning performance. Consequently the higher online site is clear, comprehensible and convivial, fewer efforts are required for trainees and better it will tend to achieve learning performance.”

Supervisor’s importance

The importance of supervisors in learning performance is also noticed by researchers. Supervisors have an indirect effect on this performance as stated in the study “the supervisors’ support on transfer performance is an indirect effect carried out through the learning performance since the employees are obliged to use new knowledge, skills and behaviors to suitably carry out the missions requested by their supervisors.”

Continuous learning

Continuous learning culture is another factor investigated in the study, and though it “does not affect transfer performance”, but it “rather affects learning performance.”

Researchers come to a conclusion that “the effect of learning performance on the transfer performance is significant.” And they finished that the all the results they found in the study “seem to be crucial for e-learning effectiveness since the relationship between the two dependent variables were checked.”

Study: What Affects Quality of Life in Patients with Epilepsy?

Epilepsy

 

Epilepsy is defined as various disorders characterized by recurrent seizures. These seizures can differ from short to long periods of strong shakings. Scientists haven’t identified the real cause of epilepsy, but it is mostly caused as a result of brain injury, stroke, brain tumor, and drug and alcohol abuse. To control epileptic seizures, doctors prescribe epilepsy drugs.

The quality of life is one of the evaluations performed in different medical areas including epilepsy. To treat an epileptic patient, it is so important to assess how the disease impacts the patient’s life.

Scientists have always investigated factors affecting epilepsy patient’s quality of life. In this context a recently published study has gone in this direction to understand these factors related to quality of life in a group of adult patients. Researchers studied sample of 560 patients of which 337 males and 223 females.

The study which is published in Research in Neurology: An International Journal showed that “factors associated with quality of life in adult epilepsy patients were psychiatric problems and AEDs.” Researchers stated previous studies stressing that “the most important determinants for patients with epilepsy were social and psychological aspects, effects of antiepileptic drugs and seizure frequency, which were determinants of poor QOL”.

Epilepsy patients’ psychology is directly affected by the disease. Researchers said that depression, anxiety and the use of multiple antiepileptic drugs are strong predictors of poor quality of life in epileptic patients.  As stated in the study, “effects of antiepileptic drugs and seizure frequency… (are) determinants of poor QOL”. Researchers also noticed that depression continue to “exist even after controlling seizure frequency, seizure severity, and other psychosocial variables.”

Researchers stated previous studies showing that “people with epilepsy have been reported to be more prone to depression than those without epilepsy”.

Researchers investigated if age, sex, education has effects on the patients’ quality of life. But they found that “age, sex and education did not correlate significantly with the quality of life”. Compared to other studies that found that employment and marriage are serious problems epilepsy patients face, researchers of the current study stated that “unlike these studies according to our study most of the patients were either studying or employed in some profession though most of females happen to be housewives.”

Researchers come to a conclusion that “psychiatric problems may be a potential challenge for people with epilepsy to cause poor QOL.” And they stressed out that “improving the patient’s quality of life (QOL) is one of the most important goals of epilepsy management and it may be necessary to individualize interventions such as counseling and psychotherapy techniques to improve the QOL in epilepsy patients.”

Researchers added that “the factor associated with QOL emphasizes the importance of effective treatment and alleviating anxiety and depression levels, which may improve the quality of life.”

Impact of Word Of Mouth on Purchase Decision

Word of Mouth

As a customer, when you buy something, you talk about it positively or negatively depending on your experience with that product or service. These opinions expressed by customers are what referred to in marketing as word of mouth (WOM).

Word of mouth has great impact on businesses and it shapes customers’ purchase decisions. Word of mouth is effective than any other advertisement, and that influence doubles when the customer wants to buy the product or service for the first time, or when the price is high.

Today, word of mouth appears also in the form of opinion leaders that have more impact on a lot of people than the person to person impact in the old form of word of mouth. Opinions leaders are “Influential members of a community, group, or society to whom others turn for advice, opinions, and views.”

Over time, researchers and marketing specialists tried to understand the customer’s behavior and how he’s affected by others’ opinion. Understanding what convinces the customer to make a purchase decision will help create marketing strategies depending on that.

In this context, a group of researchers from Boğaziçi University, Istanbul, Turkey carried a study to evaluate “the efficiency and profitability of different marketing strategies consisting of different price, promotion, quality levels and different number of targeted opinion leaders where consumers are subject to WOM effects.”

Researchers stated in this study published in a Journal of Marketing Research and Case Studies that they “aimed to find how product sales patterns evolve over time and profitability of the company changes when WOM is in and not in effect.”

When the customer likes a product or service, she or he would recommend it for others and the same when not satisfied or had bad experience. The customer would warn others to avoid making the purchase. But there must be some factors that affect the customer satisfaction and his decision to make a purchase.

