​New research from Drake University, ​co-authored by Professor Ina Purvanova, chair of the College of Business and Public Administration’s management and organizational leadership department, concludes that the performance of teams is not influenced by virtual environments. The article, entitled “The impact of virtuality on team effectiveness in organizational and non-organizational teams: A meta-analysis” appeared recently in the peer-reviewed journal Applied Psychology. The study’s findings run counter to popular assumptions that virtual working arrangements generate inferior performance ​in work teams.

“We could not find evidence to support the notion that virtuality has an impact​ on team performance—whether negative as commonly assumed, or positive as some have argued​. We hope this research serves to end the debate on whether ​virtuality is bad or good for teams,” said Purvanova. “Our results point to ​the need for organizations to be clear on what they are seeking to gain when they design the future of work. For example, while a virtual team might not increase productivity, it could allow an organization to tap into dispersed talent or serve global clients if those were important objectives.”

The study, conducted in collaboration between Purvanova and co-author Renata Kenda of the Tilburg University in the Netherlands, represents the most comprehensive meta-analysis of the relationship between virtuality and a broad array of outcomes (i.e., performance indicators including productivity, and social and individual outcomes) within organizational teams.

“Relevant research on timely issues is the hallmark of our scholarship at Drake University,” said Alejandro Hernandez, dean of the College of Business and Public Administration. “The investigation completed by Professor Purvanova and her collaborator is an example of how research can address key strategic questions that executives face as we enter a new era for business.”