Building an Inductive Theory of Collaboration in Virtual Teams: An Adapted Grounded Theory Approach

  • Sarker S
  • Lau F
  • Sahay S
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Abstract

We outline how the grounded theory methodology (Strauss and Corbin, 1994 version) was adapted to develop a theory of collaboration in virtual teams. Specifically, we studied virtual teams composed of students from a US and a Canadian university engaged in 14 week long systems development projects. We analyzed data using adapted versions of open coding, axial coding and selective coding. Based on our theoretical sensitivity, we also developed a meta-theoretical framework through a synthesis of the data we interacted with, the symbolic interactionist perspective, and structuration theory. We used this framework as an alternative to the "paradigm model" during selective coding of data. This paper makes two important contributions: methodologically, it can serve as a guide for researchers interested in using the grounded theory approach; and substantively, it presents a holistic and processual understanding of virtual teams that researchers in this area have called for.

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