The team’s life span
Most research on virtual teams, and especially those comparing virtual teams with face-to- face teams, has used ad hoc teams. Research on group cohesion (Chidambaram, 1996; Dennis & Garfield, 2003) and group identity (Bouas & Arrow, 1996) has shown that groups using computer-mediated communication are slow to establish cohesion and group identity compared to face-to-face groups. Over time, however, computer-mediated communication groups catch up with face-to-face groups in establishing relational links between members (Walther & Burgoon, 1992).
A general concern many researchers express is the lack of studies using longitudinal designs and examining stages of team development. The few studies to date report that development in virtual teams tends to be non-linear, with bursts of regular and intense face-to-face interactions followed by periods of less intense interaction (Maznevski & Chudoba, 2000; Ratcheva & Vyakarnam, 2001). Membership in virtual teams also tends to be more dynamic than face-to-face teams (Gibson & Gibbs, 2006). These findings suggest that member adaptability or flexibility may be more relevant in virtual teams than in face-to-face teams due to the differences in the life span and membership boundaries of the virtual team.