Social Presence in Virtual World Collaboration: An Uncertainty Reduction Perspective Using a Mixed Methods Approach

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42.03.05
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Abstract
The life-like collaborative potential offered by virtual worlds (VWs) has sparked significant interest for companies to experiment with VWs in order to organize convenient, cost-effective virtual global workplaces. Despite the initial hype, recent years have witnessed a rather stagnant use of VWs for collaboration in organizations. Previous research recognizes that the inherent uncertainties within the VW environment are factors limiting their utilization by businesses. Hence, grounding this research in uncertainty reduction theory (URT), we aim to understand the modalities and mechanisms for mitigating the uncertainties and fostering user trust within VWs so that they can be effectively utilized as a workplace collaboration tool. With this end in view, we propose contextualizing and extending McKnight et al.’s (2002) institutional trust framework to the context of VWs by examining the significant role that social presence has in influencing the efficacy of the institution-based trust-building factors of situational normality and structural assurance in VWs. Using a sequential mixed methods approach (Venkatesh et al. 2013; Venkatesh, Brown, and Sullivan 2016), this research integrates results from a quantitative study with findings from a qualitative study to arrive at rich and robust inferences and meta-inferences, with the qualitative method first corroborating the inferences obtained from the quantitative research and then complementing them by identifying boundary conditions that may limit the use of VWs in organizations for workplace collaboration. The results together suggest not only the direct but also the interactional (complementary and substitutive) influences of social presence on the relationships of the two institutional trust-building factors to user trust in VWs. 4/4/18
Additional Details
Author Shirish C. Srivastava and Shalini Chandra
Year 2018
Volume 42
Issue 3
Keywords Virtual worlds, uncertainty reduction theory, institutional trust, sequential mixed methods
Page Numbers 779-803; DOI: 10.25300/MISQ/2018/11914
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