Managing interruptions in virtual collaboration : an empirical study in the textile business

Pao Yue-kong Library Electronic Theses Database

Managing interruptions in virtual collaboration : an empirical study in the textile business

 

Author: Fang, Siyan
Title: Managing interruptions in virtual collaboration : an empirical study in the textile business
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2013
Subject: Virtual work teams -- Management.
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Real-time data processing.
Textile industry -- Management.
Clothing trade -- Management.
Department: Institute of Textiles and Clothing
Pages: xvi, 300 p. : ill. ; 30 cm.
InnoPac Record: http://library.polyu.edu.hk/record=b2639095
URI: http://theses.lib.polyu.edu.hk/handle/200/7075
Abstract: This thesis explores and examines the interruption management issue in virtual collaboration in the textile and apparel business. Such virtual collaboration amongst or within organizations allows members to interact and collaborate regardless of geographic dispersion, as well as increase responsiveness and flexibility. Since interaction can be considerably intense among the collaborating partners such as designers, manufacturers, warehouses and retailers, one of the serious challenges is how to manage the interruptions to meet the increasing requirements of smooth interaction during virtual collaboration. Interruptions amongst team members are inevitable during the course of virtual collaboration. Appropriate interruptions could bring important and timely information that is vital to adapt to the market while undesirable interruptions would cause disruptiveness to team members, decrease work efficiency or impede performance. Effective interruption management is expected to eliminate the negative effects of undesirable interruptions while maintaining the advantages of appropriate interruptions. Although the interruption's effect on individuals and virtual team performance has been studied a lot, empirical research focusing on the management of the interruption in virtual collaboration is still limited. This thesis aims to explore and empirically examine how to manage interruptions effectively through organizational and technological enhancement.
In view of the significance of managing interruption among virtual teams, the author reviews literature in organization science, management information science and other related research. The author concludes that intra-team awareness, virtual technology, task interdependence of the virtual team members, and the team's motivating & governance system are determining factors of effective interruption management and virtual collaboration. Based on the literature review, a conceptual model of interruption management in virtual collaboration is built. The author adopts the combination of qualitative and quantitative methods to examine proposed relationships in the model. The exploratory qualitative interviewing approach provides us a preliminary test of the proposed causal relationships, from the points of textile industrial practitioners. The preliminary findings also enrich the knowledge about how individuals from today's textile companies manage interruptions and utilize advanced information technologies in their virtual teamwork. These serve as the contextual basis for the survey instrument development. The interview results support the proposed relationships and the underlying mechanisms: the enhancement of intra-team awareness and virtual technology helps to decrease undesirable interruptions and coordinate unexpected interruptions, high task interdependence among members and team-based motivating & governance system stimulate joint efforts for a shared goal, and encourage the dispersed individuals to be more cooperative in handling interruptions. In the second stage of industry survey, the author collects 261 valid responses. The respondents are practitioners of textile and apparel companies who are currently involved in and have several years of experience in virtual collaboration. Structural equation modeling (SEM) analysis is employed to test the proposed hypotheses. The results suggest that the proposed antecedent factors (virtual technology, intra-team awareness, task interdependence, and motivating & governance system) are significantly associated with interruption management, and the interruption management mediates the relationships between the antecedents and the virtual collaboration effectiveness. In addition, task interdependence has direct effect on the virtual collaboration effectiveness. Theoretically, this research is the first to construct an integrated framework to explore the antecedent factors of interruption management, and employ empirical study to examine the hypothetical relationships in the model. Besides, the author also puts efforts in developing the construct of interruption management. Practically, it puts forth systematic guidelines for improving the coordination of interruptions by means of technological aspect and organizational settings for management levels of textile companies; the author also offers individuals suggestions on handling interruptions appropriately and utilizing the virtual technologies to enhance effectiveness in their collaboration with co-workers, clients, suppliers, and business partners.

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