CEC Theses and Dissertations

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Date of Award

2012

Document Type

Dissertation - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Information Systems (DISS)

Department

Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences

Advisor

Steven Terrell

Committee Member

Robert DeMichiell

Committee Member

Martha M. Snyder

Abstract

Virtual worlds provide a way to simulate face-to-face meetings via three dimensional environments where users can meet and communicate through avatars, or their graphical and customized online alter egos. Unfortunately, minimal research exists into the application of virtual worlds on virtual teams for real project management success. This is a concern because virtual worlds can restore the visual cues that foster trust but their avatars' identities may diverge from their owners', thus potentially undermining that trust. Since virtual team members may never physically meet, it is unclear how this will affect virtual team member trust and project success when avatars are used for project communication. This qualitative study assessed whether the authentic projection of an owner's identity via their avatar is an antecedent of team trust. It presented a theoretical model that depicts the impact of virtual team trust on the ability of project managers to leverage the enhanced delivery opportunities virtual worlds provide and the impacts of team member comfort with the virtual world medium and their attitudes toward others' avatar designs on virtual team trust.

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