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Mood synchronicity, collaboration media, and task outcomes

Carlsberg Foundation Young Researcher Fellowships

What

This project introduces a new concept, referred to here as 'mood synchronicity'. While media synchronicity focuses on how media transmit cognitive states from one individual to another, mood synchronicity focuses on how media transmit affective states. Building on this new concept, this project aims to explore how shared mood influences different types of collaborative tasks. More specifically, the project explores how the characteristics of different communication media moderate the relationship between shared mood and coordinated behaviors.

Why

"Online collaboration has become widespread in 2020. It is not clear how the different technologies used are contributing to emotional isolation. Understanding this may be important for managing productivity, conflict, and collective wellbeing. This project seeks to answer three key research questions: - What are the essential components of mood synchronicity? - How do specific media characteristics impact on mood synchronicity? - How does technology-enabled mood synchronicity impact different patterns of coordinated behavior?"

How

Consistent with seminal literature of media richness and media synchronicity, the project will address the three research questions in three different contexts. First, we will explore contexts where teams are primarily co-located, meaning they can communicate using the media of their choice, e.g. local firms in Copenhagen. Second, we will explore contexts where individuals are partly co-located, meaning some individuals can communicate using the media of their choice and others are limited to remote media, e.g. Copenhagen-based teams that include people from multiple countries. Third, we will explore contexts where few if any individuals are co-located, meaning they can only use remote media, e.g. open source software communities.

SSR

Collectively, these studies will provide the practical and theoretical basis to understand how different communication media moderate the impact of shared mood on coordinated work behaviors. This will be important as organizations adapt to new norms of work, post Covid-19. The answer may not be as straightforward as finding the media that best enable mood contagion. Indeed, extrapolating from findings on media synchronicity and creative conflict in teams, it may also emerge that some tasks benefit from asymmetrical moods. A clearer understanding of the relationship between tasks, media, and mood will therefore add valuable insight to future management practices and system design.