The primary factor that entices a customer to make a purchase is product quality. Researchers found that “product quality is the most important factor that influences consumers’ buying decisions.” After that, business’ promotion efforts come in the second position. “Promotion strategy of the company is the second important factor that triggers consumers buying motivation” as stated in the study.

Researchers investigated effects of opinion leaders that have become among the marketing strategies used by businesses. The influence of opinion leaders is significant and it’s something worth investing in, but researchers found that it has no effects if the quality of product is not good. Researchers found that “decreasing price and increasing number of opinion leaders to collaborate with do not lead to significant increase in number of buyers, when the product quality is under the consumers’ expectations.”

The influence of word of mouth helps businesses when they offer quality products and stands against them if the quality of their products does not meet the customers’ expectations. Researchers said that “when the product quality characteristics are low, consumers share this information and less people purchase the product.” So they recommend that “the company should produce higher quality products to increase its profit and avoid negative influence of WOM effect.”

Stem Cells Provide Answers to Miscarriage Mechanism

Miscarriage

Miscarriage or what is referred by scientists as spontaneous abortion is the end of pregnancy due to natural death of an embryo or fetus before being able to survive. Miscarriage is the pregnancy loss that happens before 20 weeks of gestation, after that time it is called stillbirth.

The cause of miscarriage isn’t usually identified, but several reasons are believed to stand behind it. It is mainly caused by chromosomal abnormalities in the fertilized egg with no role to the mother. Chromosomes are essential to the development of the baby that won’t grow properly if there aren’t enough chromosomes or too many of them.

Miscarriage can also be consequence of some factors related to the mother such as smoking, drugs and alcohol excessive consumption, obesity, problems in immunity systems and reproductive organs, among others.

A group of researchers from Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre, Mumbai, India, has published a new research in which they tried to understand miscarriage and its mechanism and how it happens. Researchers believed that studying Stem Cells is likely to provide answers of how miscarriage happens and that will help in evaluating it.

To carry their study which is published in a journal of Advances in Stem Cells, researchers “proposed to isolate multipotent stem cells from human aborted placental tissue and characterized them by using molecular and morphological analysis”.  The placenta is “an organ that connects the developing fetus to the uterine wall to allow nutrient uptake, waste elimination, and gas exchange via the mother’s blood supply, fight against internal infection and produce hormones to support pregnancy.”

The reason why researchers  study  placenta is because it “contains several times more stem cells than umbilical cord blood therefore, the  use of placental stem cells can increase the chance for making stem cell from placenta for stem cell therapies in near future” study stated.

Researchers noticed that “there is an abnormal expression of CD 73, CD 100, CD 45, Ki67 and Vimentin in aborted fetal tissue thus indicates some role of these genes in the maintenance of pregnancies.” After analyzing results, researchers noticed that “there is a complete down regulation of CD 73 gene indicating that lack of CD73 expression may be responsible for the spontaneous fetal abortion.”

Scietists stressed that “factors such as insulin, growth factors etc. present in growth media can be useful in elevating the level of CD73 for maintenance of aborted fetus in women with high risk pregnancy which need further investigation.”

As part of the study, researchers investigated different roles in relation to Placental Stem Cells including role of pluripotency and differentiation Markers, role of additional Stem Cell markers, role of Cytokine and Chemokine markers, expression of CD45 and CD100, as well as expression of Cardiomyocytes and Osteocytes Genes.

Researchers found that “there is no effect shown on pluripotent properties of fetal stem cells in aborted placenta.” Also, they noticed that “vimentin is totally down regulated in human aborted placental tissue. Thus this can be used as a marker to evaluate the miscarriage in women who have a history of spontaneous abortion.”

For the roles of Cytokine and Chemokine, scientists ntocied that ‘that there is no change in the overall cytokine and chemokine expression in human aborted fetal placenta as well as hPMSCs line indicating that these factors may not be involved in the process of spontaneous abortion.”

For the role of proteins CD100 and CD45 that are so vital for immune system during pregnancy, researchers showed that “that there is an up regulation of CD45 gene and down regulation of CD100 in both tissue and hPMSCs cell line indicating that these factors may be responsible for spontaneous abortion of fetus in these women.”

Evaluating the expression of the Cardiomyocytes and Osteocytes Genes the study observed “that the abnormal expression of CD 73, CD 100, CD 45, Ki 67and vimentin are involved in fetal abortion in high risk pregnancy, and hPMSCs cell line can be used as an in vitro model system to study the mechanism of fetal abortion as well as for future regenerative therapies.”

Researchers concluded that “hPMSCs” cells can be used as an in vitro model system for the evaluation of the mechanism of spontaneous abortion… due to their multipotent characteristic they can be used for future regenerative therapies for various disorders.”